Please read the copyright information below.
Last updated Saturday, July 19, 2003
"Adults are immigrants to the technology culture; students
Darrell Walery, quoted in Technology and Learning, January 2001. Page 45.
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.
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.
What models are schools following for technology instruction / integration?
What are possible roles / responsibilities for teacher / technologists?
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.
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).
UNIX / LINUX*
Macintosh OS X Server (can be *)
Evolution of Windows and Macintosh Operating Systems (not a thorough history, just those most recent)
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 8.1 (free upgrade)
OS 8.6 (free upgrade)
OS 9.0.4 (free upgrade)
OS 9.1 (free upgrade)
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
Network types include:
Computers on a network need unique names. Check to see what name is assigned to your computer by:
Macintosh OS X (10.2 Jaguar):
Macintosh OS 9:
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:
Macintosh OS X (10.2 Jaguar):
Macintosh OS 9:
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:
Each of these IP addressing options have different benefits and drawbacks:
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
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:
Windows 98 and 95:
More helpful Windows XP Command Line Utilities are available from TechTV.
Macintosh OS 9
Macintosh OS X (10.2 Jaguar)
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:
After identifying an application you want to move to the root level of the PROGRAMS menu folder:
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:
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:
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):
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):
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:
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:
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!
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:
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.
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.)
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.
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)
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:
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:
Steps for changing your default web browser
To set Internet Explorer 6 as the default browser:
Alternative way to set file types for any file extension (including .htm and .html for webpages):
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
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
"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.
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:
If you have administrative rights to one folder on your network, you can set up an Intranet website. I suggest:
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.
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.
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:
More information about different lab manager software options is available on: www.wtvi.com/teks/exchange/netop/
Computer Lock-Down Software
Internet Filtering Software
Tools for the TEKS home
| Article Archive | Technology
Mailing List | Feedback | Tools and Techniques | Technology Idea Exchange
Contact me using this
Links to my blogs are also available.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.