Virtual Computing Laboratories: A Case Study with Comparisons to Physical Computing Laboratories
Journal of Information Technology Education Volume 8, ISSN 1547-9714
Current technology enables schools to provide remote or virtual computing labs that can be implemented in multiple ways ranging from remote access to banks of dedicated workstations to sophisticated access to large-scale servers hosting virtualized workstations. This paper reports on the implementation of a specific lab using remote access to dedicated workstations and supporting students enrolled in degree programs in management. Such a lab can be implemented at relatively low cost by reallocating resources dedicated to existing physical labs.Virtual computing labs pose significant challenges in configuration, operation, and administration. All of these challenges can be adequately addressed with sufficient planning and management. These authors provide direct comparisons of physical and virtual computing labs in the areas of security, administration, and cost. They report generally positive student perceptions of the virtual computing lab as compared to the previous physical computing lab with respect to accessibility, usability, and value, though those perceptions vary depending on student background and technical skill. Non-technical students can be overwhelmed or disoriented when using a virtual computing lab. Addressing this problem requires devoting sufficient resources to training, user interface design, and ongoing support for both student and faculty users. (Contains 3 figures and 6 tables.)
Burd, S.D., Seazzu, A.F. & Conway, C. (2009). Virtual Computing Laboratories: A Case Study with Comparisons to Physical Computing Laboratories. Journal of Information Technology Education, 8, 55-78.