An Open Source Solution for Running PC Labs in Schools and Educational Institutions
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Subprojects: [ Vlizedlab Remote alias lab1 ] [ Vlizedlab External alias labx ]
VlizedLab is an open source solution for running and maintaining PC labs in schools and educational institutions. It's philosophy is simple: Only a very slim base system runs directly on the hardware of the PCs in the lab (we call them Vlizedlab Clients). This base system is capable of starting any kind of (virtual) PCs in a virtualization environment. Beside that, it copes with maintaining and distributing the virtual PCs, but nothing more. The virtual PCs can run just any operating system (WindowsX, any kind of Linux, ...) with about any software. These machines are "read only", such that any changes made by students are reset automatically after the lecture.
The "traditional" Vlizedlab works well for physical computer labs, where each student workplace is equipped with one computer that is connected to a central server. The "Vlizedlab" includes installation routines for installing the base system of the student workplace computers as well as fast and easy distribution mechanisms for the virtual teaching machines to the workplace computers. This enables an easy and unified workflow for teachers, reliable lectures for students and simple recovery in case of network and/or hardware problems.
With Corona came the necessity of teaching remotely. We satisfied this need with bringing the lab, that was so well-known to our students, home to to their "home office" desks. As we couldn't buy new hardware, we implemented and installed a Guacamole gateway to our lab. As a result our students can work in their well-know lab environment with only a web browser, making our lab independent of software installation on the student notebooks. And the workflow for the teachers stays the same: create virtual machines for the lectures, distribute them in the lab, teach.
Still, like in a physical lab, teachers can visit their students and help on their screens at any time with a simple click on their names. It turned out that this was a crucial feature to translate successful lab lectures to remote teaching.
See: Vlizedlab Remote
However we soon recognized, that the computing ressources of our lab were soon exhausted, because basically still only one group of students could work in one lab at the same time. We also recognized, that our students were mostly very well capable of installing Virtualbox and download and run our teaching machines. What was missing was the possibility to watch and help our students on their screens (as we would have done when teaching in the lab in physical presence) in their home offices. This we implemented and installed some software in the virtual teaching computers for the students to download and another Guacamole gateway. As a result teachers can view students working on their lectures at any time during the lecture with a web browser only and a simple click on the name of the student.
See: Vlizedlab Extern