Virtual Labs in Higher Education of Computer Science

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Abstract: Cost efficiency is an often mentioned strength of cloud computing. In times of decreasing educational budgets virtual labs provided by cloud computing might be therefore an interesting option for higher education organizations or IT training facilities. An analysed use case of a web technology lecture and a corresponding practical course of a computer science study programme shows that is not possible to answer the question in general whether cloud computing approaches are economical or not. The general implication of this finding for higher education is, that the application of cloud computing can be only answered from a course specific point of view. This contribution shows why. But also how universities, colleges or other IT training facilities can make profound and course specific decisions for or against cloud based virtual labs from an economic point of view. The presented approach is inspired by Weinmans “mathematical proof of the inevitability of cloud computing”. The key idea is to compare peak to average usage of virtual labs and relate this ratio to costs of classical dedicated labs. The ratio of peak and average usage indicates whether a use case (from a pure economical point of view) is cloud compatible or not. This contribution derives also some findings when cloud computing in higher education has economical advantages or disadvantages. Regarding the analysed use case it turned out that virtual labs are able to provide a more than 25 times cost advantage compared to classical dedicated approaches. Virtual labs can be applied frictionless to classical as well as distance study programmes and virtual labs provide a convenient infrastructure for project as well as problem based learning in computer science. Nevertheless provider of virtual labs should always consider usage and resulting cost characteristics. This article shows how to do this.

Details [Kra2012a]

Title: Virtual Labs in Higher Education of Computer Science
In Journal: Education
Volume: 2
Pages: 239-246
Doi: 10.5923/
Publication year: 2012


  researchgate = {},
  author = {Kratzke, Nane},
  date-modified = {2014-02-13 07:29:26 +0000},
  doi = {10.5923/},
  issn = {2162-9463},
  journal = {Education},
  month = {11/2012},
  pages = {239-246},
  title = {Virtual Labs in Higher Education of Computer Science},
  volume = {2},
  year = {2012},
  bdsk-url-1 = {},
  bdsk-url-2 = {}