For today’s college students, flexibility that allows them to do their work when (and how) they want is quite important. This is precisely why many colleges are opting to shutter their computer labs in favor of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) software that allows students to access the tools and software they need on their own devices.
“By virtualizing IT resources, we can revolutionize the way students do their work, give them spaces that foster greater collaboration and expand how they use their own devices,” Casey Gordon, the IT director for the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, tells EdTech.
With IDC analysts indicating that the virtual client market will grow 8.9 percent a year from now until 2020, more colleges will likely make use of VDI to provide flexible options for students. From supporting med schools to helping engineering students access important software, we’ve looked at how colleges are making use of VDI now.
VDI Boosts Access and Provides Standard Experience
As most careers are being reshaped by technology, the academic paths that prepare students for those careers need to make use of industry-level technology.
When engineering students at the University of Southern California wanted more flexibility for the devices they could use to run graphics-intensive software, like computer-aided design, the college turned to a VDI application using Dell EMC PowerEdge R720 servers and VMware’s vSphere software, eCampus News reports.
For Iowa State University’s Department of Agronomy, three Intel-powered Dell EMC PowerEdge systems running VDI tech support the 1,000-plus students who need to run advanced simulations and projections, eCampus News reports. The virtual setup not only gives students increased access to tools, but it also gives them an efficient way to access the tools they need from one portal.
“It gives us the ability to have students use a single login screen for their labs, classrooms, distance educating and computer, and it makes things much more efficient as far as managing resources is concerned,” says Damien Bolin, the former systems support specialist for the department, in eCampus News article.
Virtual infrastructure can be a big help in providing a standardized experience for distance learning students and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs. Western Carolina University tells VMware that using the company’s Workspace One cloud software can provide a “clean and consistent experience” for all students.
Improved Remote Access Meets Refined Security
Another big reason universities turn to VDI is the layer of security it provides when students are using their own devices. University of South Carolina Upstate rolled out VDI to allow greater access to software following a BYOD push, but also to make sure that access was secure.
“IT staff needed to ensure a secure, consistent user experience across a spectrum of learning environments. Students and faculty work and study all over campus and from off-campus locations, from apartments to coffee shops,” writes Luke VanWingerden, USC Upstate’s director of client services for information technology, in an EdTech article.
But it’s not just campus security requirements that can be met using VDI. eCampus news reports that by using Dell EMC software, the Nova Southeastern University’s College of Dental Medicine is able to supply several campuses access to a dental simulation lab while complying with federal regulations concerning patient privacy by not storing that data locally.