Software Access – here, there and remote

10 September 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, ITS has been working hard to make our learning and teaching spaces as safe as we can, and to ensure that students have access to software even when they can’t visit physical computer labs. 

Safety Plans for Computer Labs 

This summer, ITS made the following changes to computing labs:

  • Rearranged public and departmental computer labs and classrooms for safe spacing
  • Reduced the number of public lab computers to allow for safe spacing
  • Partnered with Campus Operations Team and Custodial Services to develop a cleaning schedule and provide sanitizing supplies
  • Maintain exit pathways and wheelchair access

Software Access by the “RemoteLab” 

Reducing the number of computers helps with physical distancing, but doesn’t address the need for access to specialized software.  We have, therefore, created a “remote lab” environment, allowing students to use their personal computer to control a Carleton-owned computer that has the needed software. While this won’t work for every program, it greatly expands the number of specialized applications students, especially those who are off-campus, have access to. We have also expanded our list of software titles that students can install on their personal computers.

Software Access on Student Computers 

Having a computer that is up to the task, with all the right software, is more important than ever.

Carleton has been awarded a $249K GEER grant from the State of Minnesota to help us meet that challenge. The funds from the grant will provide laptops and software licenses for students who need them. Of particular note:

  • A Matlab site license grants access to more than 80 tools and gives everyone the option to use the suite for research. Students may install the software on their personal computers.
  • We are purchasing 300 student licenses of Adobe Creative Cloud, and plan to distribute them for use in specific classes, research projects, and student work.

Silver Linings 

Although the thinning of public labs removed dozens of computers, they will not be sitting on a shelf. Many of them will be placed in campus offices for staff in the “Group 2” cohort, who will work both on-campus and at home; others will be added to practice rooms for remote music lessons.