When I was in school, computer labs were a luxury. Many schools were just receiving their first few computers, so for my class to have access, once a week, to a room of 12 computers was like getting the chance to drive a Ferrari on your 16th birthday. I vividly remember turning on a beige colored terminal and monitor, inserting a floppy disk that was about the size of an iPad mini, and getting straight to work—on the Oregon Trail. Technology in the classroom today looks much different, but it continues to be vital part of education.

The rapid evolution of technology is changing the way we learn, work and educate. Students want the freedom to learn and study using the latest software or applications on any device, in the location where they feel most productive and inspired.

As we head back to campus this fall, you might notice that several schools have invested in new technology in an effort to improve the learning experience for students. Many schools are turning to virtualization technology to provide anywhere, any device access to make learning more convenient, accessible, and affordable.  Typically, applications and software needed for class are only available in the classroom or computer lab, but by virtualizing desktops, applications, and data, you can deliver them to the student, on his or her personal laptop or tablet at home, in the library—anywhere.

A public school district brings a new meaning to “backpacks”

Atlanta Public School (APS) district students will be sure to notice a few changes when classes are in session. MyBackPack, which officially launches at the start of the 2014-2015 school year, is an innovative initiative that will leverage virtualization technology to enhance and personalize learning for every student in the district. Students receive a secure user login and password to access MyBackPack where they will have access to assignments, safe internet browser, and a full menu of applications needed to learn and study.

MyBackPack—using virtual applications and desktops—will also allow APS to offer a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) program for students, faculty, and staff. Anytime, any device learning opens the door to new learning opportunities for students at all levels. It doesn’t matter if you or your school can afford the latest, shiny new laptop or computer. Students have the same, high quality learning environment regardless of device.

America’s second largest public university empowers student mobility

Students at the University of Central Florida (UCF) will also enjoy the benefits of virtualization technology as they arrive for the fall semester. UCF Apps will enable software mobility by providing curriculum-essential apps, such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint, SPSS, SAS, ArcGIS, and many more to students anywhere, on any device. No longer will students need to wait in line at the computer lab or even need to come on campus to study or complete work. They can now work, learn, and study from their dorm room, outside on campus, or in their favorite coffee shop.

Getting started is easy. Students simply sign up at apps.ucf.edu using their student login and password. The focus for this project is students. However, UCF Apps lays the foundation for a long term virtualization strategy for UCF. They recognize many use cases for virtualization, including software mobility for faculty and staff, virtual labs and classrooms, task specific kiosks/signage, development sandboxes—the possibilities are endless.

Mobile students need mobile workspaces with on-demand, secure access to the apps, data and services they require, expanding beyond traditional methods to promote independent and exploratory learning – without compromising security or compliance. Embrace mobility and promote a lifetime of learning.

These are just a two examples of how mobile workspaces are empowering students to learn, work, and study anywhere, on any device. For more information on how schools are leveraging Citrix virtualization to power student mobile workspaces, please visit citrix.com/education.

Related education content:

[On-demand webinar] Capture the benefits of “IT as a service” in education

[On-demand webinar] Education IT Best Practices and Lessons Learned: The Journey to a Mobile Campus, Indiana University

About the author

Nicole Nesrsta – Manager, Vertical Solutions Marketing & Strategy, Education

Nicole Nesrsta is a leader in solutions and vertical marketing and strategy in the high-tech industry. At Citrix, Nicole is responsible for designing and executing global, company-wide go-to-market strategies for the education market. With a passion for solving business problems with technology solutions, Nicole has enjoyed 5 years in various solutions sales and marketing roles—targeting audiences at all levels: executive, line of business, and IT. Nicole holds a bachelors and masters degree from the University of Florida. You are welcome to connect with her via twitter and linkedin.