I respect where you are coming from. Yes tech does move quickly, and while I create teaching material, I also develop real world products, though those products are educational in nature. I’m sure with a week or two I could understand the system, and as a developer to deployment solution AWS is fine.
However, teaching first time developers, or developers with limited experience the AWS system is far too jargon heavy, the interface is too complicated and honestly upon first glance it was all a little bewildering. That’s with years of experience behind me. So a novice is going to have a very hard time of it.
The pricing structure is too complicated as well, 750 hours compute time. I presume on a single core system that’s a month of constant running without any issues. But I’m not 100% sure. Then there’s storage costs. I think I get 5gb free, but again I’m not sure. I’m also not sure if that 5gb is for a single instance, or if I can create multiple instances and they all get 5gb free. There’s plenty of extra features that, I’m not ashamed I have no idea if I’d be charged or not, or even sure if they are needed.
AWS makes a lot of sense of large developments and deployments. It’s excellent at scaling, It’s a very good system, and the pricing is probably very reasonable.
However, that’s not what students need unless they are doing some very advanced coursework at a far higher level than I teach.
What I need as an educator, is a way to bring students into my class. A front end that isn’t going to blow their minds. No danger if them getting charged or their spaces being shut down because they don’t understand the limits of the system.
I chose cloud9 originally because as an educator I could add students to a team, easily manage them, and view their spaces with the minimum of effort. The IDE was excellent, it exposed them to a little Linux, while allowing me to focus on web technologies. It even had the ability to expand into python and other languages later on.
While the same functionality is still there and a lot more besides it demonstrates several key issues for me:
I am not in control of how and when the IDE might change. Students, especially new ones to coding are extremely sensitive when videos and documentation doesn’t match what is on screen.
Updating course ware that takes months to put together when changes do happen is slow, if the changes happen in the middle of a semester then there’s not a lot I can do about it.
The system appears unpolished and confusing to even moderately technical people. Which means a steeper learning curve.
AWS seems to have a clear focus on developers going to market, rather than developers learning.
I’m in doubt as to how long the existing cloud9 system will be around, as I have a ton of existing written and video material for the product it vanishing would basically throw all that work out the window.
These are my thoughts. Cloud9 was almost ideal for education. But my feeling is that they aren’t really keeping that in mind as they move forward. So I’d rather bail out now while I’ve got some holiday time to invest in a different system, and get ahead of this thing. Rather than finding six months down the line that the key product my work relies upon has gone.