Since the academic year 2021/22, the HTL Leonding, an engineering-focused college, has been using Proxmox Virtual Environment (Proxmox VE) in order to teach network technology lessons in all classes and grades. Additionally, the platform is used to host applications that were developed in various students projects and diploma theses.
The Austrian HTL Leonding offers its students disciplines such as informatics, media engineering, electronics/computer science, and medical engineering as well as a night school for informatics and system/media engineering.
Modern education practice for computer networking
Proxmox Virtual Environment was used at the HTL Leonding for a couple of years before it gained momentum in the academic year of 2021/22. During that year’s summer break, the teachers worked hard to put their instructional practices for building and setting up basic network services on a modern footing. Simultaneously, an advanced installation of Proxmox VE should be carried out based on the HTL’s initial installation. Additionally, the virtualization solution can also be used for applications developed in the context of school projects, making Proxmox VE an excellent add-on to the already existing LeoCloud.
“In the development phase, the HTL Leonding analyzed and tested the individual features of Proxmox VE in detail,” explains Michael Wagner, teacher at HTL Leonding.
“The simple and intuitive user interface turned out to be ideally suited for our school operations and for the students to make their first steps in a virtualization environment. The powerful network functions also made integration into the school network much easier and offered our students a wide range of options. At the end of the summer of 2021, we had set up and configured our server with the current version of Proxmox VE.”
Challenging School Network
The integration of Proxmox VE in the school network first appeared to be a challenge. In the end, the separation of the teaching network, the school internet, and the administration network was successfully realized with the help of both the IT administrator of the HTL Leonding and with the powerful network functionalities of Proxmox VE.
M. Wagner, “Thanks to the flexibility of the virtualization platform the software allowed for an uncompromising implementation in terms of security and functionality.”
Helpful Community and Proxmox Employees
“During the entire setup process we also ran into problems and came up with questions which we couldn't answer or solve ourselves,” says Michael Wagner. “Luckily, we got lots of help from the Proxmox community forum and could solve all our issues. On top, the fact that Proxmox employees are also active in the forum added a lot of value to it.”
Distance Learning and Hybrid Classes
“At the beginning of the academic year 2021/22, we started the first lessons in the computer science department. Students quickly got a grip on the environment and were able to successfully implement the first exercises and practical tasks with Proxmox VE. We introduced the platform step-by-step, and thus, we were also able to eliminate existing rough edges in and around the system.”
“During the Covid-19 pandemic we moved to distance learning and hybrid classes. The system revealed its full potential, as students could easily access it from home using OpenVPN. This enabled a seamless transition between the different teaching modes for us. It was a huge plus that students could manage their own virtual computing environment in Proxmox VE, a fact which contributed greatly to the success of the concept.”
“In the course of the school year, we were able to expand the pool of tasks, exercises, and projects. We offered in-school training sessions, which were also well received. Other important success factors were the coordination meetings and intensive communication.”
Completion and Use in Network Teaching
Seven months after the start of the project at HTL Leonding the roll-out was completed and Proxmox VE is now used in network lessons in the first, second, and third years of computer science and media engineering, and also at the night school - a total of 18 classes and around 450 students.
Michael Wagner “During the academic year, we were able to set up a high availability (HA) cluster consisting of three used servers. With this configuration we could kill two birds with one stone: we now have the necessary capacity to implement our planned teaching concept and have at the same time established fail-over.”
During the implementation phase, we had to overcome a few hurdles and invest lots of time. Without the great teamwork and mutual support, such a broad roll-out would not have been possible. Overall, the final outcome and benefits are much greater than our invested efforts. The student feedback on Proxmox VE has been very positive.”
Prof. Ing. at HTL Leonding
About HTL Leonding
A HTL (Higher Technical Education Institute) in Austria is an engineering-focused college for higher vocational education. HTLs are an important part of the Austrian vocational education and prepare people to work as technicians. They specialize in disciplines such as electrical engineering, informatics, information technology, mechanical engineering, and more. The HTL Leonding offers disciplines such as informatics, media engineering, electronics and computer science, medical engineering, as well as a night school for informatics and system/media engineering. Founded in 1984, the school currently has about 1100 students and 140 teachers of whom 12 teach networking, Cybersecurity and distributed systems.