AWS Public Sector Blog

How streaming applications and virtual desktops help schools bridge the gap

Moving to remote operations can be difficult in any industry, but especially in education where various stakeholders need to be prepared – from students, teachers, families, and administrators. Moving a highly structured, in-person environment to online is no simple task, so educational leaders across age and learner groups seek out best practices to support remote learning, teaching, and core operations.

In the event of environmental disruptions, K12 schools, colleges, and universities are using virtual desktops and applications as one solution to help minimize downtime and support staff and students from anywhere, anytime, on any device.

For students and faculty, this means there is no disruption in learning—the format switches to a distance learning model. For administration, this means supporting remote students and faculty and managing mission-critical work streams with a distributed workforce. For IT, this means addressing application and hardware requirements, securing policy and profile management with reliability.

Here are three examples of how the cloud can help education quickly scale to support disruptions.

Expanding access to labs through cloud-based solutions

While on-premises computer labs must close when a physical building closes, virtual labs can provide students with instant access to desktop applications streamed through an encrypted, secure browser—regardless of hardware or device. Virtual application streaming can be used for any type of curriculum, from college-level engineering to administrative apps in K12 classrooms. Learn how Cornell University reimagined course delivery with Amazon Workspaces.

Cloud-based solutions, like Amazon AppStream 2.0, run a school’s operating system and applications in the cloud in a scalable, managed environment—regardless of location. Virtual applications are built for the most security-sensitive organizations, as data is not stored on users’ computers.

Enabling administrators to access core applications via virtual desktop

Digital environments allow schools to provide administrators, faculty, and staff access to needed resources, while also complying with an organization’s security policies. Virtual desktops help eliminate the complexity in managing hardware inventory, operating system (OS) versions and patches, and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which helps IT simplify their desktop delivery strategy. See how the University of Maryland created a secure, stable, and modern technical environment for its 37,000 students and 9,000 faculty and staff.

Additionally, many institutions are looking for options that maintain mission-critical applications (payroll, employee records, and more) remotely and securely. Many organizations are looking to persistent desktops (like Amazon WorkSpaces) and application stream to fill this gap that traditional infrastructure has left behind.

Communicating effectively when it matters the most

Mass emails and texts have changed how schools announce major changes from snow days to burst pipes. However, some emergencies will cause schools to struggle to support inbound call volume from concerned students, parents, and others seeking information.

Virtual call center solutions can help expand your capacity while not requiring those answering phones to be physically on-campus. Amazon Connect creates flexibility that allows institutions to rapidly shift operations between buildings or even off campus in minutes. Whether it’s supporting student workers with  the help desk phone while they are off campus or administrators unable to physically be at their desk, these solutions can help provide your school options without extensive setup.

Learn more about AWS’s End User Computing (EUC) partners, who support institutions that need to provision, protect, and gain intelligence from end-point devices.