Empower Your Faculty and Students with Education Solutions on IBM Cloud

5 min read

Choose the right environment for compelling, online learning.

With the pandemic, online learning arrived en masse and it’s only going to grow. The rush to online learning showed — painfully. Everyone now expects more. Your college, university or corporation should be ready to fully empower faculty and students with advanced and engaging cloud-based computing solutions. Delivering that superior experience is not just a matter of curriculum — it also requires a superior platform and a staff that is fully trained in how to create and support that experience.

To help you fulfill this need, IBM Cloud for Education brings you a deep portfolio of solutions delivered via IBM Cloud, targeted at supporting academic computing, classroom instruction and student and faculty learning needs. Your educational institution or organization can capitalize on these offerings, in your own environment, customized to be delivered the way you want.

A crucial step to gaining greater power and flexibility is to move to the cloud. To fully support students, administration, research and faculty, you can use IBM Cloud — a public, multi-tenanted and shared pool of computing resources. The courses offer capabilities to customize the user experience and give you the ability to integrate with on-premises environments so that users can access the courses from almost any location, at any time, with a wide variety of devices.

A few more IBM Cloud for Education capabilities

  • IBM Cloud for Education can provide course credit for virtual instructional-led labs with a validity period of one year, provided the service is integrated with your institution’s own LDAP or directory server.
  • Reservations can be made and pre-provisioned based on specific capacity requirements for running a class and how many students have signed up for the session.
  • You have the ability to consume additional storage resources using Persistent Storage service acquisition.
  • Access management for administrators, instructors and students.
  • Start at no cost. You can select from a range of plans — starting with a free evaluation plan — based on your requirements and concurrent user capacity.

Top-of-class benefits

We could write a whole thesis on what your institution would gain by relying on IBM Cloud for Education, but we’ll introduce just a few thoughts here. You gain both the power and flexibility of moving from an on-premises computing infrastructure to one that includes cloud, which means that you can do the following:

  • Provide anytime, anywhere access to high-end software and custom education environments. 
  • Give students access to personalized virtual machines (VM) for added privacy and security. Blockchain instances may be provisioned on a Red Hat® OpenShift® cluster in the background, each in its own namespace. This enables complete isolation in the workshop environment for each student.
  • Scale your IT resources based on fluctuations in student enrollment — such as scaling up a wildly popular course or scaling down an out-of-fashion course. The delivery platform is elastic, multi-tenant and uses the shared resource pool of IBM Cloud for Education to help conserve your budget.
  • Control your expenses by keeping them predictable, depending on the number of students or researchers using resources.
  • Retain and reuse your existing IT investments — manage both on-prem and cloud resources from a single screen. 
  • Offload the hassle of IT. Students can focus on learning, academic researchers can focus on new research and inventions and IBM will focus on providing the best hosting environment.
  • Customize your learning environment. This is your school — so the look and feel will be determined by you, not IBM. We stay “under the hood” while you create your own baseline virtual machine images with your own licensed/entitled software and engineer your own customizations.

We’ll handle the system architecture

The most efficient way to host your campus computers is not to have them there. We can virtualize your campus computer labs to support distance learning with IBM Cloud for Education Applications Lab — built on robust IBM Cloud Bare Metal Servers. It is a fully managed service, which can save you all the hassle.

We host the virtual machines (VMs) and infrastructure needed for classes, labs and projects at your academic institution. We provide the management controls for setting up the class environment by administrators and instructors, which provides granular controls to minimize costs through the precise allocation of resources during and after the class. Your students can be given access to the specific VM for the completion of their tasks, based on a schedule and reserving time on the system. Both students and faculty can access their VMs through standard protocols, including SSH and RDP. This architecture supports TLS 1.2 and federation of access management to external academic institutions and is based on the Open Source Apache Virtual Computing Lab (VCL) project.

For added power and flexibility, a notable capability of this architecture enables a client-hosted image application to compose and consume any cloud services from the IBM Cloud catalog, such as Identity and Access Management (IAM), IBM Cloud Block Storage, IBM Cloud Object Storage and more.

The Cloud for Education Applications Lab provides capabilities to federate login IDs to your school for centralized management of student access. This is recommended for classes, workshops and labs that are held by any school or organization on a regular basis:

IBM Cloud for Education infrastructure capabilities.

IBM Cloud for Education infrastructure capabilities.

Rely on blockchain to help protect digital assets

Many of your faculty and students (and anyone conducting research) will want to be confident in the security of the system storage. To provide even greater security to your digital assets, you can rely on IBM Blockchain for Education.

To deliver the blockchain class and run the workshop on the IBM Cloud, an image is created with all the necessary tools required for the class, including Visual Studio Code, the IBM Blockchain plugin and Command Line utilities. This image is available to students and instructors, 24/7. The professor and the TA can then reserve for the number of students enrolled.

The blockchain instances are provisioned on a Red Hat OpenShift cluster in the background, each in its own namespace. This enables complete isolation in the workshop environment for each student. For data storage, an IBM Cloud Object Storage instance is provided for the class — again, with each student having her or his own bucket in isolation for privacy. Each student is given access to their instance and the instructor(s) given access to the complete cluster for visibility into each student’s work. IBM mentors are on standby to help with any technical or non-technical issues during the class during the course.

Having all these tools in hand, the instructors and students were ready to focus on learning the technology, rather than having to set up environments and wasting precious class time:

Every student has an individual instance and storage for added privacy and security.

Every student has an individual instance and storage for added privacy and security.

As with all IBM Cloud solutions, you get tremendous flexibility. This educational solution can scale elastically, depending on the number of students, and the solution can be applied to any other class scenarios as well. Your education solutions can be enriched by integrating any of the IBM Cloud catalog of services — now up to 177 and growing — so you can deliver what your students and staff want. Custom images may be created for solutions not available on the IBM Cloud, and you may provide licenses of your own.

Why have IBM support your cloud?

IBM Cloud for Education provides a complete solution to run your class on the IBM Cloud. You can fine-tune and schedule the student and instructor virtual machines required for the class and integrate with any of the advanced capabilities — including IBM Blockchain, Watson Services and Internet of Things (IoT) — in a single, easy-to-access environment that can federate the same student logins that the university and academic institutes use. Click here and see if IBM Cloud for Education is the right solution for your institute.

Learn more

  • Free trial: Take the scientific approach. When you get started with IBM Cloud for Education, there’s a free trial plan so you can experiment with the IBM Cloud for Education Applications Lab. Try it now.
  • Get started with the IBM Blockchain for Education user guide.

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