Using Virtual Machines to Enhance the Educational Experience in an Introductory Computing Course

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Cyber Research Center, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Publication Date


Publication Title

SIGITE '19 Proceedings of the 20th Annual SIG Conference on Information Technology Education

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


This paper describes and evaluates the use of virtual machines (VMs) in an introductory computing course to simplify the installation of required software and reinforce student understanding of client-server networks and applications. The impact of VMs was assessed by tracking the change in software installation and troubleshooting time and student performance across two academic years and ten classrooms. The results indicate that the use of VMs improved classroom efficiency, increased instruction time previously lost to software installation, and sustained or improved student performance on critical events. Additionally, the students had greater success building web applications on the VMs that both they and their instructors could view both source code and the running application.

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