IT Machines a Benchmark for Instruction

Innovators at Work

| By: Britten, Casey

Innovators at Work: How Fox Valley Tech is adapting to historic times with inventive solutions for students and efforts that uplift our community.     


IT Machines a Benchmark for Instruction     

Tear it down. Put it back together. Troubleshoot a security issue while programming networks. In part, those hands-on applications portray a day-in-the-life of a student in Fox Valley Technical College’s Information Technology (IT) programs before and during the COVID-19 crisis.

That’s right. IT instruction at the college hasn't missed a beat during these trying times. Students continue to excel because virtual technology was already in place to complement a repertoire of advanced IT innovations at FVTC.

IT faculty inputted virtual machines into their programs years ago as an innovative tool for students to access their hands-on labs, anywhere, anytime. Recently, faculty members presented their virtual environments to other Wisconsin technical colleges to provide an overview on their usage. This level of expertise at FVTC is nothing new to the IT community. Its recently-remodeled IT Center of Excellence opened in 2017 as a regional model for all things related to computer technology.

“Our virtual machines are used in about 90% of IT classes, and we’re currently running about 4,000 of them per semester,” notes Steve Ebben, an IT department chair. “We can install almost any operating system in a virtual machine—providing flexibility as technology continues to change.”

Many students work with numerous virtual machines per class, running different software and operating systems to simulate real-world business environment. “This new way of learning due to the coronavirus is really not new to us; we’re constantly looking at supportive and innovative resources for our students, and these machines are paying off during a difficult time,” adds Ebben.

Virtual machine