What Is Peer-to-Peer?
The term “peer-to-peer” has various meanings under different circumstances, when mentioned in the context of digital and network settings, especially nowadays with the popularity of Internet usage, this term is often used to describe a type of decentralized and distributed network architecture, in which individual nodes in the network act as both suppliers and consumers of data resources (ref.); these nodes, i.e. the “peers”, are actually end-user devices, such as personal computers, PDAs, iPads, and mobile devices with accessibility to Internet.
Initially, when different kinds of end-user devices become common in people’s daily life, they are often connected together through the local area networks to certain central servers to get access to files, videos, audios, and other information. These central servers are typically more powerful than the personal computers, so any large data processing can take place on these central servers, allowing the end-users to download files onto their personal computers.
In contrast to the centralized client–server network architecture, where the clients request access to resources provided by central servers, the peer-to-peer network will “share” the computing power among multiple inter-connected peers, who each make a portion of their resources, such as data computing, disk storage, or network bandwidth etc., directly available to other network participants without the need for any coordination by the central servers (ref.). Under the peer-to-peer network architecture, various end-user devices become much more powerful; they are now able to process the data locally rather than on central servers. As a result, the peer-to-...
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...m is not as easy as it appears to be. In addition to managing the changes of technologies themselves, institutions will have to deal with a series of changes, including people’s acceptances of changes, pedagogical modifications, the requirement of continuous learning, and possibly institutional re-organization. As a result, the introductions of peer-to-peer technologies may not be comfortable for all and the outcomes remain unforeseeable.
Ahn, J., Butler, B. S., Alam, A., & Webster, S. A. (2013). Learner Participation and Engagement in Open Online Courses: Insights from the Peer 2 Peer University. Journal of Online Learning & Teaching, 9(2).
Tu, X., Jin, H., Liao, X., & Cao, J. (2008). Nearcast: A locality-aware P2P live streaming approach for distance education. ACM Transactions on Internet Technology (TOIT), 8(2), 2.
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