Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Virtual Labs Offer Benefits of Mobility, Affordability--Not Just in IT

Campus Technology’s Dian Schaffhausser reported today on the Engineering department at Colorado State University and the virtual labs they use to support their students’ mobile learning. Because many students travel frequently as part of their education, the department needed a curriculum solution that would allow students to keep up with class material without needing to be in the classroom. Mark Ritschard, IT director for the Engineering Network Services department, found a solution in virtual labs. Schaffhausser wrote, “With the Web becoming a central point for many universities and colleges, Ritschard said, it made sense for his department to set up shop online.”

While virtual labs allowed students to work from a distance, they were also an affordable solution, saving the department about $1,000 per year per seat because it didn’t need to provide as much physical equipment for each student to use. In fact, with the money it saved, the department was actually able to increase the number of students it serves.

Sound familiar? Many academic institutions have experienced similar benefits by using LabSim training courses to train their IT students. The virtual labs in LabSim give students realistic, hands-on experience working with equipment that most institutions could not otherwise afford. Many institutions—high schools, colleges, career centers, and universities—have found that LabSim is an effective supplement to classroom instruction or an effective core piece of the curriculum. And with LabSim training available through any major Web browser, it is a flexible training solution for mobile students.

Of the virtual labs Ritschard has implemented for engineering students, he said that students only need a computer and Internet access—and it doesn’t have to be the greatest computer either. He said, “All engineering students get the same experience, whether they’re sitting in the actual university lab or working from a remote location. . . . From the student perception, there's really no difference at all.”

Has your experience providing LabSim IT training to your students been similar to Ritschard’s experience? How have virtual labs benefited your institution and your students? Please leave a comment and let us know.

Emily Howard, TestOut

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