Monday, 11 March 2013

Computer Lab Solution for Classroom Management

The school I am currently working at has just set up their first computer lab.  After being appointed IT teacher I was looking for a more effective way to deliver lessons to a class of 30 students.  I was looking for some type of management software where I could view and control student screens.  After a lot of research and viewing several Computer Lab management solutions my decision was to go with Net Support School.  It was the more expensive option but very much worth it.  The speed of installation was a bonus right from the very beginning.  However the amazing thing about it, and this is truly amazing for a windows computer, it simply worked.  I didn't have to do a thing.  It found all the computers in the computer lab in seconds.  Installation on 30 computers took me less than 1 hour to complete from start to finish.  There were no complicated settings to enter and absolutely no frustration.

I had previously tried unsuccessfully to get SmartSync working in our lab on the trial version, absolute nightmare.  It was complicated and beyond me - and that's coming from someone who considers herself to be pretty computer literate.  The setup time involved in having to go individually to each computer and enter settings was unrealistic.

NetSupportSchool was a huge outlay financially for this school, especially being a public school, however the benefits are definitely worth it.

It is going to take me some time to use the application to its full potential as there are so many features, but so far the features I am using most are:

Logging into computers - because the computers are visible from the time they are on the log in screen. The best thing this application has over others is that it allows you to take over the computer before it is logged into.

Desktop view - (I can view all student desktops all at once)
Desktop share/control/watch - (I can take over, share or watch a student's desktop)
Send/Collect work - (I can send out work to student computers and once saved I can collect these back up again - all documents are all placed in folders with the students' name on them).
Screen lock/unlock - Lock and unlock all student screens (handy when you are talking and you want students to listen).
Broadcast message - You can broadcast a typed message to appear on all student screens - I used this during a lesson to provide students with my email address.  I've also used it to end lessons.  Kids love the novelty of it.
Power Off computers - This feature will turn all or selected computers in the class off.

These features are just the basic ones which I have figured out how to use on the run.  There are so many more features which I am sure I will begin to use in time, although, the above features alone make it well worth the financial outlay in my opinion.

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