Neil Kingham, an Information Technology teacher at Parkes TAFE College, has developed a virtual computer networking laboratory to provide his students with online access to high level computer networking equipment irrespective of where they are located.
The Information Technology students who benefit from this development already study online, and use web conferences and email to make weekly contact.
Neil Kingham completed an Australian Flexible Learning Framework funded course and has worked in partnership with VMWare to build the virtual network model that enables his students to complete practical units in their computer networking training.
Neil said, "With this model students don't need to purchase expensive computer hardware and software or travel distances to access equipment.
"They login via the Internet and download a "virtual" computer server which they can work on using their own PC without compromising any of the information on their own computer.
"As a business partner in the project, VMWare have been highly supportive. They have said this is the first project in the world to use their industry based software in an educational context like this.
"The model works well, the students learn hands-on, and if their practical work goes awry, they can re-download the image and start the task again and again, until they get it right.
"This is a huge saving of time and money for students and it reduces the need for travel to access high level skills and equipment. Economies are now achieved by using software to create virtual computers, which reduces the need for multiple pieces of separate computer hardware", Neil Kingham said.
TAFE Western Institute Relieving Director, Kate Baxter said, "It was for these reasons that the project was recognised with a TAFE Western Environmental Incentive Award in 2009."
VMWare, is a Silicon Valley based company with offices throughout the world. It provides solutions for business infrastructure virtualization to reduce capital and operating expenses, improve agility, ensure business continuity, strengthen security and go green.
Last December, Neil Kingham presented the Virtual IT Lab to the Australian Flexible Learning Framework e-Learning 09 Conference. A great deal of interest shown was in the advantages of using VMWare in an educational context.