Parsec for Teams: free remote system for graphics educators

With many campuses going virtual, delivering courses with graphics-heavy assignments can be challenging. Students who are accustomed to completing assignments on the campus’s high-end machines now have to do their coursework at home, where they might not have access to the computing power they need. Giving such students a quality education in subjects like game development, architectural visualization, and virtual production can be a real struggle.

To address this challenge, Parsec Cloud, Inc. is making their Parsec for Teams software available for free to schools in the Epic community for the entire 2020-2021 school year with the help of an Epic MegaGrant. Parsec for Teams facilitates remote teaching of graphics-heavy subjects by providing an optimal connection between your school’s computers and your remote students at home, regardless of their hardware. 

If you and your students have sufficient broadband to stream movies in HD, all of you should be able to remotely run even the most demanding graphics applications that you teach. For animation applications, the system’s low latency results in high playback rates for students at home. You can even use Parsec for Teams to give online demonstrations or lectures through your more powerful Windows-based campus computers.

Parsec for Teams works by “virtualizing” host computers—your powerful campus machines—which you and your students can then access over the internet. Students can use just about any client to access a Parsec-virtualized host computer—Windows PC, Macintosh, Chromebook, even a Raspberry Pi.

All this makes Parsec for Teams a great remote teaching solution for Unreal Engine and Twinmotion as well as other technical graphics and design software. 
Parsec for Teams is ordinarily $30/mo per user, but the Epic MegaGrant is covering this fee for all schools in our community. Parsec Cloud and Epic Games realize that your school may not have planned or budgeted for the challenges of remote learning, and they want you to have the flexibility to keep your programs going safely and efficiently. 

What teachers are saying

For the River Springs Charter School in Temecula, CA, using Parsec for Teams meant that even though no one is allowed on campus, they could keep the all-important hands-on aspect of their game design program. ”My class is mostly Unreal Engine and 3D modeling, which requires decent computers to run the software,” says Chris Allen, CTE Game Design Teacher. “At first I was just going to change my whole class to be more of a game theory type of class, but that didn’t seem fair to the students.”

Allen gathered up the 30+ computers the students would ordinarily use on campus, put them in a central warehouse, and set them all up to work with Parsec. “At first, I was skeptical that it would run smoothly enough for students that have slow internet at home,” he continues, “but to my pleasant surprise, there have been no issues at all.”

Allen adds that he appreciates being able to help students directly through remote access. “With Parsec, I can click into any computer that a student is using and directly help them by taking control, showing them what to do.”

How much of an impact has Parsec had on the game development program at River Springs Charter School? “Without this help,” Allen says, “I would not be teaching Unreal Engine or 3D modeling this year.”

Parsec for Teams is also helping to level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students. “I teach in a low-socioeconomic area, where most students don't have their own computers, and have relied on rental Chromebooks from the school district,” says Mike Srsen, a graphic design teacher at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson, AZ. “Since graphic design relies on Adobe software that doesn't run on Chromebooks, we'd be in a very disadvantaged situation without the help of Parsec and Epic Games. Thanks to this free program, my students will be able to learn industry-standard skills by accessing campus computers running Adobe software. This support is making a big difference!”

Lake County Tech Campus in Grayslake, IL used Parsec for Teams to spread access to their specialized lab to 22 high schools across two counties. “Remoting-in means a student on a Chromebook can use the power of a high-capacity workstation with suitable performance,” says Joe Judge, Instructor of Games Programming and Virtualization. “Thank you to Epic Games for the opportunity, which has had such a positive impact in a time when limited or no in-person learning has become an obstacle to accessing such a lab.”

Choffin Career and Technical Center in Youngstown, OH is now 100% remote due to COVID-19, with students logging in from Chromebooks at home to access Unreal Engine on their classroom computers.

“It is amazing to see companies such as Epic care about the education of students during these unprecedented times,” says Donald Hileman, Information Systems Instructor at Choffin. “Providing assistance like the Parsec grant can be that one thing that makes a big impact in the life of a student.”

    Ready to turbocharge your curriculum with a virtualized campus? Find out to get started by reading our Parsec for Teams FAQ.