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Community Colleges Pilot Virtual Labs as a Service

student working on laptop

Three community colleges in California's Inland Empire/Desert region are rolling out virtual, cloud-based labs to give students any time, anywhere access to the computing tools they need to hone job-ready skills, all in one place. The pilot program is aligned with the goals and metrics of the Strong Workforce Program, an initiative out of the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office aimed at increasing enrollment and completion as well as exposing underserved students to career opportunities throughout the region.

The colleges partnered with Practice Labs to implement its virtual lab platform as a service. Rather than being constrained to a physical lab on campus or limited virtual lab appliance at their college, students will be able to access a virtual lab environment and gain hands-on experience with real-world tech tools from anywhere with an internet connection. The service includes 24/7 help desk support for both faculty and students.

The virtual labs will be used for courses in subjects such as information technology, cybersecurity, software development, business office technology and more. Planning, design, vendor selection and implementation for the project are being coordinated by SynED, a nonprofit organization focused on the development of "new models of curriculum, industry alliance, service and delivery." While the initial pilot is limited to three colleges, more colleges are expected to join in the coming year.

"Our region is committed to serving local business by preparing the 21st-century workforce needed to support economic growth," said Melody Graveen, dean of instruction, career and technical education at Moreno Valley College, in a statement. "We are excited to participate in regional projects of this type that are designed to support equitable access to high-quality educational pathways and resources for our students.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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