Returning to University: How to maintain social distancing on campus and in labs
The Coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we know it. Lockdown led to widespread changes around the world, with all aspects of society having to adapt to a different way of living. The Higher Education sector is no different, with remote studying becoming the norm in an overnight change to universities around the world.
This change has led to many universities implementing temporary solutions to allow students to continue to access online lectures and university software remotely, instead of shutting down operations and service completely.
With uncertainty surrounding a full return to on-campus studying, many universities are now looking to more future and long-term solutions that will maintain social distancing while allowing for ease of access to software for students and providing continuity of education.
As the start of the new academic year approaches, Higher Education organizations must make a number of key considerations to ensure social distancing on campus whilst also making sure that all students have access to everything they need and with minimal impact on the student experience.
Organizations are faced with a number of challenges for the year ahead:
Students postponing places
With uncertainty surrounding whether or not universities will be teaching completely remotely for the year ahead, many young adults are considering postponing their university places as they feel they will not get the same level of student experience they are paying for.
This presents a number of problems including:
- Universities are unable to guarantee places in the next academic year
- Application backlogs lead to heightened demand on university access
- Increased competition for places
- Makes getting into first-choice universities much more difficult for potential students
These problems make the need for software and IT solutions that cater for both on and off-campus studying going forwards even more imperative. Universities must provide the same high-quality education that students would expect to receive when on campus, even if a hybrid way of working on and off-campus must be introduced for the next academic year.
Providing continuity of education on and off-campus
Whether they’re at home or on campus, students must feel comfortable with accessing the software apps they need and not feel short-changed by the level of education they receive from their university.
The responsibility for these changes lies with the universities themselves, who must ensure that students are fully equipped with everything they need to safely return to campus whilst maintaining social distancing.
If a return to campus is not possible, students must be able to access the university software and apps needed for their studies from their own homes and on their own personal devices.
Providing long-term IT solutions
IT solutions such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and AppsAnywhere allow remote learning and help to overcome the issues of apps that are restricted by the number of licenses, number of devices required, or access to campus labs in order to use a specific computer or specific apps.
It enables students to access the app they need for their course anywhere and on any personal device without having to physically install the software on their device. This means that working remotely can be achieved with minimal disruption and impact on the student experience.
Whilst many universities have implemented solutions to aid students with working remotely, many of them are not sustainable over the long-term so they must look to better solutions as an influx of new students arrives at the beginning of the academic year as well as existing students.
Over the next year, it looks likely that universities will have to prepare for a new hybrid way of studying with students both on and off-campus. Remote studying will become the norm in many cases but it’s important to introduce measures on campus to ensure the safety of students, in an IT lab or other areas that are not accessible remotely.
To comply with social distancing measures, campus IT labs and their access must change, with capacity reduced by half. This means that a lab that can currently facilitate around 40 students will drop to a capacity of 20. Therefore, it’s important to consider how students will be able to access the resources and software they require without access to a computer lab on campus, especially with the many courses that require specialist software.
BYOD can act as a bridge to link the on-campus experience that students have paid for with access to the software that replaces campus computer labs.
BYOD supports a range of devices including:
This allows university software and apps to be accessed from any device and operating system (such as a Windows computer or a Mac) and provides students with the ability to study away from campus labs where capacity may be an issue.
Solutions such as BYOD and AppsAnywhere help to maintain the student experience. If a student is on campus and cannot access a computer lab or must wait for a computer to become free, they are likely to be unsatisfied with the standard of education being provided.
Many universities already had BYOD policies in place, with students encouraged to bring their own devices into the university setting to provide them with the option to study remotely and access software without having to physically install programs on their own devices. However, for a huge number of universities, it is a newly introduced measure that has become more of a requirement and more commonplace as a result of Coronavirus.
The cost of solutions such as AppsAnywhere is minimal when compared to legacy programs and restrictions in place with certain apps currently used in the university setting. Limits per physical machine are also made redundant as AppsAnywhere allows access to applications from any device to any user, providing continuity of education for students wherever they are.
Many students already bring their own laptop, mobile phone or tablet into the lecture hall every day so, making the transition to accessing apps from these devices rather than a university computer lab should be relatively seamless.
Increased access to university apps and software
Before the Coronavirus pandemic and the switch to remote study, universities were limited to providing students with access to software and apps due to limits on the number of devices. A campus lab can only hold so many computers and students so, during busy periods around deadlines and exams, computer access may be difficult.
In addition, universities must buy software title licenses to cover each machine, which can be costly. AppsAnywhere allows universities to provide students with access to everything they need from anywhere, at any time.
AppsAnywhere can deliver every single app that is often limited to physical computers in a university setting, to practically any device, be it at home, local or web-based, at the click of a button.
Remove the need for physical presence on-campus
One of the key benefits of AppsAnywhere is the removal of the need for students to be physically present on campus or tied to campus computer labs in order to complete coursework or access the resources and software they need for their courses.
This is now even more important in the wake of Coronavirus and social distancing measures as computer labs are now able to house half the number of students as before. AppsAnywhere will be essential for providing students with the facilities they need to complete their course effectively and to provide the student experience they expect.
Convert lecture theatres to IT labs
With solutions such as BYOD and AppsAnywhere in place, lecture theatres could be converted to temporary IT labs as they provide a larger space than campus labs. This offers students the chance to work on their own personal devices but be in the same room as their lecturers and fellow students.
The benefits of AppsAnywhere as a long-term solution
As universities begin to look towards long-term solutions for offering a mix of on and off-campus studying opportunities, it’s important to take a look at the benefits of the solution and how it can solve the problems that many universities now face.
Range of devices
With so many students at each university, the range of devices on campus is likely to be extremely diverse. The AppsAnywhere software can be used across a range of devices which helps universities to ensure that as many students as possible have access to everything they need anytime and anywhere.
Allow students to work anywhere, anytime
Outside of the Coronavirus pandemic, many students prefer to be able to access the resources they need outside of campus opening hours and wherever they choose to study, whether that’s at home, at a local café or somewhere else on campus.
AppsAnywhere allows them to use their own devices on campus, at home or anywhere else they choose to study. This means that they are not tied to campus labs and can access the software they need at a time that’s convenient for them.
Providing students with this ability is a huge advantage for universities looking to make a switch to an on-campus/off-campus/hybrid way of working. It provides students with continuity of education when they’re studying off-campus and allows them to access everything they need as if they are on campus.
Supports BYOD policies
For those universities with BYOD policies already in place, AppsAnywhere provides an effective and easy-to-implement solution to being able to provide students with the access they need.
With students already used to using their own devices to access university resources, the launch of the AppsAnywhere portal across the university should be relatively straightforward.
Software Moving Forward
The hybrid model of on-campus and off-campus work is something that many universities will now have to consider and prepare for. Solutions such as AppsAnywhere allow this to happen without constraints, with access to applications and software virtualization, and therefore usable on any device with any popular browser, which offers students the best of both worlds.
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