- The University of Maryland University College, the largest online public university in the United States, has found a solution to the challenge of providing near-ubiquitous access to coursework and embedded digital resources to students who are geographically dispersed, use different types of computer platforms, and don’t have access to campus computer labs.
- While first seeking the solution among virtual desktop interfaces, these required multiple passwords, did not allow students to have access to resources or work after a course has ended, and created issues with the need to install software on local computers — an impossibility for students using library or other community computers.
- The university had better luck looking at options designed for a workplace environment and now integrates Amazon Workspaces into the student learning environment to help create an academic online environment that is more reliable, scalable and student-friendly.
The increase in online education for institutions of higher learning has created greater opportunities for students seeking degrees while maintaining a work/life balance. However, multiple computer operating systems, platforms and computer specifications can create new challenges to universities as to how to present the coursework needed in an equitable and user-friendly fashion.
Colleges and universities are seeking low-cost solutions to this issue through multiple means. Some are incorporating campus apps to aid in effective communication. Other institutions are solving the problem by providing compatible computers to students as part of the school tuition. Some of these computers are preloaded with software needed to complete the student’s course of instruction. These solutions may solve most problems for now, but as educational technology is constantly changing, the solutions to the new problems created may need to change as well.