January 20, 2021 | Remote Access, Students

Can You Run Adobe on a Chromebook?

Chromebooks and laptops were distributed to students who needed hardware to go remote, but can they run the software students really need?

3 min

Can I run Adobe on a Chromebook? Can I run CAD on my laptop? Can I run SPSS on my home computer?

These are the questions college and university students are asking as they settle into long term remote and hybrid programs. Whether students purchased a laptop when their campus closed or transitioned to a BYOD (bring your own device) model in 2020, or they received a loaner Chromebook to get through an unpredictable year, they may be running into issues with software compatibility. 

Before the pandemic, students were able to rely on campus computer labs to pursue majors that require high performance computing like animation, industrial design, engineering, film, material sciences and aeronautics. In spring 2020, a few software providers made student licenses available at no cost for a limited time. Adobe’s free student licenses expired July 6th and schools were left with few affordable options. 

Mismatch of Power

Many schools were driven to purchase duplicate licenses, so students could access software both on campus and at home. Thes individual software licenses are expensive and often come with limitations. Even if schools did provide a license for every student, each student needed equipment robust enough to run and manage that software package. 

For example, can students run the full Adobe Creative Cloud on a Chromebook? 

Although there are light versions of Adobe apps that are optimized for Chromebooks, students relying on them can’t access the full suite of tools. Adobe Creative Cloud requires much more power than a Chromebook or base level laptop can provide.

The same goes for GPU-heavy programs like CAD, SPSS, Mathematica, Final Cut Pro and more.

Software Virtualization

Some colleges and universities have transitioned to remote learning models and virtualizing software to provide remote access to students. A lot of software packages can be virtualized, but it’s expensive. 

More powerful software programs cannot be virtualized, including animation software, CAD, statistical analysis software, Adobe Creative Cloud, engineering programs and more. For the programs that can’t be virtualized, schools still need to provide access to more robust workstations on campus, or provide each student with an individual license. For many of these programs, individual licenses are cost-prohibitive.

Related: Created in Response to COVID-19, Essential for Fall

Flexible Solution

Instead of investing in more powerful loaner laptops or relying on virtualization, you can provide access to the campus hardware that your school has already purchased.

With the LabStats Remote Access Dashboard, students can use base level laptops, Chromebooks or home computers to securely remote into campus workstations, and access the software they need.

“MATC (Milwaukee) is using LabStats Remote Access Dashboard, enabling students with any browser-capable device to remotely connect to a campus-based workstation. GPU intensive applications, as reported to me, work well as the intensive work remains on the high-end workstations in our computer labs.

Our institution distributed 1,300 Chromebooks (to students in need) already and another 1,500 are planned. Although we continue exploring creative ways to get workstations in the hands of students, Labstats Remote Access Dashboard enables very simple devices to access higher end software. What appeals to me about this strategy is that we continue to make use of the thousands of workstations in our district, and the Chromebooks distributed, while remaining flexible concerning Fall planning.”

Thomas Hausmann
Associate Vice President & Chief Information Officer
Milwaukee Area Technical College

Over 400 colleges and universities worldwide are providing students with remote access to university software via LabStats’ Remote Access Dashboard. For schools that already use LabStats computer lab monitoring software, the dashboard is available at no additional cost. You can make any computer with the LabStats client installed available for students to remote into immediately. If you don’t have LabStats yet, you can keep students connected to campus resources without breaking your budget. LabStats is just $8 per license annually (see full pricing details). 

Return to Campus Plans and Sustainable Solutions

When the pandemic hit, the pivot from on-campus activity to remote learning models was a substantial project, but it was straightforward. All IT teams were focused on diverting resources away from campus.

Returning to campus or building sustainable hybrid or remote solutions, however, are much more complex.

Higher education organizations are fine-tuning plans for long-term hybrid classes, phased returns to campus, and facing the possibility of future campus closures. What’s important now is a flexible solution that keeps students connected to campus resources, whether they’re on campus or not.

We’re committed to supporting you as you build a solution that works for your students and your budget. Schedule a walkthrough, or if you already have LabStats on your campus, schedule a tutorial for help setting up the Remote Access Dashboard.

Related: Will the Remote Access Dashboard Work for You?