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The use of virtual machines to support hands-on learning experiences in undergraduate systemsoriented courses

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The Information Technology (IT) academic courses have always been challenged with inadequate availability of
hardware and software to support hands-on learning experience in teaching undergraduate IT courses. In most
cases there are inadequate computers in the computing laboratories for students to demonstrate their learning
experiences and acquire expertise skills. The cost of setting up these laboratories is another major challenge.
Teaching and learning IT academic and professional courses has been a concern to university authorities all over
the world due to the scarcity of IT resources. Developing countries suffer most due to low economy power to
provide adequate IT infrastructures for enhancing hands-on learning experience for enrolled IT students.
System-oriented courses such as networking, web design, computer forensics, programming and operating
systems for instance; require deployment of several computers in the computing laboratories to provide handson
experience. Virtualisation technologies have been gaining recognitions because of proven advantages and
successes. One of the major advantages of adopting virtualisation to industries and individuals has been cost
reduction and optimisation of resources.
Some academic institutions in Europe and America and part of Asia have been using virtual machines in
computing laboratories to mitigate the problem of inadequate computers to support learning.
This paper aims to explore the implementation and successes of using virtual machines to support hands-on IT
teaching and learning in undergraduate IT courses. The findings of the study would be of importance to
university authorities in developing countries who are considering virtualisation as a way of mitigating the lack
of IT resources.
Keywords: virtualisation, virtual machines, IT infrastructure.

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