Operation "Modernization": how to improve the learning process in a university using monoblocks?

    Do you remember your first computer class? Let’s try to guess: it was almost certainly a rather cramped room with a dense pile of desks in the middle and huge CRT monitors and massive “sistemniks” placed on tables along three walls. And, of course, the teacher, who first with a strict look explains a new topic at the blackboard, then gives the command “by car!” And then until the end of the lesson runs from one student to another, taking away a mouse from each student for explanation.

    Unfortunately, the approach to teaching in computer classes has not changed much since then. But there are positive examples, and today we will talk about one of these. It is especially encouraging that the experience is Russian.



    Everything happened at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation. This is a large university with a rich history, originating in the distant 1919. Until recently, computer classes here were exactly the same as described at the very beginning of the material. Well, unless corrected for the fact that CRT monitors have long been decommissioned and replaced with liquid crystal ones. However, in 2012, the total number of students of an educational institution increased radically due to the accession of a number of other large universities. The numbers are serious: there were 18 thousand, and it became 90.

    If we talk only about the Moscow campuses of the Financial University, today the realities are as follows: 2080 computers in 80 computer classes.



    Problem
    Before the reorganization, the effectiveness of computer audiences was low. The fact is that in one class it was impossible to place more than 11-13 cars, since the seating standards regulate the necessary amount of free space per student. It is easy to guess that desktop computers have greatly limited this space.

    As a result, this arrangement required twice as many teachers as lectures in other disciplines. In addition, the teachers themselves spent most of the lesson running around between students' computers. One could only explain something to everyone separately, or demonstrate the desktop of the teacher’s machine using a projector and a screen.

    Decision
    In 2013, the Financial University launched a program to modernize computer classes. And for this we developed a comprehensive solution, and did not go through a simple "iron" upgrade.

    All old “monitor + desktop” kits with the worked out resource were decommissioned, and relatively new machines were transferred to the administrative departments of the university. They should be replaced by monoblocks that meet a number of basic requirements: affordable price, high reliability, screen size of 21 inches or more, a processor with a margin of productivity for 3-5 years, good after-sales support and the absence of unnecessary built-in components that will not be used but at the same time will affect the final cost.



    Computers of two brands, HP and Lenovo, met these criteria. As a result of the tender, Financial University purchased 350 Lenovo C440 monoblocks equipped with Intel Core i5 3330S processors, 4 GB RAM, 1 TB hard disk and a 21.5-inch screen. Thus, if earlier in one class 11-13 desktops with monitors were placed, now exactly 26 Lenovo C330 are freely placed in the audience: 25 machines for students and one for the teacher. Plus, students do not need to sit around the classroom: they sit facing the board directly at the computers, as in a regular classroom.



    Also, LiteManager 4.5 was installed on all machines, which allows the teacher to remotely control students' monoblocks, see their desktops, synchronize the clipboard, etc.



    results
    The results were not long in coming. First of all, the load on teachers has been significantly reduced: exactly two times. Of course, some of them met with hostility modernization. Largely due to the fact that it was necessary to master new software for remote computer management. However, in the end, everyone understood that in this way the learning process is only simplified and saves a lot of extra time in class. The teachers got used quickly enough, and now none of them admits the idea that you can work the old way.



    In stationary computer classes, students are now sitting not on the perimeter of the audience, but facing the teacher. The latter is completely excluded from the class, because LiteManager features are enough for operational control over the assignment or just for ordinary help to an individual student. And, of course, the teacher can demonstrate on the projector screen not only his desktop, but also the screen of any student computer.



    Prospects
    At the moment, the approach has demonstrated its effectiveness. But Vladimir Solovyov, Director of the Financial University for Information Technologies, is well aware that over time the need for traditional computer classes will gradually disappear. Indeed, almost every student now has several computers, including mobile, and tablets, smartphones and laptops are becoming more accessible every year.

    Given this factor, the Financial University suggests that the future lies with VDI solutions, with which students can work with educational software configurations. The main thing is to give students using VDI technology access to university software from their personal devices. And, apparently, the process of mass implementation of such systems is just around the corner.


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