Virtual Labs

One of the biggest accomplishments of the NISGTC grant was the creation of the virtual lab (VLab). VLab used advanced, innovative virtualization technology and teaching processes to allow students to gain industrial-level and real-world experience with advanced software, servers, and operating systems.

275 colleges and universities now access the 250 lab exercises with 45,970 student uses, of which the goal was only 2,000.

VLab provides a safe “sandbox” for students to schedule, configure and interact with virtual labs that relate to many of the technology classes being taught as these virtual machines can run on a 24/7 basis and students can access anywhere with an Internet connection. This type of access is not normally granted to a physical machine in a shared teaching lab on a permanent basis and can give students extra much-needed hands on experience for many IT courses.

All lab equipment and supporting devices are located safely behind the NETLAB+ appliance and are not directly exposed to school or public networks. Automation of common tasks frees the instructor to focus on teaching rather than setting up or repairing labs. VLab controls access to the labs through its scheduling tool, and its software will load lab configurations, provide instructions for doing labs, and prepare the equipment for the next reservation. Session sharing allows the instructor to share console access with students to provide help when needed or students to work together when doing projects.

Examples of classes that can use VLab include Cisco IT Essentials, all CCNA and CCNP courses, A+, Network+, Linux+, Security+, VMware's vSphere Install, Configure, Manage v5.5 (ICM), EMC's Information Storage and Management v2 (ISM), Ethical Hacking, Digital Forensics and more.

    Student Benefits:

  • Access labs anytime from anywhere
  • Increases the hours labs are available
  • Repeat labs until skills are mastered

    Instructor Benefits:

  • Access anytime from anywhere
  • Automates lab management and cleanup tasks
  • Manages configuration files
  • Shares sessions with students needing help, if desired
  • Increases the hours labs are available to students

How do virtual labs provide "real-world" experience?

In the workplace, most IT maintenance is performed across a company's network or the Internet. Employees rarely touch the actual hardware. Working with these virtual machines will give you the experience needed to be more comfortable when working in this type environment.

If I do not have a computer at home to access the virtual labs, will the college provide me one?

Unfortunately, the college is not able to provide personal computers for this use. Computers are available in the library, on-campus computer labs and in tutoring locations. Labs can also be accessed from any device that has a browser and from any location that has an Internet connection.

What else can the virtual lab do?

Virtual Computing, Teaching and Learning Laboratories offer “real-world” applications and provide:

  • Greater efficiency and effectiveness for students and professors as departments move courses to a virtual environment.
  • Remote access through an Internet connection to labs in various disciplines of Information Technology (IT).
  • An avenue to conduct experiments that will help students in learning basic and advanced concepts through remote experimentation.
  • An opportunity to share expensive equipment and resources, which are usually available to limited groups. This will help students and instructors with time management and geographical distances.

When do I have access to the virtual labs?

If a student is enrolled in a class that is a part of a Cybersecurity, Geospatial, Programing, and Networking and Data Communications degree/certification which utilizes the virtual labs, they will be given 24/7 access to the labs for the duration of the class term. Labs can be done at any pace and multiple times. Access is no longer available when the student has either completed the class or is no longer enrolled.

Does the virtual lab time out?

Yes, after one (1) hour of inactivity, the session will time out. A new schedule has to be created.

When trying to log in, I was told I needed java installed. Is there any way around this?

No, java is required for the application to run.

What ports do I have to have open in my firewall for MyVLab to work?

TCP 2201