What is CrownLabs?
CrownLabs is a set of services that can deliver remote computing labs through a per-user virtual machine.
Instructors can provision a set of virtual machines, properly equipped with the software required for a given lab (e.g., compilers, simulation software, etc).
Each student can connect to its own set of (remote) private environments without requiring any additional software, just a simple Web browser. No space problems on the student hard disk, no troubles in setting up the environment required to support multiple subjects on the same machine, and more.
In addition, each student can share his remote desktop with his groupmates, enabling multiple students to complete their labs in a team.
Finally, CrownLabs supports also instructors, who can connect to the remote desktop of the student and play directly with his environment, e.g., in case some help is required.
Students have full control of the lifecycle of their remote desktops (e.g., create, rebuild, destroy), enabling to re-create a clean environment when needed.
In addition, a persistent disk is dynamically mounted which allows student to save their data, even across reboots. Shared folders can be created involving students and instructors. Industry standards (web interface, WebDAV) are available to get access to the persistent disk.
Access is secured and communication is protected through encrypted sessions.
For more information, you can watch our videos, available on Youtube:
- Introduction to CrownLabs: short video to present the motivations behind CrownLabs and the main characteristics of the system.
- Getting Started with CrownLabs: hands-on video oriented to students, showing how to use CrownLabs.
Is CrownLabs just a Remote Desktop?
Well, in principle CrownLabs provides a Remote Desktop.
However, CrownLabs has been created with teaching purposes in mind. If you look at all the features of CrownLabs, you can easily spot the differences:
- support for group work;
- support for multiple people (students, instructors) interacting at the same time;
- support for multiple environment, each one targeting a given lab (e.g., programming is different from networking);
- can restore a clean environment whenever needed.
If you are just curious, ask for an evaluation account and try yourself!