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Cloud-based computer labs available for Canvas courses

From: Division of Information Technology

Many Virginia Tech courses rely on computer labs for in-class instruction or homework. Adding a cloud-based computer lab to a Canvas course provides students convenient access to a variety of software options with a consistent desktop experience for all users. 

When instructors choose a virtual desktop to be integrated with their Canvas site they can request customizations to the operating system and software available to students in order to

  • replicate a computer lab environment virtually,
  • enable access to software that may be cost-prohibitive for students to purchase, and
  • provide software that may have complicated installation procedures.

Cloud-based computer labs support Windows and Linux virtualization and include collaborative features such as screen sharing, faculty view of student desktops, the option for faculty to provide direct assistance on students’ screens, and user profile persistence.

Virtual desktops can include both free and paid software applications that have been approved for use at Virginia Tech and licensed by the university, department, or instructor. Some applications may not be available due to licensing restrictions and physical hardware requirements. In these cases, TLOS will work with faculty members to identify alternative solutions wherever possible.

While Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) explores the need and the best options for delivering cloud-based computer labs via Canvas, there will be no charge for this service. A full business model, including costs, will be developed as a result of this exploration. More detailed information will be provided upon consultation.

TLOS, a unit of the Division of Information Technology, provides end-user support, training, quality assurance, and documentation for enterprise learning systems and services. To request a consultation, complete the computer lab request form.

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