The Evolution of Computer Labs

Session Host/Speaker(s)

Physical computer labs, both instructional and drop-in, are not dead yet, contrary to the idea that students are all BYOD-capable and do not need physical spaces in which to use computers for classes, homework, or study. There is still a place for dedicated computer labs, but the ways in which computer labs are designed and delivered requires a significant transition in order to better meet campus needs.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic forced our hand to remote instruction, UC Merced OIT was able to push forward the rollout of remote access to physical computers located on campus and new virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). In the spirit of "never let a crisis go to waste", we leveraged the success of those efforts into a strategy for transforming our computer labs for the Fall 2021 return to campus. Our proposal will combine those technologies with physical computer lab spaces.

This session will cover:

  • how we designed our remote access and cloud VDI services
  • our 5-year plan for transforming campus computer labs
  • student laptop requirements
  • the case for dedicated computer labs space
  • tentative plans to create an active learning computer lab

Technologies discussed include:

  • Cloud VDI: Amazon AppStream, Apporto, AzureLabs
  • Remote Computer Access: Guacamole, Remote Desktop, RemoteLabs
  • Also: Steelcase flexible furniture, Intel and Dell thin clients, multimedia production