Green Computing through Virtual Learning Environments

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<ul><li><p> Note: This is the last authors copy prior to publishing. The final, definitive version of this book chapter has been published in F. Nafukho &amp; B. Irby </p><p>(Eds.), Innovative Technology Integration in Higher Education. Hershey, </p><p>PA: IGI Global. 2015 </p><p> CHAPTER 1 </p><p>Green Computing through Virtual Learning Environments </p><p>Rochell R. McWhorter </p><p>The University of Texas at Tyler, USA </p><p>Julie A. Delello </p><p>The University of Texas at Tyler, USA </p><p>ABSTRACT As technology has quickly evolved into more sophisticated forms, it is opening the options for </p><p>educators and business professionals to expand learning opportunities into virtual learning </p><p>spaces. This book chapter discusses a number of technology trends and practices that can </p><p>promote green computing, that is, as a way for organizations and individuals to be efficient in </p><p>time, currency and resources. Three technology trends that are disrupting the status quo are cloud </p><p>computing, 3D printing, and the analytics associated with Big Data. In addition, trends that </p><p>appear to be taking hold include digital badges, the internet of things, and how we are handling </p><p>recycling and e-waste of our devices. A discussion around issues of energy required for data </p><p>servers to power the technology is also presented. </p><p>Key words: big data, cloud computing, digital badges, e-waste, green technology, recycling, </p><p>virtual learning, internet of things, internet of everything, metadata, green computing, 3D </p><p>printing, information age </p><p>INTRODUCTION </p><p>Virtual learning is evident in many initiatives in both higher education and also in the </p><p>modern workplace. For instance, virtual teams are often used as a teaching tool in online college </p><p>courses to enhance students engagement with course material, self-awareness, teamwork, self-discovery, or empathy (Grinnell, Sauers, Appunn &amp; Mack, 2012; Loh &amp; Smyth, 2010; Palloff &amp; </p><p>Pratt, 2013; Ubell, 2011). Likewise, organizations are also utilizing virtual teams for learning </p><p>and for the completion of work tasks (Nafukho, Graham, &amp; Muyia, 2010). Virtual teams have </p><p>become even more critical in organizations due to rising fuel costs and costly commercial office </p><p>spaces (Bullock &amp; Klein, 2011). Virtual learning has increased in direct proportion to the </p><p>growing sophistication of information and communication technology (ICT) and is permeating </p><p>and blurring our personal and professional lives (McWhorter, 2010; Thomas, 2014). </p><p>BACKGROUND </p></li><li><p>GREEN COMPUTING THROUGH VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS 2 </p><p>As virtual learning has come of age, green computing has been posited as a way for </p><p>organizations and individuals to be efficient in time, currency and resources. Childs (2008) </p><p>defined green computing as the study and practice of using computing resources efficiently (p. 1) that includes the lifecycle of technology: the design, manufacture, use, and disposal of </p><p>computer hardware and software (Lo &amp; Qian, 2010). In this chapter, the authors will focus on </p><p>how existing technologies can be utilized efficiently in higher education and within industry to </p><p>shrink travel time and cost, improve efficiency, and lessen environmental impact. </p><p>The following sections of this chapter will highlight various examples of green computing </p><p>initiatives in higher education and the workplace that are making a real difference in lowering </p><p>costs and increasing efficiency. Discussions include the use of cloud computing, mobile devices, </p><p>digital badge technologies, real-time group meetings (RTGMs), and virtual and blended </p><p>professional conferences. Each will be examined both for their potential for green computing as </p><p>defined previously. </p><p>Cloud Computing </p><p>Across both education and industry, one emergent application changing the computer </p><p>industry is the use of cloud technology. In a recent issue of Forbes, Satell (2014) remarked: </p><p>The cloud is now disrupting every industry it touches. The worlds most advanced technologies are not only available to large enterprises who can afford to maintain an </p><p>expensive IT staff, but can be accessed by anybody with an internet connection. Thats a real game changer (para. 19). </p><p>Cloud computing is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology as a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable </p><p>computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be </p><p>rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider </p><p>interaction (Brown, 2011, para. 3). Essentially, cloud computing is the storage and access of data (i.e. documents, presentations, photos) over the Internet (see Figure 1). </p><p>[Insert Figure 1 about Here] See p. 28 </p><p>Licensed under Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication via Wikimedia Commons at </p><p></p><p>ations.jpg </p><p>There are numerous examples of cloud applications available on the Web, each offering different </p><p>storage volumes at variable costs. See Table 1 for a comparison of five of the most popular and </p><p>inexpensive cloud applications. </p></li><li><p>GREEN COMPUTING THROUGH VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS 3 </p><p>Table 1. </p><p> Comparison of Various Cloud Computing Platforms </p><p>Name URL Benefits/Disadvantages </p><p>Amazon </p><p>Cloud Drive </p><p> 5GB of free Web storage space. Using a </p><p>Kindle fire, phone, or tablet, users may </p><p>upload photos, personal videos, and </p><p>documents. Also, the Amazon Cloud provides </p><p>the user with the ability to play a wide-range </p><p>of music. However, one benefit that is </p><p>missing is that Amazon built the cloud </p><p>primarily as a storage device and it lacks the </p><p>added benefit of sharing or collaborating on </p><p>documents. </p><p>Apple iCloud 5GB of storage; works with the iPhone, iPad, </p><p>iPod touch, Mac, or personal computer (PC). </p><p>A more sophisticated cloud than the Amazon </p><p>cloud, the iCloud can not only store </p><p>documents but also allow the user to access </p><p>the same file across multiple devices and </p><p>applications. For example, up to six family </p><p>members can share photos or purchases from </p><p>iTunes, iBooks, and applications from the </p><p>App Store. </p><p>Google Drive Allows the user up to 15GB of storage to </p><p>create new documents, spreadsheets, and </p><p>presentations. In addition, the documents can </p><p>be shared and collaborated in real time with </p><p>others. All changes are saved automatically in </p><p>Drive and documents are stored instantly as </p><p>PDFs. One unique feature of Drive is that </p><p>files can also be made available for viewing </p><p>offline </p><p>Microsoft </p><p>Dropbox </p><p> Has become a prevalent storage application </p><p>across the world. According to Microsoft, as </p><p>of November 2013, there were 300 million </p><p>individual users and 4 million businesses </p><p>using Dropbox. In addition, the service is </p><p>available in 19 languages across 200 countries </p><p>(Hong, 2014). Dropbox allows users to share </p><p>files with anyone through a URL link. </p><p>Dropbox gives users 2GB free (up to 16GB </p><p>with referrals). </p><p>Microsoft </p><p>OneDrive </p><p> Delivers users 7GB of storage on any device </p><p>(e.g. Windows, Mac, iOS, Windows phone, </p></li><li><p>GREEN COMPUTING THROUGH VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS 4 </p><p>Android, Xbox). OneDrive also allows for the </p><p>joint creation, collaboration, and editing </p><p>across documents and folders. For businesses, </p><p>Office Online or Office client apps enable </p><p>real-time collaboration and secure file </p><p>sharing. Up to 25 GB in storage is minimal at </p><p>$2.50 per user per month. </p><p>Cloud-Based Universities </p><p>Across universities, cloud computing is being introduced to faculty, students, and staff as </p><p>a means to supplement or even replace traditional resources. In 2012, over 6.7 million students </p><p>were enrolled in at least one online course (Allen &amp; Seaman, 2013). In fact, the Babson Survey </p><p>Group reported that online enrollments have increased more rapidly than overall higher </p><p>education enrollments (Allen &amp; Seaman, 2010). Part of the reason for this progression is the </p><p>growing diversity of the U.S. population and greater demand for courses that provide greater </p><p>flexibility, affordability, and the added convenience to students. Also, with fluctuations in the </p><p>economy and an uncertain job market, a considerable number of students are pursuing online </p><p>degrees for reasons of employment (Clinefelter &amp; Aslanian, 2014). </p><p>The low cost, flexibility in use, and global accessibility makes cloud technology a suitable </p><p>contender to level the playing field in education. For example, in December 2013, as part of a </p><p>social experiment, Sugata Mitra created the first School in the Cloud lab allowing children, no matter how rich or poor the opportunity to engage and connect with information and mentoring online (Mitra, 2014, para. 1). Also, the Cloud is being utilized as a means to provide online curriculum and educational resources across the world at no cost. For instance, through the </p><p>Google Cloud Platform, the Kahn Academy has the ability to host over 2000 online videos, </p><p>support 3.8 million unique visits each month, and answer 1.5 million practice questions each </p><p>school day (Google, 2011). </p><p>Across the world, students and faculty utilize the cloud to upload and share videos and images, </p><p>which would normally be too large to send through a learning management system (LMS) or </p><p>over email. </p><p>In addition, digital games are being harnessed for game-based learning into teaching and learning </p><p>over the Cloud. One example includes the World of Warcraft (WoW), a massively multiplayer </p><p>online role-playing game (MMORPG) that is being used in middle and high schools to promote </p><p>learning (Shane, 2012). One advocate for the use of WoW in school settings is Peggy Sheehy </p><p>who has been adapting the game for use with middle school humanities students (See: </p><p> ). According to Gerber (2012), the future of gaming may soon be </p><p>embedded into massively open online courses (MOOCs) where over 100,000 students are now </p><p>enrolled in an online community of learning. </p><p>In addition, cloud platforms are also enabling faculty members and students the ability to share </p><p>research with other researchers globally. According to Farnam Jahanian, Assistant Director of </p><p>the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Computer and Information Science and </p><p>Engineering, "Cloud computing represents a new generation of technology in this new era of </p></li><li><p>GREEN COMPUTING THROUGH VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS 5 </p><p>science, one of data-driven exploration It creates precedent-setting opportunities for discovery (NSF, 2011, para. 5). One such example is an innovative Global Factory program, which continues to bring together students from different universities and time zones to rethink </p><p>sustainable innovations such as automobile factories and digital farming. According to Pierre </p><p>Chevrier, Director of Ecole Nationale d'Ingnieurs de Metz, "Social, cloud-based collaboration </p><p>was a key reason the Global Factory program over-achieved its goalIn a dispersed environment, like ones real life engineers experience every day, social networking technologies </p><p>are mandatory for successful innovation (Green Technology World, 2014, para. 5). </p><p>A Greener Education with Cloud Technology </p><p>According to Newton (2010), cloud computing is the most energy-efficient method we </p><p>have to address the ever-accelerating demand for computation and data storage. The proliferation </p><p>of cloud computing promises cost savings in technology infrastructure and faster software </p><p>upgrades (Liu, Tong, Mao, Bohn, Messina, Badger, &amp; Leaf, 2011). Amazon (2014) proposed </p><p>that cloud technology will reduce overall information technology (IT) costs in that both </p><p>infrastructure and labor costs are reduced. </p><p>Schools are seeking opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint as they seek greener technologies (iLink, 2007). Ng (2010) reported that clouds could help universities reduce costs </p><p>by 74%. For instance, The University of Nebraskas Chief Information Officer Walter Weir found that moving email to the cloud resulted in a faster and less expensive system (Goulart, </p><p>2012). There are additional environmental benefits to utilizing cloud technologies. Utilizing the </p><p>cloud is a factor in greener computing, as it has been found to reduce energy, lower carbon </p><p>emissions, and decrease IT. Working in collaboration, researchers at Microsoft, Accenture, and </p><p>WSP Environment &amp; Energy estimated that for U.S. companies, cloud technologies can reduce </p><p>carbon emissions from 30 to 90% (Accenture, 2010). </p><p>A virtual education through cloud platforms reduces costs to both students and the environment </p><p>including the added expense of travel (e.g. wear on vehicles, fuel), room and board fees, and the </p><p>costs of food. According Western Governors University (WGU, 2014), dorm and food costs add at least $10,000 to $15,000 of expenditures per academic year. Also, based upon a 2008 survey, </p><p>researchers at the University of Florida found that virtual courses saved public schools money in </p><p>teaching, administrative, and technical expenses. The average traditional public K-12 school </p><p>costs an average $9,100 per pupil where an online, virtual course averages just at $4,300 </p><p>(University of Florida, 2009). Also, many older adults with children do not have the added costs </p><p>of childcare to factor in (WGU, 2014). </p><p>For those living in rural communities who have to often drive long distances to attend school, the </p><p>reduced driving will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The National Wildlife Federation </p><p>(NWF, 2009) reported that researchers from The Stockholm Environmental Institute and the </p><p>United Kingdoms Open University Design Innovation Group (DIG) found that distance-learning courses resulted in an 89 percent reduction in travel-related emissions compared to traditional </p><p>face-to-face courses. Furthermore, the production and provision of the distance learning courses </p><p>consumed nearly 90% less energy than the conventional campus-based university courses. </p><p>Similarly, in a study by Campbell and Campbell (2011), distance education courses helped </p><p>reduced CO2 emissions by 5-10 tons per semester. </p></li><li><p>GREEN COMPUTING THROUGH VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS 6 </p><p>[Insert Figure 2 about Here] See p. 28 </p><p>Big Data for Education </p><p>In the Age of Information, ubiquitous connectivity and the rise of cloud technology is </p><p>producing vast amounts of big data (see Figure 2). Big data is defined as datasets whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage, and analyze (Manyika, Chui, Brown, Bughin, Dobbs, Roxburgh, &amp; Byers, 2011, p. 1). </p><p>According to Ferreira (2013), education yields a tremendous volume of data, perhaps more than </p><p>other industry. As education moves online, new methods for data mining are occurring in order </p><p>to better understand the ways students learn. From tutoring systems to simulations and games, </p><p>opportunities to collect and analyze stu...</p></li></ul>