Below are examples of best practice where institutions have supported their students with access to resources and facilities that that enrich the student experience.
The continuous refinement of the innovative laboratory sandbox concept and its applications across the course portfolio – Leeds Beckett University 2014
Academic staff in the School of CCTE, in conjunction with their faculty technical support team, utilise a PXE image management system to create a sandboxed environment for use by all students studying computing based modules - in particular those studying computer forensics and security.
The three specialised labs are isolated from the University network and have access to an imaging system which allows students to explore, configure and maintain their own system images. Students are allowed to have full administrative access to these systems and, within University regulations, are allowed to modify the content of these computers. One of these labs also includes racks of network devices, a VOIP system and a Private Mobile Network to allow students to gain practical hands-on experience and facilitate experimentation with system installation, configuration and management.
The labs allow students to learn practically in a safe environment, in particular hands-on activities related to hacking, security and network and system management that allow students to attack other physical machines, virtual machines and servers, and the introduction and analysis of viruses and malware.
These labs allow for the delivery and use of the leading industry Forensic tools EnCase by Guidance Software and ForensicToolkit by AccessData, Network Instrument’s Observer network management tool and various other specialised open source/freeware products as deemed required by the course team - ones which would not normally be allowed on a standard University network. These licenses are restricted to these three specialised labs to reflect real world practice and to benefit from the administrative privileges granted to the students.
The specialist computing laboratories with industry standard specifications – Northumbria University 2013
The Department owns a large number of specialist laboratories, which are used extensively by all our students. This provision is supported by a small team of Department based technicians. The provision includes:
- A 24 seat and a 48 seat Network laboratory equipped with a very wide range of Cisco network equipment.
- A 40+ seat Computer and Digital Forensics laboratory.
- A realtime laboratory for embedded studies.
- Specialist Computer Games laboratory.
- A studio and a laboratory supporting Computer Animation and VFX activities
- A studio supporting Audio and Music technology
- 7 large general purpose IT laboratories
- A 150 seat 24/7 open access area, that includes access to a large range of specialist software
All of the laboratories have appropriate industry standard software to provide students with the most up to date experience practical. Further detail can be found at: http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/sd/academic/
Loaning of equipment such as laptops to students – University of Sunderland 2012
Loaning equipment – the department has a policy of enabling students to borrow equipment when this will enhance their learning and provide opportunities to undertake their learning in an environment which suits their needs and circumstances. Students have the opportunity to take equipment such as laptops offsite, and this is monitored and controlled by completing a student equipment loan form. An example of students borrowing equipment to take off site is when they are undertaking investigations for the BSc Computer Forensics programme – in such instances “Forensic” laptops are loaned to students along with specialist digital forensics equipment such as write blockers.
Students are also able to borrow specialist equipment for use in computer laboratories out of normal class time. This tends to be equipment which could be easily removed from the university – in these circumstances students use a lab access form with an indication of the serial numbers of the equipment they have borrowed being recorded on the form. For short term onsite loans such as these students leave their student card with the computing technicians.
The loaning of equipment has received positive feedback from students and has enabled more flexibility in their learning.