Over the years I posted various fragmentary thoughts on delivering software to students in BYOD (bring your own device) environments (eg Distributing Software to Students in a BYOD Environment from 5 years ago, BYOA (Bring Your Own Application) – Running Containerised Applications on the Desktop from 3 years ago, or Rethinking: Distance Education === Bring Your Own Device? yesterday).
Adding a couple more pieces to the jigsaw, today I notice this Coding Enviroment Landing Page at the University of Colorado:
The environment appears to be a JupyterHub environment bundled with VSCode inside using the
jupyter_codeserver_proxy extension and the draw.io picture editor bundled as a JupyterLab extension.
Advice is also given on running arbitrary, proxied web apps within a user session using Jupyter server proxy (Proxying Web Applications). This is a great example of one of the points of contention I have with Jim Groom, “Domain of Your Own” evangelist, and that I’ve tried to articulate over the years (not necessarily very successfully), several times previously (eg in Cloudron – Self-Hosted Docker / Containerised Apps (But Still Not a Personal Application Server?) or Publish Static Websites, Docker Containers or Node.js Apps Just by Typing: now): in particular, the desire to (create,) launch and run applications on a temporary per session basis (during a study session, for the specific purposes of launching and reading an interactive paper in a “serverless” way, etc).
The Colorado example is a really nice example of a simple multi-user environment that can be used to support student computing with an intelligent selection of tools bundled inside the container. (I’m guessing increasing numbers of universities offer similar services. Anyone got additional examples?)
Another jigsaw piece comes in the form of eduID, a federated Swedish identity service that students can use to sign in to their university services, whichever university they attend. One advantage of this is that you can create an identity when you start a university application process, and retain that identity throughout an HE career, even if you switch institution (for example, attending one as an undergrad, another as a postgrad). The eduID can also be linked to an Orcid ID, am international identifier shceme used to identify academic researchers.
eduID does then, is provide you with an identity that can be registered with an HE provider and used to access that HEI’s services. Your identity is granted, and grants you, access to their services.
So. Domain of Your Own. Hmmm… (I’ve been here before…) Distance education students, and even students in traditional universities, often study on a “bring your own device” basis. But what if that was an “Infrastructure of Your Own” basis? What would that look like?
I can imagine infrastructure being provide in various ways. For example:
- identity: a bring-your-own-identity service such as eduID;
storage: I give the institution access to my Dropbox account or Google Drive account or Microsoft Live Onebox, or something like a personal SparkleShare or Nextcloud server; when I load a personal context on an institutional service, if there is a personal user file area linked to it, it synchs to my remote linked storage;
compute: if I need to install and run software as part of my course, I might normally be expected to install it on my own computer. But what if my computer is a spun-up-on-demand server in the cloud?
(It may also be worth trying to compare those to the levels I sketched out in a fragment from a year ago in Some Rambling Thoughts on Computing Environments in Education.)
I’m absolutely convinced that all the pieces are out there to support a simple web UI that would let me log-in to and launch temporary services on on-demand servers (remote or local) and link and persist files I was working on using those services to a personal storage server somewhere. And that all it would take is some UI string’n’glue to pull them together.
PPS anyone else remember PLEs (personal learning environments) and distributed, DIY networked service oriented architecture ideas that were floating around a decade or so ago?