Supporting NETLAB+ in the Central Region

An Interview with Salvador Vargas, Dean of Career Technical Education and Workforce Development, San Joaquin Delta College

While using a virtual lab system on campus benefits students and instructors, it does require a significant initial investment. We interviewed Salvador Vargas, Dean of Career Technical Education and Workforce Development at San Joaquin Delta College to find out why he supports NETLAB+ and to get some practical advice for other administrators looking to implement a virtual lab system.

Why do you use NETLAB+ at Delta College?

“We use NETLAB+ as an additional resource for our students in the Cisco Academy classes. The availability of NETLAB+ has also provided a forum for other ICT courses such Linux, A+, and others to use the virtual space with limitations. In addition, Delta College is taking the lead in a Regional ICT project by providing access to other colleges in the region to NETLAB+.”

How long has your system been up and running?

“We started using NETLAB+ around 2006/2007 and we have been using it every semester."

What feedback have you received from Instructors about the use of NETLAB+ in the classroom?

“The instructors cannot imagine teaching their students without this resource. Delta College offers the Cisco Academy courses in a compressed schedule and students need as much access to the networking equipment as possible. The Cisco Academy physical lab is only open for a limited time and NETLAB+ provides critical access at flexible times.”

Why might colleges want to adopt NETLAB+?

“The appropriate and up-to-date networking equipment can be costly for some colleges. Therefore, some colleges do not have enough equipment, they seldom upgrade, or they have very limited course offerings. NETLAB+ does have a onetime cost that can be significant, but well worth it in the long-term.”

Are there any lessons learned or best practices you’d like to share?

“It is critical to work with your Information Technology department. NETLAB+ does not require a lot of bandwidth but it does become an issue once the user base starts growing. It is also important that you setup the NETLAB+ environment with more than minimum equipment and bandwidth required so that it becomes as flexible as possible and meets the needs of the students.”