GSU goes virtual with new vLab program

Tandra Smith and Erin McGuiness

Georgia Southern University’s IT Services has begun a new virtual computer lab service named vLab, in which enrolled students will now have access to university-licensed software anywhere and anytime as long as they have an Internet connection.

The program was officially launched on March 22, but IT services has been experimenting with vLab since last fall. It has since then been through fine tuning, and will continue to grow over the summer months and into next fall.

“[VLab] was a collaboration between our student government, student technology fee committee representatives and our infrastructure group which is responsible for servers and information systems,” Steven Burrell, vice president of Information Technology, said. “This is something that we have been working on for more than a year and have been using components of it in different ways up until the cumulation of this rebranding and announcement of vLab for general student availability this past month.”

The program was largely funded by student technology fees. It was created to help overcome difficulties that individuals were having with ADP (Automatic Data Processing), ease the frustration many students had with having to go on campus to access certain programs and not being able to access programs due to their network issues.

“We needed something that was going to help address [those frustrations] from a student success standpoint so that students can have access to software titles and capabilities no matter where they are in the world,” Burrell said.

Included in vLab are many higher end programs such as Adobe Creative Cloud 2015, which has programs like After Effects and Photoshop, along with Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Office Suite 2013, equipped with programs like Word, Excel and Publisher and more.

“I think [vLab is] a really good opportunity for people for their major because it’s so much cheaper and I’m glad it won’t take up any space on my computer,” Kaylee Moody, freshman multimedia film production major, said.

“I think there can be benefits to a virtual world because if [students] work for a company that goes virtual someday, rather than a hard drive we will know how that system works,” David Solomon, senior mechanical engineering major, said.

Solomon added that he thinks we have an advantage over other students at universities and colleges who do not have access to virtual software.

“We’re in a constant improvement frame of mind. It’s good now but we’re always going to make it better. We’re always interested in feedback from students and faculty,” Paul Reaves, communications officer for IT Services, said. “Acceptance will continue to grow and we want to give student every opportunity to excel in the classroom and this is one of those steps.”

Students can contact the Center for Academic Technology Support (CATS) at 912-478-2287 or email [email protected] with any questions or concerns about accessing or using the virtual lab.

Photo courtesy of Kiara Griffin.