Dynamically deliver hands-on, cloud-based software labs through the LMS


Blackboard Learn, when used with Virtual Training Labs powered by Skytap, enables hands-on software labs to be seamlessly associated with courses in the class catalog. This integrated solution delivers an on-demand learning management experience that scales to meet the growing needs of the modern education services business.

Challenges


In today’s economy, every company has a digital component to their business, and therefore depends on software applications to deliver better service to customers. Training the customers, partners, and employees who interact with the company through hands-on use of software increasingly comes into play. Training delivery groups are hindered by:

  • Unavailable lab resources and long wait times for software labs to become available after request
  • Limited support from IT groups and limited technical expertise for managing lab configurations
  • Increasing costs and dependencies of attempting to ship instructors and lab installations to remote facilities, or managing the sprawl of VMs and infrastructure of local learning installations
  • Inability to scale training enrollment to meet revenue and delivery goals
  • Difficulty supporting remote learners and accommodating busy work schedules

Solution


With Blackboard Learn and Virtual Training Labs in place, lab infrastructure can be provisioned dynamically in a global Skytap cloud data center upon request from the LMS. The completely automated process can happen 24/7 without human intervention. This solution enables improvement of all three modes of software learning.

For any software-backed lab: Even on-premises labs can eliminate the need to manually install and support software on a variety of student laptops or have IT resources configure systems in a datacenter. Cloud-based virtual training labs are automatically provisioned and perfectly configured, easily shared with a simple URL and secured from other students as needed every time.

For instructor-led training: Instructors can enable one-click lab creation upon enrollment and provisioning of exact copies of labs without IT or technical intervention, control access to those labs at a user or group level, and monitor and help students complete their work using an “over-the-shoulder” view of the active student screen or by reviewing or resetting a suspended lab.

For self-paced training: Students can easily self-enroll for classes through Blackboard LMS and schedule access to labs that launch whenever they are able to learn. Rules for automatically suspending labs that are not in use allows learners to pick up where they left off, while helping conserve capacity and better utilization of cloud resources.

Benefits


With Blackboard Learn and Virtual Training Labs, powered by Skytap, education professionals can attain new levels of productivity and control costs, while improving the quality of software training.

Reach more students
Infrastructure and classroom limitations are a thing of the past. Enrollment can grow quickly as the underlying virtual labs are dynamically provisioned, delivered with a simple and secure portal URL, and used anywhere that Internet access exists. With self-service enrollment capabilities, students only have to register and pay once.

Instructors and instructional designers benefit too. Virtual Training Labs deliver modern hands-on software training methods – self-paced, virtual instructor-led, and certification/practice labs. Instructors can create and provision fully configured student labs in minutes, which they link to courses. Teams handling back-end processes like registration, notification, billing, and assessment can say goodbye to the manual request and reconciliation efforts of yesterday — delivery is now fully automated.

Enhance the student experience
Beyond the ease of registration, student access to ready labs is fast and simple. Students can easily access labs from the browser, anywhere, anytime, without any additional installation or local software setup required. Over-the-shoulder views allow instructors to watch and assist students. In addition, labs can be suspended and resumed in their exact state at any time, so students can conduct self-paced training on their own schedule.

Control costs
Thanks to cloud-based virtual labs, there is no infrastructure to buy or maintain to grow training practices. Management and IT teams can maintain total visibility and control over resource utilization and quotas, which saves significant CAPEX and OPEX. Since costs are assessed on a pay-as-you-use basis, teams can set labs to automatically suspend or shut down due to inactivity or on a schedule which further optimizes cost.