Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School Helps Boost Educational Test Results by Using Virtual Desktops
 
 

Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School Helps Boost Educational Test Results by Using Virtual Desktops

  • Oracle Customer:  Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School
    Location:  Kaalfontein, South Africa
    Industry:  Education and Research
    Employees:  50

The Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School in Kaalfontein, a low-income community in South Africa, was initially established and funded by Oracle in partnership with the community in 2006. Later, a nationwide educational program took over funding of the school, though Oracle continues to support the school’s educational efforts.

The school has 40 teachers and 10 staff members, serving 1,200 pupils. The pupils study subjects, including English, accounting, business management, science, mathematics, and liberal arts. Eighty-seven pupils, aged 13 to 17, currently take classes in computer technology (including hardware, software, and basic IT skills).

The students originally shared PCs that were neither networked nor connected to the internet, requiring teachers to collect schoolwork from each machine, individually. The computers were also subject to frequent malware attacks because of viruses brought in on memory sticks. Because the machines were shared, students frequently deleted the work of other classmates, inadvertently.

With the introduction of Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, Oracle Virtual Desktop Client, and a Sun Fire X4170 M2 server, students can now access their own secure folders, and teachers can conveniently access students’ schoolwork without risking malware infections.

 
 

 
 

Challenges

A word from Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School

  • “Thanks to Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, students’ schoolwork and test results remain secure from malware and accidental deletion by other students, which better supports academic goals and leads to improved test scores.” – Khaya Makhubeka, Head of Department, Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School

  • Implement a secure, interconnected network, using current PCs, to enable each pupil to be connected to other students, teachers, and the internet
  • Reduce the time teachers spend collecting student homework, which required accessing computers one by one to copy files manually onto USB sticks
  • Eliminate students being able to inadvertently infect PCs with viruses brought from home on USB sticks
  • Enable teachers to configure or change classes with ease directly from their own computers
  • Implement passwords, so that students can only access their own folders in their own protected file space
  • Improve students’ familiarity with computers to provide access to national tests, which are given online and support South Africa’s higher education goals

Solutions

  • Worked with Oracle Partner SCS Africa to implement Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and the Oracle Virtual Desktop Client, running on Sun Fire X4170 M2 server, with Oracle Solaris 10, turning fat-client, stand-alone computers into networked, thin clients, with wireless internet access, giving students and teachers more secure access to schoolwork and tests
  • Enabled teachers to access schoolwork and distribute files directly from their own PCs, avoiding the need to download files and the risk of malware from infected USB drives and saving work-time hours
  • Reduced the number of malware infections by 95% by enabling students to work in a network environment, encouraging them to send their homework via e-mail instead of using infected USB sticks
  • Provided students with secure and easy access to their personalized folders to eliminate the possibility of schoolwork being accidentally altered or deleted, as 40 computers must be shared among 87 students
  • Enabled students to access, for the first time, national tests administered by the South African Department of Education in electronic format, access that improved test scores from an average of 78% correct in 2009 to 93% in 2011

Why Oracle

“The Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School is committed to Oracle, not only because Oracle founded and supports our operations, but also because Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure was the perfect tool to deploy a connected, secure desktop environment without changing our hardware,” said Khaya Makhubeka, head of department, Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School. “Before the implementation, our teachers spent hours collecting students’ work off of PCs that were frequently infected with viruses. Now the data is secured and collected through networked computers, enabling us to concentrate on educational results.”

Implementation Process

In 2011, Oracle partner SCS Africa installed Sun Fire X4170 M2 and the Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. It also created the software that enabled the newly interconnected PCs to access the school’s Windows applications. The Oracle partner next trained interns to deploy the software, and also set up the secure folders for the students to store their schoolwork.

Partner

SCS Africa was instrumental in the implementation of the Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure solution and subsequent support. It developed Sunflower software, based on Oracle Sun Ray software, which allows pupils to have access to secure, individual folders. It also developed a Sun Ray Connector for Windows, so that students and teachers can access Windows applications. It also trained teachers on how to use the system.

“Sometimes students accidentally deleted other classmates’ work, which was very frustrating for our pupils. Once SCS Africa customized the Oracle Sun Ray software so that each student could have secure access to their own work, that problem was eliminated,” Makhubeka said.