Remote Instructional Computer Facilities

February 18, 2021

About the Facilities

The Instructional Computer Facilities (ICF) service from ETS provides dedicated computer lab access to instructors for their classes that have specialized hardware or software needs.  During the shift to remote and virtual instruction, the service was able to pivot and offer scheduled instructors the option to connect to the phyical computers on campus remotely through the Citrix platform.  

During the Fall 2020 semester and again during this Spring 2021 semester, certain classes opted to make use of this service and host a portion of their students in the virtual lab environment.  This is useful for students with computing limitations as they are able to remotely connect via Citrix, safely from wherever they are, and access the same machines and software they would be using in the physical computer facility space.

Additional Options

Another option for remote computing facilities utilizes the AEoD platform.  This is an entirely virtual environment - virtual machines (VMs) are deployed, and students connect remotely to a VM, rather than to a phycial machine on campus.  This offers greater flexibility in terms of scheduling, and most software and computing needs can still be met. 

If you are an instructor and would like more information on either of the above remote ICF services, please submit a request from the ICF information page, and the ICF Service Lead will contact you.  

Feedback highlights from Fall 2020 users and current users of the service:

(45% survey response rate as of 2/17)

Overall, 100% of respondents would recommend this service to their colleagues:

pie chart of responses when asked if this service would be recommended to colleagues

General comments:

  • "Overall I am happy with the virtual system and specially with the staff who supports it." - Esayas Kelkile, Academic Department Support Staff (CBE)
  • "Everything worked fairly smoothly." - anonymous GSI
  • "The instruction slides are very helpful." - anonymous GSI
  • "Remote lab is quite helpful to our teaching." - anonymous GSI

Suggestions for improvement: 

  • Increase the "compatibility of different software versions and Operating Systems" and implement a "uniform programming platform like jupyterhub" - anonymous GSI