Calling all instructors who use computer labs in teaching

Alberta instructors sought for pilot project

Mobile learner Lizzie TREES smallA pilot project for Alberta post-secondaries that replaces the need for physical computer labs with online labs is now serving over 800 students and is looking to take on more classes.

The Virtual Computing Lab was piloted at the University of Alberta in 2012 in one education and two economics courses. Today, it is being used for 11 courses, including engineering, renewable resources and computer science. For each of these classes, students require access to specialized software in order to do their lab assignments.

"€œPrior to providing the Virtual Computing Lab, most students in my courses spent long hours in, or waiting to use, the graduate computer lab,"€ says David Ryan, Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Alberta. "€œAs someone who teaches almost solely in the area of econometrics, a quantitative side of economics that makes extensive use of computing, I have come to greatly appreciate this service."€

This pilot is a cloud-based virtual lab that can be scaled up or down in response to demand. It does away with the need for rows of computer workstations that have to be separately maintained. At the same time, it gives students access from their personal computers to a virtual lab with the same software.

It was piloted in the province by the University of Alberta'€™s IT department and Cybera, Alberta'€™s publicly funded advanced technology agency. The goal is to reduce costs and better meet the needs of mobile learners.

The service is now looking to expand to other classes and institutions in Alberta in time for the winter 2014 semester.

More information about the pilot is available here.

To find out more about the program and the software it supports, please contact:

David Chan
Project Manager, Cybera
(403) 210-5332