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Modernizing Learning with End-User Computing

How cloud-based virtual desktops and applications can enable successful distance or hybrid learning for every student.

by AWS/DLT / December 3, 2020
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Whether working on a project after school or taking a class online, students in both K-12 and higher education need to be able to quickly and easily access school resources from their own devices.

Students need this remote access to resources now more than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a massive shift to hybrid and virtual learning. While many K-12 school districts supplied students with laptops and other devices to navigate distance learning, students also need anywhere access to applications they might have previously used in a computer lab.

Faculty and staff working remotely also require access, not only to various applications, but also to their work desktops. Employees must be able to connect to necessary software, share files and collaborate with team members.

End-user computing (EUC) solutions help faculty, students and administrators gain virtual access to the desktops and applications they need. Amazon WorkSpaces, a desktop-as-as-service (DaaS) solution, provides users with cloud-based desktops, or WorkSpaces, they can open on any supported device. Amazon Web Services (AWS) also has a cloud-based application streaming service, AppStream, which allows administrators to deliver applications directly to users on their devices of choice. K-12 and higher education institutions can collaborate with DLT Solutions to efficiently move these workloads onto the AWS cloud.

With EUC tools like WorkSpaces and AppStream, faculty, staff and students have anytime, anywhere access to important tools and information. This access allows students to continue their education without interruption.

Learning and Growing in the Cloud

EUC solutions allow schools to provide virtual desktops and applications to all users. But while traditional virtual desktops and applications rely on on-premises solutions like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), modern end-user computing solutions like WorkSpaces rely on cloud-based technologies.

Unlike on-premise solutions, cloud-based EUC solutions do not require schools to purchase any hardware or infrastructure, saving schools money and valuable classroom space. This is particularly important for K-12 schools and universities, many of which face both budget shortfalls and physical space issues.

For example, when the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce struggled to find enough computer labs for its growing student population, leaders there realized they required a DaaS solution.

“As our school continues to add more students and programs, we don’t have physical space and financial resources to add rows and rows of workstations to our physical computer labs,” said Eric Rzeszut, associate director of client services for the McIntire School. “Virtual desktop products give faculty freedom to book regular classrooms without workstations and ask students to bring their own laptops.”

Cloud-based EUCs also allow schools to easily scale to respond to changes in the number of students, faculty or staff who need virtual desktops at any point. This scalability is useful for schools that might see annual fluctuations in their enrollment, or for schools that might start the year with in-person learning and then switch to hybrid or remote learning.

Not only can schools easily scale cloud-based EUCs, but they can also create them quickly. When the Fife School District turned to DLT to integrate WorkSpaces and Appstream into the district, it valued the seamless and speedy transition. According to the district’s manager of infrastructure technology and support services, Keith Stevens, schools “can stand up a new WorkSpace in less than 30 minutes, meaning we can deploy an entire lab of business-critical software in that time.”

Equal Access for All

With EUC solutions, students no longer need a physical school to be successful in their classes. They can now open their laptops or other devices and quickly deploy applications they would normally only be able to access in a computer lab.

Access to these tools is critical for equity in education. As McIntire explains, EUC solutions “give students an even playing field. Students are all using the same hardware – an identical virtual machine. No one student has an advantage over the other.”

With virtual access to desktops and applications, students who might need extra time to complete an assignment can do so from home, without having to visit a physical computer lab that is only open during specific hours.

Equity in education is a particular concern during the pandemic. When students were forced to shift to virtual or hybrid learning, some students were left without access to the same technologies as other students. With virtual desktops and applications, every student has all the necessary learning tools at their fingertips.

Innovation in Education

EUC solutions are part of a broader movement in education toward flexible, accessible education. With easy access to necessary educational software and applications, students can work from almost anywhere, and complete projects on their own time.

Many of the applications and tools students can now access on their devices were not previously available to use outside the classroom. For example, while a student might have once had to use an on-premises computer to design a project using CAD software, he or she can now do this from any location, on almost any device.

According to Stevens, with these modern EUC tools, “students are now innovators 24 hours a day.”

EUC solutions have empowered education institutions with the ability to respond quickly and securely to this new remote landscape. Currently, there are hundreds of thousands of active users utilizing various solutions and that number is only growing. DLT is the first public sector distributor and premier consulting partner for AWS. DLT can make the path to the cloud seamless and cost-efficient for education institutions. Contact cloud@dlt.com today to learn more.

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