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STEM Students Use School Lab Software Virtually

The computer lab is loaded with heavy software. The students are home with iPads. A network solution that provides seamless and systematic access to the school lab.
Aug 28, 2020

Resembling a space-age army, thirty powerful computer workstations line the perimeter of the school computer lab. Each unit is harnessed with the graphics interface and processing power to handle the most intensive technology applications. Loaded with leading software, including AutoCAD for 3D modelling, Adobe Premiere for video editing and Adobe Photoshop for graphics, these computers are essential to a STEM – or STEAM - curriculum.

Just one glitch. The students are locked down at home. As schools continue to navigate their safe reopening plans, some schools are going fully online while others are opting for a hybrid blend. Either way, those computer labs, with their wealth of resources, are not being utilized fully. While remote desktop is possible, orchestrating it systematically for several hundred high schoolers involves a system-wide intervention.

These were several Allegheny County school districts’ conundrums as they planned their academic year. Turning to DES as their technology provider, DES network engineers merged these computer lab timetables with the schools' remote access system. When the clock hits 10:05 AM on a Monday morning, Mrs. Garcia’s ninth grade sketch-up class gets automatic access to the computer lab when they sign into the network. Once that class period is over, tenth grade virtually enters the lab for multimedia. With the virtual system, the lab is fully utilized as if the classes were taking place in-person. In some cases, the instructor can be physically present in the lab and rotate from computer to computer observing the students’ work. As an option, the school could enable the students to talk with and get assistance from their teacher in real-time.

One school district that DES worked with provided Bluetooth mice and keyboards to augment student iPads. While the screen size is not as large as the lab computer monitors, the zoom function and interactivity still allow for a detailed workflow. One user described the usability as so immersive, they completely forgot they were working on their iPad from home.

Greg DiFiore, network manager at DES, explained the ease of implementing the system. “For those customers already using the Fortigate firewall from Fortinet, it’s a matter of configuring the advanced settings. We use the existing network infrastructure - no additional hardware is needed.” For clients without Fortinet software, DES can still work with you to arrive at the same solution.

Please call our account managers with your network conundrum. Together, we can keep school doors open during these unsettled times.

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