Transform the Challenges of a Mobile Campus into New Opportunities for Learning

Mobile workspaces help to bridge the gap between the expectations of mobile users and the technical capabilities of colleges and universities

The rapid evolution of mobile technology is changing the way we learn, work and educate. Mobile students need mobile workspaces with on-demand, secure access to the apps, data and services they require, expanding beyond traditional methods to promote independent and exploratory learning—all without compromising security or compliance. In the webinar, originally broadcast on September 9, 2014, Kurt Eisele-Dyrli from University Business and Nicole Nesrsta from Citrix presented the results of a new University Business survey about the challenges higher ed leaders are facing in regard to mobile technologies on campus, and discussed how mobile workspaces can transform these challenges into new opportunities for learning.

Kurt Eisele-Dyrli
Web Seminar Editor
University Business

Some of the statistics from a 2013 EDUCAUSE study¹ might not be a surprise to you. Looking at the numbers and types of mobile devices that students are using: 89 percent of students own a laptop, 76 percent own a smartphone, 43 percent own a desktop computer, 31 percent own a tablet and 16 percent own an e-reader. Also, the study found that 58 percent of students say they own three or more mobile devices. Of course, you add that up, multiply that times many thousands of students on your average college or university campus and you are looking at a huge number of mobile devices, and a wide diversity of types of mobile devices.

Students don’t just own this technology. The study found that they also value this technology because it helps them achieve academic outcomes, to prepare for future academic plans, and prepare for the workplace. Similarly, students said mobile technology makes them feel more connected to their institution, professors and other students. However, despite owning and valuing these devices, 74 percent said the use of smartphones in class is banned or discouraged at their institution. Those numbers serve as the background of this recent survey we conducted. Together, University Business and Citrix deployed a survey in June to the entire UB audience of leaders at nearly every two- and four-year institution in the country. We got a large number of responses from higher ed leaders serving a variety of institutions.

Our first question was, “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Students today should be able to remotely access all the information, data and software they need on any device at any time and with a consistent user experience.” When you add up the different levels of agreement, about 94 percent of higher ed leaders agree that students should have this kind of access—an overwhelming majority.

Our second question was: “To your knowledge, do all students at your college or university have this ability to remotely access the information, data and software they need from any device at any time and with a consistent user experience?” Of the respondents, 22.6 percent said yes, they do. A majority, 55 percent, said definitely no, they do not provide this access. And 22.3 percent unsure if their institution provides it. We had a hunch that that would be the case, that most institutions did not provide this level of access. We wanted to delve into the reasons why they did not. So our next question got a little more specific: “If you did answer no to that previous question, tell us why and check all that apply.” A majority answered that “we don’t have the budget or staff to provide this level of service” or “our network infrastructure couldn’t support that level of remote access.”

The rise of mobile technology has inspired the term “mobile first,” describing a strategy or approach where you are designing software and applications with the understanding that most users will be accessing them on mobile devices. We were curious if this was reaching into higher ed at all. So we asked this question: “When it comes to developing and/or providing software applications for your campus users, does your institution take a ‘mobile first’ approach?” About 83 percent said no. Moving on, we identified a certain type of software that we call “resource-intensive, on-campus-only” software. These are programs that could be used for computer-aided design, statistical analysis, art, photography, perhaps graphic design. So we asked respondents to estimate what percentage of their students and faculty require access to these kinds of programs. About 30 percent of respondents said more than half of their students and faculty require this access.

Finally, we circled back to our original question, asking, “How helpful would it be if you had the capability to provide all students and faculty with secure, seamless access to these applications anytime, anywhere and from any device or operating system?” When you add up the responses saying that this would be helpful, they total about 97 percent of higher ed leaders responding that yes, being able to provide this capability to students and faculty would be helpful to the institution.

Nicole Nesrsta
Education Solutions Manager

This need of having to give anytime, anywhere access no matter what kind of device people are using is really important. I think we see schools heading that way because you have students who are bringing in a variety of devices from every maker. When it comes to colleges and universities, Citrix puts the focus on your most valuable asset—the people. The number of students applying to college is decreasing, so attracting the best students, faculty and staff is becoming more difficult. Schools are having to become a little bit more creative in the ways that they are competitive.

If you look at a day in the life of a your average student, it paints a picture of what this challenge really looks like. A student starts off their day in their dorm or off-campus apartment and they are working on their personal device, such as a laptop. Then they go on campus for the day and they’re going to have another device with them, such as a tablet. After class, they head to the computer lab where they are working on a thin client. Then they might have an on-campus job, where maybe they are provided with a MacBook or a Windows device. And then late at night they are out with all their friends and they have their smartphone. Even though we know that students typically own three or more mobile devices, the reality is that they are interacting with many more devices during the day. So how do you manage all of this?

What we’re seeing is that schools are talking about mobile workspaces and providing an all-in-one system or area where students can securely and seamlessly access the learning and productivity apps, data and services that they need, with any device or over any network or on any cloud. So what does a student mobile workspace look like? Think of everything a student would need during the day to get their work done, to interact with their peers, with their classmates, or with their professors. They will need to collaborate online and to share data and project work securely. Then, you need to provide access to all the Windows, web and mobile apps students need to work, learn and study by virtualizing apps and desktops. This complete, mobile workspace enables your students, faculty and staff to get access to apps, data, desktops or whatever they need from whatever device they are working on.

Mobile workspaces also offer mobility management. You probably have several apps that are not built to work on mobile devices. How do you make sure that students and staff can have a good experience on those mobile devices? If you use an MDM or an MAM technology, you can now make even Windows apps and resource intensive apps perform just as well on a tablet as they would on a traditional computer. Finally, to make your mobile workspace run smoothly and perform just like a regular desktop would, make sure you have the right networking and cloud infrastructure in place so that it’s secure, it runs great, and everybody has a high-definition user experience.

¹Educause Center for Analysis and Research, ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2013,

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to:


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