Much like other Ontario post-secondary institutions, the mission of Toronto’s Humber College is to prepare students for careers through a comprehensive choice of applied and liberal education programs. As Ryan Burton, Humber’s IT planning and client services director notes, Humber is always looking for ways to enhance IT services in support of student success. Powerful PCs and easy access to productivity software applications are integral to the learning experience, says Burton, and the school wanted to ensure that students were taking advantage of the latest technology tools.
With an active enrolment of 24,000 students, the college is committed to enhancing its technology tools to help enhance the student experience. For example, Humber students depend on Microsoft-based software such as Windows® 7 and Microsoft Office® Professional Plus 2010 to complete assignments, communicate with faculty and collaborate with fellow students.
Matt Semenick, a student currently taking a Computer and Network Support Technician course at Humber, notes that his study habits include using his laptop supplemented with visits to the campus labs.
“I work with technology, I learn about technology, and I use technology every day. The labs are often full and I need to ensure that I have the same Windows software on my laptop as what’s in the lab to finish assignments,” says Semenick.
“Although Humber provides standardized academic workstations in its lab environment, we need students to be able to access the same or similar software technology, regardless of location. But with everybody bringing their own equipment, it's a bit of a challenge to deliver a consistent computing experience for all students,” says Burton.
The goal, Burton notes, was to ensure that students could benefit from a standardized software environment where everyone could have access to the latest and up-to-date Microsoft technologies. Today’s student simply needs a powerful computing experience regardless of location and the polytechnic post-secondary institution wanted to improve access to technology to help enhance the student experience.
||We’re using the Microsoft Campus Agreement to enhance the computing experience for our students by providing fast and easy access to the latest Microsoft software staff and students need to succeed.
IT planning and client services director
To help improve student experience and access to software, Humber College partnered with e-academy Inc., an Ottawa-based electronic software distribution solutions provider for Microsoft®. E-academy recommended the school take advantage of the Microsoft Electronic Software Delivery program to facilitate the digital distribution of their Microsoft® Campus Agreement (Student Option) for the 2010 - 2011 academic year.
Humber is leveraging its Microsoft Campus Agreement, which provides cost-effective licensing for a variety of Microsoft software (including Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010, Office for Mac 2011 and the Windows 7 operating system). The move not only saves students money, but also gave the IT staff much greater agility in meeting IT needs, says Burton.
Working with e-academy, Humber took advantage of a turnkey Electronic Licensing Management System (ELMS) service platform which provides a secure online channel for electronic software downloads of Microsoft software to students. The ESD platform enables Humber to access a more cost-effective way to deliver software quickly and securely to the intended academic users with no additional paperwork or administration required on their part, says Vivek Raju, senior Account Manager at e-academy.
“The e-academy platform ensures that we can authenticate to their specific institution to ensure eligibility and also maintain policy enforcement by accepting a digital signature of the Microsoft End User Licensing Agreement. Students at Humber do not own the license, however, if they finish their four-year program the license is transferred into their name. Humber is now able to pay a marginal fee on behalf of the student to make the product free, while students benefit from a quick and easy download of the tools they require to be successful,” says Raju.
The Microsoft Campus Agreement gives Humber the flexibility to provide a subscription based license for student owned or institutional provided devices used exclusively by the individual student, says Glen Donegan, Microsoft Canada, adding that these licenses are also enrolled in Software Assurance which means they are eligible for future upgrades as well as other benefits.
The Microsoft/e-academy solution helps minimize both the administrative and technical work associated with software license management and distribution, thus making it easier for Humber to get the most from its Microsoft Campus Agreement. Humber students log into a Humber branded site - provisioned and managed by e-academy - and then are authenticated and given fast access to the software and product key for installation.
Previously, students independently acquired and used various versions of Microsoft software, making for an inconsistent computing experience. Now Humber students all have access to the latest Microsoft technologies making for a more standardized software environment – which enables them to collaborate more effectively with each other and their instructors.
“I would say the ability for students to have access to the technology off-site, so they can put it on their laptop and take their laptop anywhere with them is a huge plus,” says Steve Camacho, Technology Support Team Lead. “It also eases some of the pressure on both students and on the computer lab – which makes Humber more competitive and a more attractive option to students.”
Humber College is taking advantage of the Microsoft Campus Agreement and e-academy’s ELMS platform to help simplify license management and assist students in accessing cost effective downloads of Microsoft-based technologies. As one of the first post-secondary institutions to take advantage of this digital distribution platform, Humber has been able to gain more value for their software dollar – while enhancing the overall student experience.
“It’s a strong value proposition and we’ve essentially absorbed the cost to offer new and current students a solid reason for attending our school. If you're debating between which colleges to attend, knowing you can get Microsoft software at no additional cost can be an attractive factor in coming to Humber,” says Burton.
Simplified License Management
The move to the new digital distribution platform not only helped save money, but also gave the IT staff much greater agility in meeting the university’s needs. An additional benefit to students is upon graduation, the subscription license becomes perpetual for the then current versions of the software.
“For Humber, the shift towards subscription-based licensing is effective because we're able to manage it on a year-to-year basis. We've got more control and there are not a lot of up-front costs, so we're not spending millions of dollars by purchasing perpetual licenses that may or may not be effective five or six years down the road,” says Burton.
Faster Access to New Technologies
Humber now licenses the majority of its Microsoft software under a Microsoft Campus Agreement, an annual subscription that allows specified Microsoft software products to be installed on university-owned computers at a significant savings to the college. The move helps Humber improve licensing administration, support academic goals, and maximize their returns on technology investments.
“We’re using the Microsoft Campus Agreement to enhance the computing experience for our students by providing fast and easy access to the latest Microsoft software staff and students need to succeed. On the IT side, we are now better able to manage software distribution to a large group of unmanaged devices,” says Burton.
“Students can get software right away; they can download it, install it and be using it within an hour, rather than waiting for a physical media to arrive within three to five business days. It’s a licensing arrangement that allows students to always be on the most current version of the software as well,” says Raju.
One important Software Assurance benefit related to the Windows 7 license is the ability to run a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). VDI provides the option to have a server based instances of the Windows OS and applications running in a virtual environment with the end point device, in this case the student’s computer, connecting to and controlling the virtual desktop.
“Many institutions are looking to VDI technologies to provide access to specialized software via the student’s device rather having to provision and maintain lab environments. They are also interested in providing for the commonly used software to be installed directly on the student’s personal computer,” says Donegan.
“As a student, I found it really helpful in the sense that I was able to download software like Microsoft Office and Windows 7 Ultimate edition quickly and legally,” says Semenick.
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For more information about e-academy products and services, visit the website at: www.e-academy.com/
For more information about Humber College products and services, visit the website at: www.humber.ca/