It’s no secret that the Millennial Generation has had a significant impact on businesses as this is the first generation of consumers, workers and students who have been strongly influenced by technology.
What’s becoming evident, however, is that the children of the Millennials, who have grown up with digital technology, will be the ones to shake up traditional approaches to communication, particularly in the education system. These digital natives, known as Generation Z, enter our schools and colleges with a digital outlook on life that educational institutions need to respond to and harness in the way they learn and are taught. Unfortunately many educational organisations are struggling to keep up with constantly changing technology trends and the growing expectations of this digitally savvy generation.
A recent study into the attitudes of this new generation revealed that students are more willing to learn online and view the future of education as more virtual and social media driven. When asked what they saw coming next in education, 39% of students said that it would be more virtual and 19% said that they’ll be using social media to engage in the classroom.
The challenge the education sector now faces is finding a cost effective way to make technology an integrated and innovative part of the school day, making teaching and learning both flexible and affordable. The approach to technology in education needs to encourage wider access to computing to offer a more student centric way of teaching. There are several advantages to be gained from integrating IT into the classroom - from building the technological skill set that students will need later in life to enabling teachers to be more inventive with their lessons and the ways they engage with students. A further advantage is that the data generated through various online activities can enable education curricula to be tailored to a student’s learning abilities and better track and manage students’ progress.
For many schools there is the concern that implementing, and then maintaining, an IT infrastructure is out of their financial reach. Traditional PCs and IT management tools have proven to be expensive and difficult to manage and deploy, resulting in constant expenditure on hardware and maintenance. However there is an alternative, called session virtualisation, which is a type of desktop virtualisation and requires much lower investment in IT hardware, deployment and management than traditional PCs.
Session virtualisation technologies such as NComputing vSpace, for instance, allow organisations to run a standard version of an operating system which can be accessed by multiple users through a central server. A standardised desktop and a series of applications can also be applied across different departments of the educational institution, offering manageable and affordable solution which is simple to use and delivers great performance. It allows IT staff to remotely upgrade and manage thin client devices from a single interface, reducing maintenance costs by up to 75% and allowing IT to focus on developing more interesting curricula.
Virtualising digital classroom infrastructure also makes the school or college more adaptable to Millennial students who are likely to bring their own devices (BYOD) into the classroom. A BYOD strategy can take e-learning outside of the classroom or campus environment, through using digital tools such as chat and Web-enhanced lectures.
The education sector is already exploring how it can use desktop virtualisation to centralise e-learning systems management, making digital classrooms affordable and therefore feasible for educational organisations of all sizes worldwide.
An increasing number of educational institutions worldwide and in Europe are embracing desktop virtualisation to provide more students with access to eLearning. In Britain, Colyton Primary School in East Devon managed to widen access to eLearning and cut its IT costs by half through implementing thin client solutions from NComputing instead of traditional PCs. Similarly, Barrow-in-Furness Sixth Form College also replaced over 200 desktop computers located throughout its campus with virtual desktop solutions, with the aim of replacing every PC on campus with NComputing thin clients by 2016. Camden School for Girls in North London deployment of thin clients has enabled the school to reduce capital costs by 75%, whilst lowering energy use and maintenance spending.
As technology continues to advance, the ability to provide more collaborative, inclusive and effective education becomes both increasingly important and creates great opportunities for educators and technology suppliers to improve the quality of education. Through solutions such as desktop virtualisation, educational institutions can ensure technology plays a key role in enabling eLearning for the new Millennial generation.
By Jochen Polster, VP Marketing EMEA, NComputing.