Large-scale server-side infrastructure for e-learning: development, design and experiences

Simpkins, Neil (2011). Large-scale server-side infrastructure for e-learning: development, design and experiences. In: Jin, Qun ed. Intelligent Learning Systems and Advancements in Computer-Aided Instruction: Emerging Studies. IGI Global, pp. 250–267.



The rapid growth of E-business has greatly increased the demand for technology graduates with experience in server-side technology and has thus become an increasingly important area for educators. Server-side skills are in increasing demand and recognised to be of relatively greater value than comparable client-side aspects (Ehie, 2002; e-skills 2011). In response to this many educational organisations have developed E-business courses, but their approaches cannot generally be applied in the distance learning context. Here the design, development, and subsequent experiences of a scalable architecture for the provision of a set of server-side applications to a very large number of students are described. This infrastructure is intended to allow students to gain valuable experience of server side technology such as directory services, deployment, and management of Web services and other administrative applications. Whilst students can be supported in installing the server software used in courses on their own machines, it is not possible to guarantee that this type of sophisticated software will function on such a wide range of platforms and in the context of other conflicting software, without very prolonged intervention, which is not practical within the timescales of a course. To allow server side aspects to be included as a component of the course’s assessment with some fairness it is necessary to guarantee students access to such facilities even if this is not possible on a student’s own machine.

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