5 Reasons Universities Are Using Clientless Solutions for BYOD
Most contemporary universities make liberal use of educational technology. Online courses, e-textbooks and the use of social networks have become the norm in higher education. However, along with this wealth of resources, comes a challenge: IT support and management for all of this new technology.
One institution that faced this challenge is Antioch University. The university provided doctoral students with IBM SPSS predictive analytics software for research purposes in its labs. However, students were hindered by the fact that they were unable to work remotely or access the software on their own devices. The university began to search for a BYOD / remote access solution that would allow students and faculty to access learning resources from a broad range of devices, without overextending their IT department.
Administrators and faculty at Antioch decided to go with a clientless, HTML5-based solution to power BYOD, citing the following key benefits:
1. Enhanced comfort and convenience – The majority of students at universities own their own laptops, tablets and smartphones, and are in the habit of working from various environments, such as the library, coffee shops and at home. When students are bound to the physical premises in order to get their work done, productivity is dependent on external factors such as availability of the technology or proximity to the campus. BYOD offers the flexibility for students to conduct research at their own convenience using the devices they are comfortable with. By providing clientless access from anywhere and any device, students are empowered to be more productive.
2. Reduced costs of university-owned computer labs by creating a "virtual lab"– In a traditional university-owned computer lab, the IT department is kept busy maintaining and managing hundreds of individual desktops, installing patches and upgrades, and providing support to students and staff. With BYOD, the university saves on hardware costs as existing devices age or the student body grows. And with a clientless solution, there is no endpoint configuration, so there is no need to install and maintain software on hundreds or thousands of individual workstations. Moreover, the capability to virtualize applications allows universities to optimize licensing agreements, significantly reducing licensing fees. Costs saved on computer labs translate into more funds available for other improvements in the student technology fabric.
3. Increased learning potential – When students are connected to a virtual classroom 24/7, they can use their devices to access a wealth of knowledge and to teach others around them. BYOD fosters collaboration and innovative learning outside the classroom (and even off-campus) so that students don’t “close their books” at the end of the school day.
4. Enhanced classroom experience – BYOD isn’t just for time spent out of class. The in-class student experience is also enhanced when each student brings his or her own personal device into the classroom, allowing them to interact and capture ideas from key conversations. Self-directed, active learning can take place both in and outside the university classroom when each student has a smart device.
5. Accessible – With managed, browser-based access to academic resources, students can access expensive software such as Adobe Creative Suite, IBM SPSS, MATLAB and more, using the university’s existing software licenses. This reduces the financial burden on students, as they don’t need to purchase their own personal software licenses. Another advantage to an HTML5-based access solution is that it works on and any all devices, including Chromebooks, iPads, and even locked down workstations. A clientless solution ensures that all students are able to use their favorite devices to avail themselves of the college’s software, without worrying about device compatibility.
After extensive research, Antioch University chose Ericom’s managed access solution to connect students anywhere and everywhere, using any standard browser. The university saved on additional licenses, installation costs and support. Its students became more productive and enjoyed immediate access to research tools from their preferred devices. Faculty, students and IT staff all reported increased satisfaction in the new system, and much preferred it to the old method of conducting research in the university’s labs.
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