The National Convergence Technology Center’s (CTC) recently hosted a “Brown Bag” webinar on the topic of virtual labs. The presenter was Bill Saichek, an experienced IT curriculum developer, and instructor who’s worked closely with NDG for over ten years installing virtual lab infrastructure and authoring curriculum. Bill presented an overview of NDG’s NetLab virtual lab system – a remote access solution that lets students complete labs anytime and anywhere, including a look at the value of creating custom labs and pods.
First launched in 2020, the Brown Bag series offers special topic presentations via bite-sized, 30-minute segments on both technical and employability topics. To date, these webinars have been attended “live” by over 400 people with another 1000 views of the recordings on YouTube.
Next up, on Wednesday December 7 (12:30pm Central), will be a Brown Bag presentation on Jupyter Notebook. Register to attend here.
Below are some highlights of Bill’s virtual lab talk. Click here to view the entire presentation.
For additional information on virtual labs, watch our 13-minute “Virtual Labs 101” webinar from last fall.
* The “beauty of NetLab” is that instructors can provide very, very complex detailed labs without asking students come to campus and work in the brick and mortar labs. Many schools also use NetLabs in the classroom – that is, having NetLab doesn’t preclude you from running on-campus labs.
* Once you’re in the NetLab infrastructure, you’re in a completely sandboxed environment. There is no direct internet access by any of the pods, which means your students can do “all kinds of really cool things.”
* You need one server that’s called the “management server” that hosts the VMware vCenter and vSphere environment and maintains the NetLab environment itself. You also need one or more “host servers” that actually host the NetLab pods. Minimum memory required on a host server is about 256 gigabytes, which will allow you to support a large number of simultaneous active pods.
* Most of the content that programs would be using can be supplied by NDG. The exceptions are certain vendor-specific content, like Palo Alto, Cisco, and Microsoft. Those vendors require that you be a member of their Academy in order to have access to the content.
* NDG offers web-based design tools that supports the creation of custom content. “Pod Designer” helps create custom pods and “Lab Designer” helps create custom lab exercises.
* Once you develop a custom lab, that material is easily shareable and exportable.