Banks of student workstations may be replaced by online computer labs | News

Banks of student workstations may be replaced by online computer labs

vclAlmost all of the software that your students need – whether on campus or at a distance – can now be provided by a workstation accessible from a laptop.

Powerful computation software and everyday computer software packages can be accessed through the “image” of a workstation that creates a single stop for all students by creating a virtual lab – on the cloud.

The Virtual Computing Lab service streamlines licensing, hardware, time and money in the process. It also allows students to get access to course software at any time, from any location, and at no cost.

Piloted at the Universities of Alberta and Lethbridge over the past year, the Virtual Computing Lab was created specifically for Alberta institutions by Cybera, the advanced technical agency that operates Alberta’s Research & Education Network and related services. The University of Alberta is now exploring opportunities to expand the service.

“Prior to providing the Virtual Computing Lab, most students in my courses spent long hours in, or waiting to use, the graduate computer lab,” said David Ryan, Professor in the Department of Economics.  “As someone who teaches almost solely in the area of econometrics, a quantitative side of economics that makes extensive use of computing, I have come to greatly appreciate this service.”

The online service also frees up classroom space, reduces the need for banks of computer workstations and their costly maintenance and upgrades, and decreases the demand for university technical support.

“In one case, the Virtual Computing Lab has completely eliminated the need for computers in the lab,” says Donna Gorday, Director of Client Services, Academic Information and Communication Technologies. “Students tell us they find the online lab is easy to use, and it’s certainly reduced calls to our help desk. It’s a win-win-win situation.”  

To find out more about the program and the software it supports, please contact:

Donna Gorday, Director of Client Services, AICT, University of Alberta
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(780) 492-3343

David Chan, Project Manager, Cybera
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(403) 210-5332

More information about the service is also available online: http://www.cybera.ca/projects/virtual-computing-lab