AWS Public Sector Blog

3 ways AppStream 2.0 transforms the CTE and STEM experience in schools

As the demand for workers in tech continues to grow, providing students with hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) experience is increasingly important. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that STEM jobs will grow 8% by 2029, twice the expected growth in the overall job market. In addition, the average salary for STEM jobs is over $100,000, a considerable advantage when compared to non-STEM jobs, which hover at an average of $55,260. Data like this illustrates that an investment in digital literacy for students is an investment in their career potential.

As the demand for STEM education grows, so does the need for student technology. In recent years, leaders in 90% of school districts have adopted one-to-one computing in their schools, meaning one device for every student, according to an EdWeek survey. While a large number of schools understandably opt for more affordable devices, many of the software programs that teachers and students use, like Adobe Creative Cloud and AutoCAD, require machines with higher computing power. For this reason, many schools rely on computer labs, which come with their own set of challenges. In order to stay current and function properly, lab computers must be replaced frequently. Plus, providing continual updates on these machines is labor-intensive and expensive. Time and resources spent on managing equipment can cut down on time and resources for learning. Meanwhile, many students lack a sufficient personal computer at home.

How can schools make sure students have equitable access to the real-world technology they need? The answer is Amazon AppStream 2.0, an application streaming service from Amazon Web Services (AWS) that lets users run any desktop application, on any computer, with the cloud. With access to high-powered programs and applications on any device connected to the internet, educators can provide career technical education (CTE) and STEM curricula to students anywhere, anytime.

Here are three ways that AppStream 2.0 improves the STEM classroom.

1. Run high-performance applications from any device

During the pandemic, schools made significant investments in creating one-to-one learning environments for students, with most districts opting for Chromebooks because of their affordability. AppStream 2.0 allows teachers and students to run high-performance applications on lower-performance devices like Chromebooks, effectively turning any internet-enabled device into a computer lab. For example, AppStream 2.0 supports the following software applications, many of which are required by STEM and CTE curricula, like Project Lead The Way (PLTW):

  • Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, InDesign, Audition, XD, After Effects, etc.)
  • Autodesk AutoCAD, Revit, and Inventor
  • ArcGIS Pro
  • And many others

Additionally, teachers, staff, and administrators who need access to payroll, finance, human resources (HR), and other legacy or Windows applications can access them from any device with AppStream 2.0.

2. Increase equity by taking learning outside the computer lab

In the past, the number of computers or computer labs available at any one time restricted the course offerings a school could provide. A student who might otherwise have taken a course in Adobe InDesign, for example, might be turned away because computer availability dictated course access. This also meant that younger students often received fewer options for computer-based classes to allow older students to take limited spots.

Now, with the ability to run compute-intensive applications on a wider variety of devices, more students can take CTE and STEM courses. They can also bring their learning home with them. Whether students have Chromebooks, iPads, or PCs, digital literacy education is no longer restricted to physical computer labs at school.

Access to technology increases equity in schools—so much so that the Department of Education made a historic $65 billion investment in digital literacy in 2022. By making everything students need available to them online, from any device, AppStream 2.0 helps support the DOE’s mission. Not all students have access to high-performance computers at home, and school-issued devices can sometimes fall short of student needs. AppStream 2.0 can support having every application available to every student.

3. Reduce the space and budget that computer labs require

The rapid obsolescence of technology equipment makes it expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating to keep computers and applications up-to-date. Additionally, the physical square footage that computer labs require puts a strain on school campuses struggling with space. At one school district in Virginia, over 4,000 students relocated to trailers due to overcrowding—a situation that is not uncommon. By reducing the need for computer labs and the continual updates they require, school districts can return classroom space to students. School leaders can also relocate the recovered budget to addressing other student needs.

AppStream 2.0 allows schools to keep applications and software updated in real-time with minimal work. In fact, an IT staffer can update an entire AppStream 2.0 environment once and push it out to all users, rather than update individual machines one by one. This makes it simple and affordable for students to learn using the most up-to-date technology, keeping pace with the workforce that awaits them when they leave school.

AppStream 2.0 gives students the digital access they need to succeed

Careers in tech offer students the opportunity to increase their earnings and contribute to the wellbeing of their communities—and AppStream 2.0 supports this vision for the future workforce by giving students the access they need today.

Visit AppStream 2.0 for education to learn more about how AppStream 2.0 can support your school or district.

Over 14,000 education institutions of all sizes—from primary and secondary schools through higher education—use AWS to provide flexible, affordable technology solutions that support their core mission and deliver on their most strategic institutional priorities. Learn more at AWS for Education.

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Kevin McCandless

Kevin McCandless

Kevin McCandless is a senior solutions architect on the AWS K12 Education team. For the past five years, Kevin has helped K12 organizations positively impact student success by using cloud technology to become more efficient, agile, and secure. He’s worked with school districts, private schools, charter schools, educational service agencies, state departments, and everything in between. Personally, Kevin loves volleyball, video games, Star Wars, and Taco Bell.