Embracing Virtualization

Four schools solve their biggest edtech challenges with a simple solution.

GUEST COLUMN | by Ilan Paretsky

CREDIT Ericom SoftwareVirtualization technology is changing the modern classroom. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and HTML5 capabilities extend the reach and flexibility of students, staff, parents, IT personnel and administrators to enhanced educational experiences, far beyond the chalkboard.

Teachers and students are able to access all of their materials through the browser — the software is transparent to the user, meaning there’s no learning curve. Moreover, updating different applications and software for multiple and diverse endpoints no longer creates an IT headache.

Growth in online education and BYOD trends in the classroom are fueling the need for schools to adopt more progressive technologies. 

But most importantly – virtual desktop and application delivery provide better remote access, offering greater flexibility and involvement in the education process for everyone from the students to the administrators.

Remote access makes it easier for parents to get involved in their child’s education, and gain a better understanding of their child’s curriculum. It also allows students and teachers to have access to educational materials at all times, streamlining the communication process outside of the classroom. IT personnel and administrators can make updates to applications and infrastructure without the headache of physically touching endpoint devices, whether they are school-issued or not.

Virtual desktop and application solutions provide a step towards a simpler implementation of education technology and learning environments, including cloud adoption, online testing, security and the reduction of IT complexity.

Here are four examples of how educational institutions from K-12 to colleges and universities are embracing virtualization.

Movement towards the Cloud

Virtualization is making the move to the cloud easy for all levels of educational institutions, from K-12 schools to universities.

Greater Lawrence Technical School (GLTS) in Andover Massachusetts is in the process of transitioning to the cloud. As part of its one-to-one Chromebook initiative, GLTS is implementing virtualization technology to provide web-based access to Windows-based software (as well as Google apps) for every student.

With between 1,350 and 1,400 students and an expected growth of 375 students per year, GLTS needed a solution that was scalable and worked with their across-the-board adoption of Google technology as well as their legacy Windows applications.

The adoption of virtualization software greatly reduced their budget, allowing them to update a lab and make other necessary upgrades in various departments.

Streamlining the Testing Environment

With increasing national and state requirements for online testing, teachers need more computer time for their students. Schools are providing more hardware and software licensing to properly prepare their students for online testing.

Virtual access technology in the browser makes this an easy task as it allows schools to deliver the necessary applications without having to manage several hundreds or thousands of endpoint devices.

The Hapeville Charter School’s implementation of an affordable virtualization technology in June of 2014 helped them to better prepare their students for an online testing environment without compromising security.

They gained a turn-key mobile solution that expanded their computer accessibility by 400 percent.

Security for Students and Staff

The growing BYOD trend in universities and other higher education institutions is making security more of a concern.

Centrally managed, virtual desktop access gives universities more control over their applications, databases and online testing environments.

Access via the browser mitigates and sometimes eliminates device management and support costs on top of this security aspect – an important pain point for North Greenville University.

The university is using virtualization technology to drive key initiatives at the university such as BYOD policies and distance education, which require easy access to a broad range of applications from all types of devices. For them, security was a big concern, and being able to access key application through the browser mitigated this risk.

Reducing IT Complexity

Many types of virtualization technologies require software installation, but this is not the most desirable solution in an education setting.

Without endpoint installation, everything can happen in the browser. Updates and software changes are maintained and managed in one place, greatly reducing IT complexity and school IT costs.  Multiple device support becomes a Helpdesk pain of the past.

Penn State University recent transitioned to a virtual environment, reducing their help desk ticket generation by 90 percent – a huge alleviation of complexity for the IT department.

From a business perspective, the solution allowed the university to extend the learning environment to off-campus students and faculty, at home or during off hours, better facilitating remote learning and off-campus collaboration.

Growth in online education and BYOD trends in the classroom are fueling the need for schools to adopt more progressive technologies. Scalability, security and performance in a virtual desktop solution is necessary for education technologies to progress in the classroom.

Ilan Paretsky is VP Marketing at Ericom Software, a leading provider of virtualization technology that flexibly accommodates a wide range of learning scenarios,  providing educational institutions with the opportunity to extend the reach of their classrooms.

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