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  • 10 June 2004 16:34

UTS pioneers virtual computer lab for students

The University of Technology, Sydney is pioneering a new phase in online education with an initiative to give students remote access to specialist computer applications they use as part of their courses.

UTS is nearing the end of a Virtual Lab pilot project which has allowed participating students to run various University licensed applications via their home internet connection or over the wireless computer network on the UTS City campus.

"These are the kinds of applications students would normally have to go to a computer lab to use," said Virtual Lab Project Manager Simon Chung from the UTS Information Technology Division. "We're talking about things like design software, business simulations and strategy games, database applications and software development tools.

"Essentially the aim is to reduce pressure on the University's general access computing facilities and make life a bit easier for students who might otherwise have to make a special trip to the campus or wait for a free terminal in a lab.

"On the campus it means that students can work from their laptop in a café or lounge area. For students who are a long way from home it means they can continue an assignment while they're away.

"Of course the power of the remote user's computer and the speed of their internet connection are potential limiting factors. Design software, for instance, really requires a broadband connection to work properly.

"We believe we're at the leading edge of Australian universities in developing this kind of service and the students who've been involved in the pilot have been giving very positive feedback.

"Later this month we'll review surveys from the participants and talk to the software vendors. If the system works well and the costs stack up it will be introduced as a permanent service."

The Virtual Lab is a web portal to a Citrix Systems server that allows multiple applications to be run simultaneously. Mr Chung said the system trialled in the pilot project could handle 50 concurrent users.

Further Information: Simon Chung, Ph (02) 9514 1748

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