Photos via Wayne State and Shutterstock
Photos via Wayne State and Shutterstock

New technology will help students work from home and avoid crowds on campus.

DETROIT, MI — Wayne State University administrators say they plan to offer in-person instruction in the fall, but some students say they would rather find other solutions than risk exposure to the coronavirus campus.

“Given that we’re still in the midst of COVID-19, I’d prefer to use the Chromebook from the comfort of my own home,” Jessica Taylor, a junior broadcast journalism student from Southfield told The ’Gander.

The university’s College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts (CFPCA) is increasing its computing power tenfold to prepare students for possible work-from-home scenarios in the fall. 

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The CFPCA’s on-campus tech labs have 300 computers for filmmakers, broadcasters, and artists of the future to create and refine their work. But the thousands of students who need computer access may not have it during the pandemic. 

WSU has not released a concrete plan for fall instruction yet but has indicated that classroom sizes will be dramatically reduced. But a new partnership with a California-based tech company could eliminate the need for in-person classes.

Splashtop is a software service provider that connects remote workers to their in-office machines. Unlike technology that came before it like virtual private networks (VPN) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), Splashtop can handle the large volume of users and work that WSU’s students will need.

Sophisticated software like Apple’s Logic Pro X and Vectorworks, an architectural design program, are expensive and take up considerable space on students’ hard drives. The new remote options will allow students to save money on such costly licenses and work from home. 

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“I think Wayne providing these essential tools is exactly what we need at the moment,” Taylor said. “The truth is not every student has access to computers that have programs like Avid and Adobe which are required for many media-related courses.”

A lot of educational institutions sought out Splashtop’s services amid the pandemic, said Nityasha Wadalkar, product marketing manager for the tech brand.

“These are not professions that are usually done remotely, so everyone was scrambling to find the best solution,” she told The ’Gander.

WSU’s CFPCA IT department decided to partner with Splashtop because of an existing relationship.

“I contacted Splashtop and asked if they had anything that could work,” said Chris Gilbert, application technical analyst at WSU. 

Gilbert says that his department was having trouble finding an adequate solution for both students and faculty that could accommodate a large number of users at once. Nothing he and the team tried seemed to work until he remembered past work he’d done with the California company.

“The [WSU] students are Warriors and if the CFPCA System Support office didn’t act like Warriors [too] and come up with a creative technical solution, then we are not giving the students our best,” he said.

WSU’s tech department has deployed 64 computers to students since the spring semester. It expects to have 3,500 CFPCA students connected by the fall.

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