Using Google Cloud for Teaching Undergraduate Courses/Modules

Computer Science teaching is getting more and more hands-on. As most of graduate students land on positions that have more or less relevance with cloud computing, giving hands-on experience to our students will not only stimulate their learning interest but also improve their competitiveness in the job market, i.e. better employability.

I have had experience of teaching cloud computing using Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Interoute (now GTT), and Google Cloud. Limited amount of teaching credit is easy to get from AWS (https://aws.amazon.com/education/awseducate/) and Google (https://edu.google.com/products/google-cloud/), but Google wins with an easier to follow starting page, a dedicate education team and faculty group. For this reasons I have been using Google Cloud in my teaching at Loughborough University since it became available in the UK back in 2018.

I’m teaching two undergraduate modules at Loughborough, namely COB290 Team Projects and COC105 Cloud Computing.

COC290 is for our second year students to learn and gain experience of working in teams. Alongside dealing with their team dynamics, each team needs to learn some key technical skills in order to deliver their project to ‘clients’ timely. One of the key skills, hence, is to be able to host their solutions on the cloud (i.e. either IaaS or PaaS).

COC105 is for final year students who’d like to pursue deeper knowledge of cloud computing, from the underpinning technologies to the future development. This requires a combination of theory understanding and hands-on exercises (a mixture of Qwiklabs and my own labs).

The Google Cloud for Education has two credit funding models. You can apply for limited amount of credit (usually $50) to be claimed by your students using their own email address (once your application has been successful you will be sent with instructions) or to be given a lump sum ($5000 in my case) to be shared with students. My COC105 module fit very well for the former as student will also get the opportunity to manage their own spending via billing accounts whilst my COB290 suits the latter better. This is because students work in teams and it’s a lot harder for inexperienced users to constantly switching billing and projects among team members. In other words, it’s easier to share a chunk of credits with them and hide the complexity of billing for later – and this was my important lesson learned.

Google Cloud for Education credits can be applied via this page: https://edu.google.com/products/google-cloud/. It’s a very straight-forward application process. In the same form you will find the option to select individual or lump sum credit.