Technology has allowed so much growth with how education is delivered in the past few years. We can now reach a greater audience than we ever could before with the upward trend of more and more individuals participating in social media.
Technology will now allow us to take the classroom to the students where ever they are.
Whether you are reaching out to your students with Twitter in the classroom, or you just want to take the entire campus to them. Taking the campus to the students is what we will cover in this document.
Some educators are old enough to remember when everything ran on the mainframe with unix dumb terminals connected through an XTerm emulator. Then Apple and Microsoft came along and decentralized everything. #stevejobs and #billgates ( Little #socialmedia humor there for you) did a great job of making desktop computers available and affordable to a large audience. This created the technology boom of the late 1990’s and is what has made today’s technology possible.
Finally, after years of running decentralized environments where servers delivered content to desktops, people started to notice there is a lot of wasted energy and CPU cycles on these huge servers. Then the tech companies started to realize they had it right the first time. A centralized system is more efficient than a decentralized system. Instead of wasting those resources allow the system to decide where resources should be allocated in real time and as workload varies.
This provides your students/ users/ customers with the best experience while allowing the institution to minimize costs. In this day and age of ever shrinking budgets, every dollar counts.
The government is spending a lot of money with their stimulus programs, but we haven’t seen it in education. Educational institutions are been expected to graduate more students, increase enrollment and retention while at the same time of dealing with a shrinking budget.
This is especially true of rural community-based institutions where budgets are shrinking at a greater pace as their enrollment is normally smaller than the urban counterparts. The smaller schools still must reach many of the same goals as the larger schools but with fewer resources. This is where distance learning has leveled the playing field some. The advent of the internet and has allowed institutions to take the college to the student at a fraction of the cost of having a student in a classroom and lab.
Today we can record videos online and publish entire master degrees through MOOC programs at a fraction of the cost of a traditional college degree. When the GA Tech masters MOOC program opens, students from anywhere in the world will be able to obtain an advanced degree in computer science from one of the most prestigious engineering schools in the United States. They are using technology as an enabler and reaping the benefits of that innovation.
One of the main obstacles facing rural educators from really growing their distance technology delivery is that most of their students are lower income and just can’t afford to have computers or high-speed internet to do their classes. This puts these individuals are a disadvantage and adds barriers to their successful completion of their education.
In small community and technical colleges, most of the programs revolve around utilizing software applications such as Autocad, or Creative Suite which are both very expensive for the average first in family students. Students are just poor no matter if they come from a rich family, those years in college are normally the cheapest living any of us will ever do.
Of course, then you have the specialty medical billing software and specialized electronics and engineering platforms that only businesses or institutions can even obtain. Not having those courses available to distance students puts them at a disadvantage over traditional on-campus students. With the advent of cloud computing and the move back to centralized environments, you can now bring the same value of practice to the distance learning students just as you do your lecture and lab students all while saving money.
Desktop As A Service is a buzz word going around along with Software As A Service. They both accomplish the same thing, they expose the functionality of an application to a broader audience than you could normally reach. VMware and Microsoft have both created products which you can use to publish your lab desktops to authorized students on the device of their choice. I have been able to run nursing software on my iPhone. I’ve had a full desktop on my iPad. Both of these also run on Android devices. This means utilizing the power of virtualization you can have students access a web page and immediately access a student desktop just as they would in the back row of your lab.
Future posts will explain how we did this so make sure to subscribe. There will be step by steps on how to expose the desktops in a secure manner along with screenshots in a later post.