How to enable remote access to pc rooms?
What is the state of remote access in education?
COVID19 is hitting all industries globally, not in the least education. Depending on geography and what school system the impact can be very different. Some schools simply closed down, in other cases they focused on giving remote classes over Zoom or Teams calls, or yet other cases classes were still (in part) physical but with smaller groups of students. And then there is probably a mix of all scenarios.
The reality is that – like most industries – the education sector was not prepared for remote access scenarios like remote teaching (excluding a minority of online universities). That said: certain student groups (think minors) need a physical ‘school’ to attend classes. To develop their social skills, and not in the least because they can’t be alone at home all the time. And even in higher education, I’m personally not yet convinced that a full online or remote system can fully replace the physical experience. I can perfectly see hybrid scenarios. COVID19 is accelerating this new ‘hybrid’ equilibrium for online and remote learning with physical systems.
Which remote access scenarios are there?
Now let’s look at a reality in a lot of universities around the globe: they have large PC rooms, sometimes with thousands of computers, running specific software (statistics, etc). Software which often is just too expensive or difficult to provide in any other way to students. Due to Covid19, these classes are now closed or sometimes open at 50% capacity to guarantee social distancing.
This means a lot of students are not optimally equipped in their learning experience. Most students will have a personal computer, tablet or phone somewhere, but they just lack the specific required software and tools. For the school itself, there is a big investment in hardware and software which is useless… This is where Awingu can step-in and give students secure remote access to these class room computers.
In a previous blog post we describe how Awingu enables a very easy yet secure remote access to desktops in a company network. The same applies to computers in a school PC room.
In short: Awingu acts as an HTML5 gateway and translates the remote desktop into HTML5 and makes it available security to the outside world.
Why is Awingu the perfect remote access software for education?
Getting it up-and-running in no time
Getting the Awingu deployed is fast and easy. You can just install the virtual appliance in your existing network. No changes are needed on the desktops etc. You just keep operating these as before.
In the above high-level picture, we illustrate how the Awingu virtual appliance is set up in an existing network.
Awingu’s virtual Linux appliance is installed on one or more Virtual Machines (as guidance: up to 500 concurrent app/desktop sessions can run on 1 virtual machine with 8Gb Memory and 8vCPU)
Awingu is connected per RDP to each desktop (they must be powered on), and coupled to the AD. No installations are needed on the AD or desktops. It also means students can probably keep using their existing AD credentials.
Note: Awingu can also be connecting to RDS-based environments, to file shares and SaaS apps such as Office 365 and GSuite. In this blog post, we make an abstraction of this and focus solely on the remote desktop access.
Awingu is typically installed behind a firewall or proxy and only needs access via port 443.
Students that want to access remotely the computer class room to work with software or files can log in via their browser on their private device/home computer. A Windows laptop, an Apple Macbook, a Chromebook,… any device with a browser will work. They just fill in their username and password to get access to the workspace with its desktops, apps and files. It all depends on which usage rights you give the users. You can also enable the Awingu built-in MFA as a mandatory step!
Getting it up and running with minimum investments
To enable the above use case, the only thing you will need:
A virtual machine (at least one)
Main arguments for Awingu for education
Easy to use for all users (administrative people, teachers, students) so less support tickets
Easy to setup and control for the admins
Secure thanks to built-in capabilities:
No local data on the end-user device
Context-awareness: Users can only gain access if they are allowed by the admin
Audit logs in the dashboard for admins
Interested how this can work out for your school or university? You can see all about Awingu for education here!