August 7, 2020 | Data, LabMaps, Remote Access

Getting Computer Labs Right Before Returning to Campus

Whether you’re planning to return to in-person instruction, extend remote classes or utilize a hybrid model, computer monitoring should be part of your return-to-campus plan.

4 min

Everyone’s talking about return-to-campus plans, but once you have one, how do you know if it’s effective?

How do you know if students are actually using your socially distanced labs? With plexiglass dividers, sanitizing stations, directional signage, and any number of creative solution price tags, can you afford not to?

With LabStats’ usage data, you can see when, where, and how long students are using computers on campus—whether they’re accessing them in person or remotely. Plus, you can compare remote and in-person usage, so you’re ready to adapt your plan throughout the semester according to actual demand.

What’s the key to getting actionable usage data in LabStats?

Getting groups right before students return to campus. “Groups” in LabStats are groups of machines, usually organized by physical location.

How to Set Up Groups 

Each station in LabStats should be organized into a group. Groups are usually set up to reflect physical spaces, like computer labs and classrooms, and allow you to run reports based on location.

You can nest groups by building names (and campus names if you have multiple campuses), which helps you stay organized and compare usage data across those larger categories.

Example of group hierarchy by location

Most organizations set up groups during the initial install of LabStats, but it’s a good idea to go back and ensure all of your groups represent physical locations and fit into the correct hierarchy.

Related: How to Set Up Groups and Stations

Groups with Remote Stations

Remote stations may fit nicely into one room, or they might be mixed into different physical locations. To support physical distancing requirements, some schools are converting every other computer in a room to be “remote use only” by utilizing lock screens and screensavers

Whether your remote access computers are in a single location or dispersed throughout campus, it’s important to create the right groups in LabStats so you can track their usage over time. For remote labs, simply add “Remote” to the name of the group. 

For each dual-purpose lab, create two new groups—one for remote stations and one for in-person stations. These new groups should be created under a parent group that holds all the machines in one location (whether remote or not) so you have the ability to compare overall usage over time.

Example of Groups in LabStats

For step-by-step instructions on optimizing groups for remote access and dual-purpose computer labs, check out How to Reconfigure Labs for Social Distancing.

Groups in the Remote Access Dashboard

If you’re using LabStats’ Remote Access Dashboard, separate groups for remote machines are essential. 

The dashboard displays a list of computers that are available for students to remote into and acts as a central access point for them to connect. 

LabStats Remote Access Dashboard

Developed in response to widespread campus closures and the need for a quick remote solution, the Remote Access Dashboard has become an essential return-to-campus tool. 

The dashboard enables students to stay connected to powerful computers and specialty software whether they’re on campus, taking hybrid classes or using a personal laptop. It’s a flexible solution, so even if restrictions arise mid-semester, students can still access the software and computers they need. 

Groups show up in the Remote Access Dashboard on the left column under “Computer Labs” and allow students to navigate to the computer they need in a familiar way. You can control which groups and computers are displayed on the Remote Access Dashboard.

Show or hide computers

If you need to change which computers show up within a specific group, you can make that change directly in the LabStats Portal. The dashboard will display computers that are assigned to the group, so if you want to change what appears, you can add or remove them from the group. Consider creating a temporary “holding group” if you don’t want the change to be permanent.

Show or hide groups

If you’d like to add or remove groups to change which computer labs appear on your dashboard, you can manage that directly in the LabStats Portal.

Whether there’s a student sitting at each station or accessing machines remotely, LabStats monitors usage the same way. 

Groups in LabMaps

Social distancing requirements may make it difficult for students to find available computers on campus. Computers may be in a different location to accommodate new traffic patterns or adequate space between machines, or there might just be less available for them to use in-person.

LabMaps are a great way to help direct students to available computers on campus. Simple, custom maps with dynamic icons show students where to find an available computer in real-time.

LabMap with Remote Access Computers

You can also use maps to indicate where remote access machines are located inside dual-purpose computer labs. 

The machines that display in LabMaps must be organized in your LabStats groups in order to show real-time availability to students.

Returning to Campus

Making the quick move to remote learning this spring wasn’t easy, and returning to campus will bring a whole new level of challenges. 

So whether you’re continuing remote learning, returning to campus, or engaging in hybrid models, it’s important to get groups right. 

Our team is here to help you find a solution that’s right for you, so schedule a walkthrough or a tutorial with your account manager to get started.