Strategies for Managing School Computer Labs and Classroom Computers

www.wtvi.com/teks/labstrategies

A workshop presented by Wesley A. Fryer

Please read the copyright information below.
Last updated Saturday, July 19, 2003

"Adults are immigrants to the technology culture; students are native."
Darrell Walery, quoted in Technology and Learning, January 2001. Page 45.

Workshop Description

As schools continue to purchase more computers, and more them are Windows based, the complexity and magnitude of the jobs facing classroom teachers responsible for these resources grows by leaps and bounds. During this workshop, a variety of strategies to more efficiently manage school computers and teach with them will be shared. This is a workshop for TEACHERS, not technicians. Strategies will include sharing folders and CDs on the network, setting up read only "template" folders on the network, using lab management software like NetOP and Altiris Vision, reorganizing/simplifying START menus, setting up a campus intranet, and more.

Outline

  1. Reflections on the evolving definition of teacher / technologist
  2. Networking Terms / Concepts
    1. Computer Names
    2. Protocols
    3. IP Addresses
  3. Customizing START menu / the Launcher
  4. Changing Shortcut / Alias Icons
  5. Student File Saving
  6. Creating / Using a Templates Folder
  7. Saving to a Shared Network Folder
  8. Streamlining Internet Access
  9. Disk Imaging
  10. Accelerated Reader (running on the network, back up)
  11. Sharing CDs on the Network
  12. Setting Up / Using an Intranet Website
  13. Using the Server as an Install Library
  14. Using Lab Manager Software
  15. Other Links


Reflections on the evolving definition of teacher / technologist

A PDF copy of my overview is available.

There can be a big difference between the perspectives of instructional technologists (who started as "educators") and technology support / information technology (IT) people. These generalizations are stereotypes-- they are NOT true of all technologists / all organizations. While many educational technologists started as non-technical teachers, this is not always the case. Some technicians have crossed over into the classroom as well.

As I think more about this dichotomy, it appears there is a continuum of skills and perspectives between the two extremes described below. These differences are worth exploring and understanding, because both teachers and technicians have to work together in the educational environment. Disagreements and problems often stem from a failure to understand the differences between each group. Each stakeholder in the educational process should strive to understand the strengths as well as weaknesses of others, so student learning (the real bottom line) benefits as much as possible from available human resoures.

Instructional Technologists *
"Teachers"
  1. Love kids and education first, technology second
  2. Usually have a background in education, including educational theory, curriculum, etc.
  3. Are often out of the consultation loop when it comes to technology purchasing and acquisition
  4. Tend to ask: "What is best for kids / instruction?" before looking at technology.
  5. Prefer a graphical user interface (GUI)
  6. Have never taken a computer apart and would never want to build one.
  7. Are more likely to be patient and able to explain a new technology concept / skill to an uneasy / fearful peer (educator)
  8. Are unlikely to speak techno-jargon with ease and may be intimidated by the language of the IT people
  9. Are more likely to be acquainted with Macintosh computers
  10. Probably do not have access to a phone in their classroom (unless it is a personal cell phone)
Technology Support people
"Technicians"
  1. Love technology first, may or may not love kids or education
  2. Do not have a background in education, may have formal technology training
  3. Are the people who usually advise school policymakers and purse-string holders about technology
  4. Tend to ask "what technology solutions do I understand and prefer to use / maintain" before considering what is best for instruction.
  5. Prefer a command line interface over a graphical one
  6. Probably love to take computers apart and may have put together one or more computers from scratch
  7. May look down their nose at "ignorant teachers" who don't understand technology, and have little patience for teaching teachers (they just want to fix the computer or network, not explain to the teacher what they did)
  8. Often speak in an incomprehensible language, due to technological vocabulary words they assume the listener knows and understands
  9. Are likely unfamiliar with Macintosh computers, but may be none-the-less disdainful of them
  10. Probably wear a business / district supplied cell phone or beeper 24/7
* This is me

What models are schools following for technology instruction / integration?

Elementary:

  1. No technologist (computers in classrooms, computers in labs without any outside supervision or instructional support)
  2. Teacher aide as technician (no teaching certification, possibly little technology training, primarily keeps the computers running)
  3. Certified educator as full time computer teacher (usually cover conference periods)
  4. Certified educator as part time or full time facilitator (may be assigned to 1 campus or several)
  5. Librarian as part time facilitator

Secondary:

  1. Business teachers and Keyboarding teachers
  2. Writing lab teachers
  3. Pull out lab with certified teacher supervision

What are possible roles / responsibilities for teacher / technologists?

Student Support
Teacher Support
Other
  • Teach technology skills to students (classroom teacher often not present)
  • Supervise student use of computer labs, mainly word processing
  • Assist with TAAS tutoring / preparation during school hours
  • Tutor students formally or informally after school with technology projects
  • Facilitate integration of technology into regular classroom lessons by working with other teachers
  • Provide individual after school tutoring for teachers
  • Provide campus / district wide staff development training
  • Troubleshoot and support lab computers
  • Troubleshoot and support classroom computers
  • Coordinate campus technical support from outside sources
  • Maintain school website
  • Maintain campus intranet website
  • Maintain campus Accelerated Reader network, including client machines, server data, and data backups
  • Advise on campus-based technology budget (may include Title 1)
  • Attend staff development / workshops to improve technology knowledge and skills
  • Other administratively assigned technology tasks (certificates, photos, door signs, etc.)
  • If a librarian / technologist, may be responsible for running the library and maintaining library records as well
  • Help educate parents and community members about technology use, particularly responsible / safe internet use

What were was the teacher / technologist originally hired to do?

Two teacher / technologist personalities?

Our role is continually evolving and growing, and while some technologies promise to save time and make us more efficient, there are not any more minutes in the day.

Our goal today is to enhance your knowledge of and skills with computers which can both make life as a teacher / technologist easier and open new doors of opportunity for students.

For philosophical musings about operating systems, refer to "A Perspective on Operating Systems" on www.wtvi.com/wesley/os.html.


Networking Terms / Concepts

Network: 2 or more connected computers

Server: a computer dedicated to sharing files with other computers, usually on 24 / 7

Client / Workstation: a user's computer which can connect to the server

Operating System (OS): The basic language of a computer (analogy to languages is appropriate here).

Server OSs
Client OSs
Windows NT*
UNIX / LINUX*
Novell Netware*
Macintosh OS X Server (can be *)

Windows 95*
Windows 98*
Windows 2000*
Windows ME (Millennium)*
Windows XP*
Windows NT Workstation*
Macintosh OS (7.1 and older to 9.1)
Macintosh OS X (can be *)

* DOS / "command line" based (i.e. geeks love them)

Evolution of Windows and Macintosh Operating Systems (not a thorough history, just those most recent)

Windows OS
Macintosh OS
Windows 3.1
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows 2000
Windows XP
OS 7.1
OS 7.5
OS 7.5.1
OS 7.5.3 (now free from Apple, includes Open Transport 1.1.2)
OS 7.5.5 (free upgrade)
OS 7.6 (7.6.1 downloadable if it was your original OS)
OS 8.0
OS 8.1 (free upgrade)
OS 8.5
OS 8.6 (free upgrade)
OS 9
OS 9.0.4 (free upgrade)
OS 9.1 (free upgrade)
OS X
OS X 10.1.5 (Update now with "software update" system preference)
Jaguar (due late summer 2002)

Some play better with others:

Most computers today are connected with ethernet cabling

  1. Ethernet cable is the same for all computers regardless of the OS.
  2. Ethernet cable includes 4 "twisted pairs," or 8 wires in all.
  3. Computers need a "network card" or "ethernet card" to connect to the network with an ethernet cable.
  4. More than one computer connects to the ethernet network with a "hub" or a "switch"
  5. A hub is slower and cheaper
  6. A switch is faster and more expensive: it allows computers to more directly communicate with a server through the switch, instead of the hub which checks every "port" (connection) each time data passes through it.
  7. 2 computers can be directly connected together without a hub or switch by using a crossover cable
  8. Ethernet devices are rated by speed
  9. 10BT - 10 base T, this means how fast data can be transmitted, means 10 megabits per second (insert analogy here)
  10. 100BT = 100 megabits per second
  11. 1GB = 1 gigabit per second (1000 megabits per second)
  12. Fiber optics are MUCH faster than this

Network types include:

Computer Names

Computers on a network need unique names. Check to see what name is assigned to your computer by:

Windows XP

  1. Right Click My Computer
  2. Choose Properties
  3. Click the "Computer Name" Tab.
  4. The name is beside "Full computer name"

Windows 2000

  1. Right Click MY COMPUTER
  2. Click Properties
  3. Click the 2nd tab for Network Configuration
  4. Click the lowest PROPERTIES button (to rename the computer or join a workgroup/domain).

Windows 98/95:

  1. Right click the NETWORK NEIGHBORHOOD on the desktop and choose PROPERTIES. (Called "Network Places" in Windows2000)
  2. Click the IDENTIFICATION tab to view the computer's name and workgroup:
  3. The workgroup name should be EXACTLY the same for all computers in a lab. When it is, all computers in the lab will appear at the root (base) level of the Network Neighborhood.

Macintosh OS X (10.2 Jaguar):

  1. From the Apple menu choose SYSTEM PREFERENCES.
  2. Under INTERNET AND NETWORK click SHARING.
  3. The computer name is shown at the top and can be changed.

Macintosh OS 9:

  1. From the Apple menu, choose CONTROL PANELS and select FILE SHARING (for OS 8 and later. OS 7.X computers, select SHARING SETUP).
  2. The computer's name can be viewed and changed under "Network Identity":
  3. Macintosh computers do not have "workgroups" like Windows computers. Network management software allows computers to be categorized in different groups. To ease this process, lab computers might be named with a common prefix, like "Maclab 213 01".

Protocols

Computers on a network communicate with different protocols, which must be installed to work:

These protocols are used for file sharing and communication between programs. Having more protocols loaded on your computer than you need can slow down your computers and overall network performance.

Check to see what protocols are installed on your computer by:

Windows:

  1. Right click the NETWORK NEIGHBORHOOD on the desktop and choose PROPERTIES.
  2. Under the configuration tab (which should be selected by default, adapters and loaded protocols will be displayed:

Macintosh OS X (10.2 Jaguar):

  1. From the Apple menu choose SYSTEM PREFERENCES.
  2. Under INTERNET AND NETWORK click NETWORK.
  3. Click the TCP/IP tab to configure how the computer will obtain an IP address.
  4. Click the Appletalk tab to turn Appletalk on or off and select a zone (if available).

Macintosh OS 9:

  1. From the Apple menu, choose CONTROL PANELS and select APPLETALK (OS 7.5.3 and later. When a computer has Open Transport installed, the AppleTalk control panel will be present. Older systems have NETWORK control panel).
  2. Click the popup menu beside "CONNECT VIA" to view the available APPLETALK connection methods available:
  3. If your computer does not have an infrared port or an ethernet card, these options will not be available.

IP Addresses: In addition to a unique computer name, to access the internet and/or utilize the TCP/IP protocol, computers must have an assigned numerical IP address. They come in two forms:

  1. Dynamic IP address: Assigned by the server (called a DHCP server) at the time the computer starts up or is woken from sleep.
  2. Static IP address: Also called a "hard IP address," this address is fixed by the person configuring the computer and does not change until changed by a user or administrator.

Each of these IP addressing options have different benefits and drawbacks:

Dynamic IP Address
Static IP Address
PROS

Faster to configure

Easier: don't have to keep track of each computer's IP address

Can use as a server

Easier to track user activities

CONS

Can't use as a server

Harder to track user activities

Slower to configure

More of hassle to keep track of separate addresses

Computers on the same network can be configured with dynamic and static IP addresses (the entire network does not have to be static just because one computer has a static IP)

Why do you care about static IP addresses? If you want to do one of the following things, you will need a computer configured with a static IP address:

How can I find out what my IP address is?

Windows XP and 2000:

  1. Click START - RUN.
  2. Type "cmd" and press enter.
  3. Type "ipconfig/all" and press enter.

Windows 98 and 95:

  1. Click START - RUN.
  2. Type "cmd" and press enter.
  3. Type "winipcfg" and press enter.

More helpful Windows XP Command Line Utilities are available from TechTV.

Macintosh OS 9

  1. Select the Apple Menu, Control Panels, TCP/IP.

Macintosh OS X (10.2 Jaguar)

  1. From the Apple menu choose SYSTEM PREFERENCES.
  2. Under INTERNET AND NETWORK click NETWORK.
  3. Click the TCP/IP tab.

 

Customizing START menu / the Launcher

Wasted time is potentially a major problem in a school computer lab. To enable students to quickly open a desired application, lab computers can have customized START menus () or Launchers ().

Customizing a Windows computer START menu: One of the nice things about the Windows OS is that almost universally, when you install a software program designed for Windows (not DOS), a folder for the program group and shortcuts for included applications are automatically placed in your START menu. This can be a pain, however, as the START menu can quickly balloon in size with a large number of program folders, and it can be confusing for adults as well as students to find the desired application.

Unlike the Macintosh OS, users SHOULD NOT move program folders from their installed locations on the hard drive (C:). THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! If you move a program icon or folder, shortcuts elsewhere on your computer to those applications will not work!

Like the Macintosh OS, however, users CAN move program shortcuts (called "aliases" on Macs) to different locations without adversely affecting computer performance.

A computer's START menu, before being customized as described below, may look something like this when the PROGRAMS menu is selected:

To customize the icons in the START menu, right click the START menu and choose OPEN:

The PROGRAMS folder within the START MENU may look something like this before customization:

It is helpful to change the VIEW of the PROGRAMS menu during this process. I prefer VIEW - ARRANGE - AUTO ARRANGE and also selecting ARRANGE BY NAME:

If your computer is configured to open a folder you double click in the same window, hold down the CONTROL key to open the folder in a NEW window.

The main guidelines of START menu customization are:

  1. Move all programs to the root (base) level of the PROGRAMS menu folder, unless you really want them grouped in a separate folder.
  2. Throw away all folders you don't need after moving the applications that were in them.
  3. Move all programs students will not use or should not use into a separate UTILITIES folder.

After identifying an application you want to move to the root level of the PROGRAMS menu folder:

  1. Hold down the CONTROL key and double click the program group folder to open it in a new window.
  2. Right click and drag the application from the program group folder to the PROGRAMS menu folder (root level). Choose MOVE:
  3. Right click the original program group folder and choose DELETE:

After customizing the PROGRAMS menu folder, it may look something like this:

This will result in the actual START menu looking something like this when selected:

Note how much cleaner these START menu icons look compared to the original ones. All program files can still be launched from the START menu, but the interface is much simpler and less confusing. Plus, users are less apt to accidentally launch an application they should not open, since those programs are contained in the UTILITIES folder or other folders.

For younger students (esp. primary: K-3), a special folder can be created on the desktop containing shortcuts to those programs used most often by this age group. To do this:

  1. Open the START menu as described above.
  2. Copy the START menu shortcuts into a new folder on the desktop

Customizing the Launcher

There are many ways to launch programs on a Macintosh besides opening the hard drive and navigating to the program icon. These include:

To open the Launcher (included with OS 7.5 and later), from the APPLE menu choose CONTROL PANELS and select LAUNCHER.

To add an icon to the Launcher:

  1. Open the Launcher as described above.
  2. Open the hard drive and locate the program icon you want to add to the Launcher.
  3. Drag and drop the program icon on top of the launcher (on the background color-- orange in the example above, not on another program icon).

To remove an icon from the Launcher, hold down the OPTION key and drag the button off the Launcher. Icons can be dragged directly to the trash if desired.

To create a new Launcher menu (the example above has six different ones):

  1. Open the HARD DRIVE, SYSTEM FOLDER, and LAUNCHER ITEMS folder.
  2. Create a new folder (Press Command - N). (The "command" keyboard button looks like an Apple)
  3. Hold down OPTION and press the number 8 above the keyboard to make a dot as the first character of the folder name. Then type the name you want displayed as the Launcher menu name. The Launcher Items folder for the example Launcher shown above looks like this:
  4. Icons at the root level of the Launcher Items folder will automatically go into a Launcher Menu named "Applications." If you don't want a Launcher menu named Applications, put all your aliases in folders and don't leave any loose at the root level of the Launcher Items folder.

Changing Shortcut / Alias Icons

Program icons generally already come customized, and the shortcuts / aliases you make to these programs usually retain the same icons. It is fun, and often instructionally helpful, to customize the icons of folders and even programs. This can be especially helpful for younger students who may not be able to read yet.

After customizing icons, the teacher can tell students something "double click the icon of the red fish" instead of "double click the yellow folder named Primary Programs."

Generally, Macintosh program and alias icons are much easier and more fun to customize, but Windows shortcuts can be customized in a similar way.

Macintosh custom icons: To change the icon of ANY Macintosh file (program, alias, document, or other file):

  1. Click once on the file icon you want to copy. (Hundreds of free icons are available at www.iconfactory.com. Kidcons, Star Wars: TPM, and Wallace and Gromit are among my favorites.)
  2. Press Command - I to get information about the file. (The "command" keyboard button looks like an Apple)
  3. Click once on the small icon in the upper left corner:
  4. Press Command - C to copy the icon to the clipboard.
  5. Close the Information window.
  6. Click ones on the file icon you want to change.
  7. Press Command - I to get information about the file.
  8. Click once on the small icon in the upper left corner.
  9. Press Command - V to paste the copied icon onto the new file.

Hard drive icons can be customized similar to these and using icons from iconfactory.com's The Apple Desktop Collection.

An even easier way to customize a Macintosh icon (for a program or a folder) is to assign it a color category:

  1. Hold down CONTROL and click on any folder or icon you want to change in color.
  2. Choose LABEL and pick the color you want:
The label instructions above are for Mac OS 8 and later. For pre OS 8 Macs, click once on the icon and from the VIEW menu at the top of the screen choose the label color / category desired.

Windows custom icons:

Windows does NOT include any way to change the colors of folders or icons like the Mac OS. You can still change file icons, however.

If you want to get more sophisticated than the simple techniques described below, you might want to download a shareware application to assist in this icon changing process. These programs allow you to extract icons from image files and create your own, as well as change file icons. Options include:

A less complicated option for changing Windows icons, similar to the techniques described above on a Macintosh, is to download categorized icon sets and then change the file icon for SHORTCUTS. This method just works on shortcuts-- not on actual program icons. For that, as far as I know, you need a program like one of those suggested above.

The steps for customizing a Windows shortcut icon are:

  1. Download this file: installthebesticons.exe (1.9 MB)
  2. Double click the file to expand the icon set onto your hard drive
  3. Right click the SHORTCUT file you want to customize with a new icon and choose PROPERTIES.
  4. Click the CHANGE ICON button in the lower right corner:
  5. At the bottom of the window, change the popup menu beside FILES OF TYPE to ALL FILES:
  6. Navigate to the path: C:/All-Icons and open the folder you want:
  7. Click OPEN to view the icons contained in the file. Click on the icon you want, then click OK:
  8. Click OK to accept the changed icon and close the file properties window.

If you want to change the icon of a folder on the desktop (like make a PRIMARY APPLICATIONS folder with an icon of a red fish), move the actual folder containing your program shortcuts to the C: drive. Then make a shortcut of the folder on the desktop. You can use the steps above to customize the icon of that folder shortcut on the desktop!

Student File Saving

One of greatest challenges (and perhaps THE greatest challenge) to technology integration in the classroom or lab is file saving. Without clear guidelines from the teacher that become habits, students are likely to:

I recommend you teach students to make two decisions when saving a file:

  1. NAME: What are they going to name the file? If they are saving in their personal folder / home directory, the name just needs to reveal the contents of the file. If saving in a shared folder (which other students can access), students must also include their name in the filename.
  2. LOCATION: Where is the file going to be saved? The best choice is usually the student's personal folder / home directory (if students log into the network with a unique userid). The main advantage of saving the file on the network is that it can be accessed from other computers on the network.

If students are saving files in a mixed platform environment (Macintosh and Windows computers), file extensions are important. Windows computers only recognize which application to use by the three character extension that follows the filename.

More information about file extensions is available on my Intermediate Internet workshop handout: www.wtvi.com/teks/ii/#3.

A handout about file saving in PDF format is also available.

 

Creating / Using a Templates Folder

The single greatest "discovery" I have made as a computer teacher is the creation and use of a "templates folder." I refer to this as a "discovery" because while the separate procedures described here are not novel, I had never heard or read of anyone setting up a network "Templates" folder like this. This templates folder does not require that any special security software be installed on your school computers, or that complicated Windows system "policies" be put in place to control user access. This is a simple solution that you can either do yourself, or request from your network administrator with the description included below in italics.

A templates folder is a folder on the network which:

Teachers should save files for use in student lessons as TEMPLATES in this folder. (For more about templates, refer to the article, "Teaching with Templates", and/or attend my workshop "Strategies for Classroom Technology Integration: Part 1." A handout describing how to create templates for MS Word and PowerPoint is available.

A template folder offers these benefits:

You can create this folder if you have administrative "rights" on your school network, or you can request that your network administrator create it for you. If you are requesting that someone else create this folder, this is what you should ask for:

"Please create a folder on the network named Templates. Assign the student user group READ ONLY rights to the folder, and assign the teachers user group READ / WRITE / DELETE rights to the folder. Also, please create a shortcut on the desktop of each student client workstation to this folder, and name it 'Templates'."

Most schools have either WindowsNT or Novell servers. If you have a Novell server and administrative rights to at least one folder on the network, you can create a template folder by following these steps: (These are for a Novell Netware 4 server which maps the server hard drive to F:. Other versions of Netware may be slightly different.)

  1. Log into the network with your administrator userid / password on a Windows computer. (The Novell Netware administrator program does not have a Mac version)
  2. Create a new folder on the server (in a folder on the F: drive) named "Templates".
  3. Open Netware Administrator: . If you do not have a shortcut to this program, navigate to the path: F:/SYS/PUBLIC/WIN95 and open the file Nwadmn95.exe:
  4. Once the main menu opens, double click your campus "context" (in this case, "Rush"):
  5. Double click the STUDENT user group: to edit it:
  6. On the right side, click RIGHTS TO FILES AND DIRECTORIES:
  7. Click the BROWSE button at the top to show the available server volume and current rights. Browse by clicking in the right window, and select your server volume (the same name mapped as the F: drive when you log in) on the left side:
  8. Click the ADD button in the lower part of the window and navigate to the new folder you created in step #2:
  9. Click the rights desired. Since this is the Student user group, only READ rights and FILE SCAN should be checked. Click OK to accept the changes.
  10. Repeat these steps for the Teacher user group, except assign READ and WRITE rights. The following boxes should be checked as rights for teachers: READ, WRITE, CREATE, ERASE, MODIFY, FILE SCAN.

Macintosh makes file rights visual

One nice thing about Macintosh access to network files is that visual indicators are included which show what rights are available in a particular folder.

When a student is logged in to the network and views the template folder, created according to the description above, the folder looks like this:

The pencil with the line through it in the upper left corner indicates that the student does not have WRITE access to the contents of this folder.

When a teacher with READ AND WRITE rights to the folder is logged in and views the same folder, it looks like this:

Note the pencil with the line through it is NOT present, indicating the teacher has FULL access rights to the contents of this folder: to create, delete, move, edit, etc.

Windows does not have a comparable visual indicator in each folder of the user's rights to the contents.

 

Saving to a Shared Network Folder

If you have a school network and students are saving to either floppy disks or their computer's hard drive, you are missing out on one of the greatest advantages of networked computers! The primary advantages of networked computers are probably:

To set up a shared folder for student file saving, follow the same steps as described above for setting up a TEMPLATES folder, except give ALL users the READ AND WRITE file rights detailed for teachers in that example.

A shortcut to this network folder can be put on the desktop, as suggested for the TEMPLATES folder, to assist students in file saving. (This is the only option available for Macintosh clients). A more elegant and efficient solution for Windows computers, however, is to MAP the shared file saving folder as a drive letter on each client computer.

MAP a network folder (do these steps on each student workstation)

  1. Navigate to the shared file saving folder you created on the server and assigned all users READ and WRITE access to.
  2. Right click this folder and choose MAP NETWORK DRIVE. On a computer with the Novell client installed, it will look like this:
  3. Choose the drive letter you would like assigned to this folder. This folder will henceforth appear in MY COMPUTER as another drive letter, like your A: floppy disk and C: hard drive. Check all the boxes under the network path and then click the MAP button:

Streamlining Internet Access

The quickest way to encourage students to waste time on a computer is to give them a URL (internet address) to type in by hand. This can:

Allow students to quickly access an internet website by either:

  1. Creating a link on your school intranet homepage (as described below)
  2. Copying a website shortcut / alias to:
    • A shared folder on the network
    • The desktop of each computer or the START menu / Launcher of each computer
    • The desktop of all student workstations with lab management software (described below)
  3. Saving a hotlist (in Word, AppleWorks, or another word processor, or Inspiration) as a template file in the network TEMPLATES FOLDER (described above)
  4. Use a free web bookmark service like Backflip (www.backflip.com) and either set your homepage to a public backflip hotlist, or use the desktop shortcut method to link to your Backflip page.

Any of these methods allow teachers to avoid time-consuming tasks like saving a website as a favorite / bookmark on all client workstations.

Additional ideas about making student internet access faster are available in the article, "Streamlining Student Internet Access."

Steps for creating a website shortcut file:

  1. Close or minimize all windows/programs open on your computer.
  2. Open your web browser (like Internet Explorer).
  3. Navigate to the page you want to make a website shortcut of.
  4. Restore the webpage window so it does not fill the screen (it is not maximized) and you can see the desktop.
  5. DRAG the IE icon from the ADDRESS BAR at the top of your screen and DROP it on your desktop.
  6. Copy or move the website shortcut file you have created to the desired network folder, for student access.

Steps for changing your default web browser

Windows XP

To set Internet Explorer 6 as the default browser:

  1. From the TOOLS menu select INTERNET OPTIONS
  2. Click the PROGRAMS tab at the top of the window
  3. Check the box next to "Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default web browser."
  4. Quit Internet Explorer.
  5. Open Internet Explorer again. When prompted whether you want IE to be the default web browser, click YES.

Alternative way to set file types for any file extension (including .htm and .html for webpages):

  1. Open My Computer.
  2. From the TOOLS menu choose FOLDER OPTIONS
  3. Click the tab for FILE TYPES
  4. Scroll down and locate the extension you want to reassign.
  5. By OPENS WITH click CHANGE and locate the program you want on your hard drive.

Sometimes it is easier to reinstall a program and let it change file extension assignments automatically. This manual method works also, however.

Macintosh OS X

  1. From the Apple menu in the upper left corner open System Preferences.
  2. Click INTERNET.
  3. Click the WEB tab.
  4. Select the desired default browser.
  5. Close the window.

 

Disk Imaging

Setting up lab computers can be a time consuming hassle, but it doesn't have to be. Several different "disk imaging" software programs are available which can make this process much faster and less arduous.

Step 1: Set up 1 computer as your "model"

Whether you are working with Macintosh or Windows computers, take one of your computers and install all the software you want on each student workstation. Customize the START menu or launcher, configure the web browser for internet access, change desktop icons, and make all other desired configuration changes.

When selecting the client computer you will use as a "model," select the computer which has the least number of crashes / freezes. If all your computers are crashing and freezing, you should completely erase the computer's hard drive by either using a restore CD or the original operating system install CD.

For network access, this should include:

After one computer is set up just like you want all others to be, use drive imaging software to copy the entire hard drive to other computers:

Windows Imaging Software
Macintosh Imaging Software

Altiris LabExpert

Symantec Ghost

Apple Remote Desktop

Carbon Copy Cloner

If your district has adapted one of these software solutions, request that your tech support department provide you with a disk (in the case of Windows software) you can use to relatively painlessly re-image client computers.

 

Accelerated Reader

Whether or not you agree with the extrinsic-reward philosophy behind the Accelerated Reader (AR) program, the fact is that many schools use AR and rely on teachers or librarians to keep AR computers up to date. This can be a ridiculously time-consuming process if your campus is using AR in a stand-alone mode. In this situation:

  1. Student names must be either created or imported separately on each workstation
  2. AR tests must be imported separately on each workstation
  3. AR data must be backed up separately on each workstation
  4. When a new AR test disk arrives, it must be installed separately on each workstation
  5. At the end of the year, AR data must be exported separately on each workstation

A welcome respite from this nightmare is possible if AR computers are networked. This setup is slightly more technical than the standalone option discussed above, but it is MUCH more time efficient. In a networked situation:

  1. All student names can be created or imported at once onto the server
  2. All AR tests can be imported at once onto the server
  3. All AR data can be backed up at once from the server
  4. When a new AR test disk arrives, it can be installed ONE time onto the server
  5. At the end of the year, all AR data can be exported at once from the server

All the AR program steps described here are for AR version 4.

Might Need to Expand

The AR program is normally purchased with a limited number of student users, like 250. Depending on how many students attend your school, you may need to purchase an AR Expansion disk from Advantage Learning to allow more students (than 250) to be entered on the networked version of AR. After you receive this disk, use the AR Teacher program and select SETUP - INSTALL - STUDENT EXPANSION to complete this process.

Create Network AR Data Folder

To network AR:

  1. Create a network folder as described previously in the section on a network TEMPLATES folder. THIS AR DATA FOLDER MUST HAVE READ AND WRITE RIGHTS ASSIGNED TO ALL USERS. This is unfortunate, since a user could theoretically move or delete the AR data on the network at any time. That is the requirements of the AR program (at least through version 4.0)
  2. Use the AR Data Utility program (which requires use of the AR Teacher disk) to create a new data set in that network folder.

"Map" the AR Data Folder as a drive letter (optional)

On a Windows computer, just like you can "map" a shared folder for file saving as a drive letter, the AR data folder can be similarly mapped.

The disadvantage of doing this is it will present students with more straightforward access to the AR data folder within MY COMPUTER, and since they have both READ AND WRITE rights, they could theoretically delete or damage files.

The advantage of doing this data drive mapping is that it can make the process of specifying a DATA PATH much faster on a Windows computer. If the steps below for locking the AR configuration files are followed, however, a new data path should never have to be specified unless the AR data folder location on the network changes.

If desired, map the AR data folder as described above for mapping a shared folder.

Set Up Client Computers

Once the network AR folder has been created, you must set the DATA PATH for each client computer so they "point" to that data folder.

Do this by:

You will next need to install all the AR tests owned by your campus into the network AR data folder. Alternatively, if you already have all the tests installed on a networked computer, you can copy 4 files (to be added) from that local hard drive folder into the network AR data folder to accomplish the same goal much faster.

Lock local AR Configuration Files

The biggest headache about running AR in a networked environment (besides teachers accidentally deleting students not in their class or students accidentally deleting AR data on the network) is client computers that lose their DATA PATH. (The previously mentioned headaches can be minimized, by the way, by regularly backing up your AR network data). Prevent client computers from "losing" their data path by locking their local configuration files:

Back Up AR Data Regularly!

Your best insurance against accidental deletion or corruption of network AR data is regular backups. To backup, copy the entire network AR data folder to a local hard drive.

HERE IS THE BIG CATCH TO AR BACKUPS: Every AR user MUST QUIT both the AR Student and AR Teacher programs for the backup to be successful.

If you backup the network AR data folder to a Macintosh computer's hard drive and a user (even JUST ONE) on your school network is still running AR, the copy request will fail and you'll get a message" AR2.CFG in use. That means someone is still running the program! Go find out who it is, quit AR on their computer, and attempt the backup process again. If this error message does NOT come up again, then everyone is off the program and the data backup should be successful.

If you backup the network AR data folder to a Windows computer, THERE IS NO WAY TO TELL IF SOMEONE IS STILL RUNNING THE AR PROGRAM! :( All files will copy to the local hard drive, but if someone is still running the program some of your data files will become corrupted on the local hard drive. You will need to use the Data Utility program to repair the data folder.

If you ever have to delete the AR data on the network and replace it with backed up data, do not delete the original network AR data folder. Instead, delete the CONTENTS of the folder, then copy the contents of the backup folder into it. If you assigned rights to the AR data folder and mapped drive letters to it, you will have to redo all this if you delete the entire folder. So stick with deleting and replacing the contents.

 

Sharing CDs on the Network

Windows CDs can be shared over the network just like folders, and mapped in the same way as drive letters that show up in MY COMPUTER. Navigate to the shared CD by opening the NETWORK NEIGHBORHOOD and finding the computer sharing the CD you want. More info on setting up file sharing is available on www.wtvi.com/teks/exchange/win95faq.html#Q6

Mac CDs can be mounted automatically at startup by selecting that option after choosing APPLESHARE in the CHOOSER. After selecting the computer and item to mount, check the box beside it and click the radio button beside SAVE MY NAME AND PASSWORD (see graphic at right). More info on setting up Mac filesharing is available on www.wtvi.com/teks/exchange/macfaq.html#Q5.

Before sharing all the CDs you have in your lab, understand that:

 

Setting Up / Using an Intranet Website

If you have administrative rights to one folder on your network, you can set up an Intranet website. I suggest:

  1. Creating a new folder called "websites" and setting it up like the templates folder, except give EVERYONE just READ rights. If you are the only user who will be making changes to the intranet website, just give yourself READ AND WRITE rights.
  2. Create an intranet homepage with a webpage editor and save it into this "websites" folder. Call it something like "index.htm".
  3. Make this local page on the network the start page of every computer's web browser. Do this in Internet Explorer in the Tools - Internet Options menu () or EDIT - PREFERENCES menu (). Steps for IE 5, 3, and Netscape 4 are available.

Create the website just like you would create a website for the internet, but save all files locally in your "websites" folder on the server.

Additional information about creating educational websites is available on www.wtvi.com/html.

 

Using the Server as an Install Library

Another way to utilize your network is to create a folder for use as a software installation library. Instead of continually using disks or re-downloading software that you'll need to install more than once, copy the installation files to the server. Then, run the "setup.exe" or other setup file from the server folder when you need to install the application.

This is a sample of what an installation library folder might include:

Unlike the "websites" folder, which ALL users had READ rights to, the "installers" folder should have READ - WRITE rights only for the people handling software installations. Students do not even need READ rights to this folder, unless they will be using it to install software themselves.

 

Using Lab Manager Software

Teachers need help controlling and limiting what students access and do on school computers. There are 3 general types of software programs that can help with this:

A new article about "Computer Management Software" is available, detailing functionality, benefits, and options.

Lab manager software can allow a teacher to lock student workstations, share a screen with all lab computers, moderate a class chat, and even transfer files to workstations. Some versions allow files to be transferred from one computer to the others.

Software for lab management includes:

Windows Software
Macintosh Software

More information about different lab manager software options is available on: www.wtvi.com/teks/exchange/netop/

Computer Lock-Down Software

Windows Software
Macintosh Software
  1. Fortres 101
  2. Cleanslate
  3. Foolproof
  4. Deep Freeze
  1. Foolproof (pre-OS X)
  2. Built in UNIX file permission setting in OS X provides all the control you need to lock down file access - GUI interface coming in Jaguar update (late summer 02)

 

Internet Filtering Software

 

Other Links

  1. Technology Integration Tools and Techniques: www.wtvi.com/teks/tools/
  2. Teaching and Learning / Overview
    1. The Learning Pyramid (what teaching modalities help learning most)
    2. Different Levels of Technology Integration (from the presentation "Practical Tips on Technology Integration for Administrators")
    3. Notes from NECC 2003 sessions I attended
    4. Notes from Ian Jukes June 2002 Presentation: "Living on the Digital Edge" (NECC 2002)
    5. Article on Gordon Moore and "Moore's Law"
  3. Tech Support
    1. IT Guy Archives for Technology and Learning magazine (www.techlearning.com)
    2. My Technology Idea Exchange: Submit questions and read questions / answers submitted by others: http://www.wtvi.com/teks/exchange/
    3. Computing.net - A great source of answers for technical questions
    4. Things Technologists / Librarians should know about Macs and AR - www.wtvi.com/teks/exchange/macs.html
  4. Other Technology Integration Stuff
    1. My Tools for the TEKS: Integrating Technology in the Classroom website: www.wtvi.com/teks/
    2. Notes from "Keeping Kids Honest: Using Digital Resources to Steer Clear of Plagiarism"
      by Caroline McCullen
    3. My "Technology Integration Academy" 4 day workshop curriculum: www.wtvi.com/teks/tia/
  5. Other available "How To" guides:

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