Archive for the ‘eLearning’ Category

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Virtual Labs and Education

December 20, 2007

j0401818.jpgI posted this article yesterday on ZDnet’s education IT site:

Virtual labs and education by ZDNet‘s ejosowitz@surgient.com —

Yesterday, I asked for people to share their thoughts via a guest blog on virtualization in Ed Tech. Guest blogger Erik Josowitz provided us with the following (thanks, Erik). Feel free to talk back or submit your own guest blog with some specific experiences or implementation details.

Virtualization is great tool but, like any Swiss-Army knife, success with it depends on the task at hand. One of the places that people get into trouble with virtualization is when they try to use out-of-the-box virtual infrastructure with non-technical audiences. Virtualization is a great solution but often is not a complete solution.

In education we’ve frequently seen challenges that look like appropriate places to implement a virtualization solution, only to find that the end-result is not fully usable by the intended audience. One example is providing hands-on lab environments to support application training. Success in the workforce today depends on high-level application skills and there is no better way for students to attain those skills than through hands-on use of the software applications.

Many educational institutions provide computer lab environments to help support their student population and provide access to necessary software applications. Many of these lab environments have become the source of IT management problems as they become virus-ridden, get subverted as distribution sites for pirated software or music, or just plain have the normal IT management issues associated with a shared resource in a public environment.

For many institutions their student population brings with them their own PCs which solves one problem but creates another. The lab issues diminish but the problems of providing secure access to software (and software licenses) often takes its place.

The answer, we’ve found, is virtual lab management – using virtualization to deliver secure computing environments as a shared resource. Virtual labs allow administrators to serve up a clean and unchangeable environment for each student – in the lab or on their own PC – on-demand. This makes it easy to provide access to applications that students either can’t afford individually or that their home PCs cannot support. It makes it simple to track and monitor lab usage and to control the use of resources so that systems are not subverted into file servers. Virtual lab management sits on top of virtualization (from Microsoft or VMware) and tells it what to deliver and to who. It makes it easy for non-technical users to select the types of applications they need from a menu and to gain access to those environments without needing to understand virtualization, networking, hosts systems or anything about how it gets delivered. Best of all, virtual labs make it easy to manage capacity. By scheduling time in the lab environment the shared resource is managed for maximum utilization. If more capacity is needed it is simple to add additional resources to the system. The end-users simply see an increase in availability.

Virtualization may not be a panacea for educational institutions, but for a subset of problems, a centralized virtual lab may enable technology administrators to focus their time and attention on enabling learning rather than administering systems.

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The Technology Source Archives – Online Drop Rates Revisited

May 1, 2007

The Diaz article that WierdGuy mentions

The Technology Source Archives – Online Drop Rates Revisited

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Online Learning: Retention is Everyones Issue « WeirdGuy

May 1, 2007

WierdGuy notes (Online Learning: Retention is Everyones Issue « WeirdGuy) that eLearning has retention issues. He lists, based on Diaz, the high drop rates asssociated with non-corporate eLearning and some reasons why. One big difference he misses, though, is the typical lack of a hands-on component in a non-classroom eLearning setting. They should look at virtual labs as a means of bringing hands-on back to the learning environment for online software training.  My guess would be that there is significantly higher retention and lower drop rates where hands-on labs are used in combo with other eLearning technologies.

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Corporate Learning Market $55B+

April 27, 2007

A recent study by Bersin & Associates, “Corporate Learning Factbook” has some interesting stats.

  • Total spending on corporate learning now tops $55 billion, up from $51B in 2005
  • 60% of their respondents use virtual classroom technologies, and 25% use other technologies designed to enhance the learning process
  • Technology companies spend an average of $2,763 per learner
  • Sales training and management training are the highest priorities for corporate learning.

For more see www.bersin.com/factbook

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livewebclass.com Blog » How to Avoid a Train Wreck

April 25, 2007

Jim Recker, formerly of Siebel University and Oracle and now the founder of Nekoss, presented a webinar yesterday on how to maximize the attentiveness of students in a virtual training environment by using virtual labs.

livewebclass.com Blog » How to Avoid a Train Wreck