Maine Township High SD Virtualizes Windows

Maine Township High School District in Chicago is using virtualization to give teachers access to a consistent desktop environment from any device.

The district has been using Google Apps for Education in the classroom for several years, and in the 2013-14 school year, it began issuing Chromebook devices to students as part of a 1-to-1 initiative. Students could use their Chromebooks to access e-textbooks, submit homework electronically using Google Docs and access other online educational resources from anywhere with an Internet connection. However, teachers still needed access to Windows desktops to run some Windows-based applications.

The district's IT staff spent three months collaborating with Google experts to create a cloud-based virtual desktop infrastructure. The district now uses Citrix XenDesktop and NetScaler to provide teachers with access to Windows desktops and applications from any device. The virtual desktop infrastructure has reduced the amount of time district IT staff spend supporting desktop machines. Instead, they can focus more time working directly with students and teachers to improve their computer skills, and teachers can access a consistent desktop environment regardless of which type of device or browser they are using.

"The new Citrix-enabled environment provides teachers with easy access," said Jonathan Urbanski, network manager for Maine Township, in a prepared statement. "Teachers need to be able to expect classroom technology to work just as easily as writing on a chalkboard does. By making the technology environment more reliable, we free up people to create and innovate."

According to information from Citrix, the combination of Citrix XenDesktop and NetScaler with Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education has created "a dramatically more efficient school day" for the district's 6,500 students and 700 teachers.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].