In part one of our three-part blog series on reinventing the computer lab, we discussed how Apporto helped Ithaca College reduce spending while delivering robust computing power by virtualizing and streaming apps and desktops to remote and on-campus users. Part two explored how Emory University used Apporto’s virtual computer lab platform to empower mobility and reduce IT support workload. In the conclusion of our series, we take a look at how UC Irvine leveraged Apporto to support a collaborative approach to learning. 

In a study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington, active learning driven by collaboration and interaction was proven to positively affect the academic performance of university students. More surprisingly, this study found that the absence of active learning can actually hurt a student’s chances of academic success [1].  

When colleges and universities shifted to remote learning during COVID-19, the collaborative nature of remote learning platforms enabled schools to deliver engaging and secure instruction to students anywhere, at any time, on any device.  

With more and more evidence showing that actively participating in the learning process encourages learners to invest more and retain the information more effectively, colleges and universities, like UC Irvine, are weaving remote technology into their collaborative learning strategies.  

Supporting a collaborative approach to learning 

UC Irvine has an extensive computer lab infrastructure that includes over 2,000 machines in active classrooms, lecture halls, and traditional, drop-in, and instructional labs. The university has identified interactive learning as a key strategic area that they want to develop.  

To that end, they’ve invested millions of dollars in the Anteater Learning Pavilion, California’s first purpose-built active learning building. UC Irvine has been using virtualization to remotely deliver apps since 2013, when they ran an Apache-based virtual computer lab with a partner company. This enabled them to provide expensive, resource-heavy software packages like MATLAB to students. By 2018, this lab was outdated, and their partner was unable to provide the support UC Irvine needed. 

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Like other colleges, UC Irvine (UCI) wanted to promptly get software to students in a device- and OS-agnostic way.  

UCI also wanted to reduce their IT support team’s workload which was made more challenging due to their use of a rolling upgrade cycle. This meant that there was often a wide variety of hardware and software configurations for the IT team to support. Maintaining stability and uniformity was a challenge. 


In addition to providing a more cost-efficient and effective replacement for their existing virtualization options, the UCI IT team wanted to expand its functionality to support more software and devices.  

Faculty also wanted controlled testing environments (e.g. LockDown browsers) for online student exams and the university needed to improve its IT security. 


In Fall 2018, UCI piloted Apporto’s streaming service. It was so well received that they moved the service into full production in February 2019.  

Because the service is completely browser-based, there’s no change in process or usability on different devices. Files are stored on a secure server and fine-grain access controls ensure that students only access what they need for their course load. 


UC Irvine deployed app and desktop streaming in their collaborative and active learning initiatives, both remotely, on campus, and in the Anteater Learning Pavilion, with excellent results.  

Since switching from their VDI to Apporto, support calls dealing with course software issues have become almost non-existent. There’s a significant cost savings and the UCI IT team is planning to expand its usage of Apporto.  

Virtual Computer Labs: The Future is Now  

As these three case studies show, leading higher ed institutions are making the computer lab more relevant than ever. Labs are being reconfigured virtually to deliver interactive learning, online learning, student collaboration, BYOD policies, and other new use cases.  

At the same time, IT teams are rebalancing their computer lab footprint to reflect new learning methods. Adopting this approach allows IT departments to deliver on strategic initiatives, lower their overall costs, and empower students to reach greater success.  

Contact us today to schedule a live demo and see for yourself why hundreds of colleges and universities across the globe trust Apporto with their transformation from physical to cloud-based infrastructures.  

[1] Urton, J. (2020, March 9). Underrepresented college students benefit more from ‘active learning’ techniques in STEM courses.