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Controlling students' use of PCs in ICT suites?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by mature_maths_trainee, Mar 16, 2012.

  1. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    Is there any software intended to allow 'detailed control' on how each student can use their PC? I don't mean something that's pre-configured by an ICT administrator to (say) block or allow access to particular websites - I mean something much more fine-grained control than that, and something that can be changed/configured by the classroom teacher at the start (or during the course of) the lesson.
    [I feel I need to resort to this because of too much mis-use of the PCs during lesson time - especially students accessing their own favourite websites whilst they should be completing the set task. I know the counter-arguements, eg. that students need to be given the freedom to make their own mistakes, or that it directly goes against the fundamental idea of a PC as a general purpose tool, or...., but... Also, I prefer to have sanctions that 'fit the crime', and giving lunchtime detentions or whatever for mis-use of the web seems 'wrong'. I much prefer a solution along the lines of 'if I can't trust you to use this tool appropriately, then I'll dis-engage some of its features'.].

    For my purposes, all I need is something that (after some initial configuration for the network IDs of the 'managed PCs') allows me to:
    - control precisely what applications can be launched at any given time.
    - control precisely what URLs they could visit in the course of the lesson.
    - *ideally*: allows me to quickly apply these controls to just a few selected user accounts, rather than necessarily the whole set of machines. That way, most students I would 'trust' to get on with the core task (but would still be allowed to 'mis-use' the PC if they, occasionally wished) and have unrestricted use : but I could quickly target (in a very controlled manner) those whom (behaviour shows) I could not trust.

    I'm sure some such software must surely exist because it surely has an almost global market (in schools, maybe even businesses, throughout the world).
    Is it affordable for schools? Is an open-source (i.e. free) version available?!!

    Not asking for much am I? :)

  2. Any remote control management software eg Impero, Ranger, ABTutor, LanSchool will do what you want.
  3. ABTutor would be my weapon of choice from the above list, but I'm not sure it'll quite do what you want here.

    At our place we can use our Windows-based proxy server to allow or deny specific sites to specific groups of students. That said, kids can still email or bring in a USB stick with flash games on.

    Ultimately it comes down to behaviour management. Substitue a computer and mouse for a pen and pencil and what would you do with a child who is doodling, playing hangman, making paper aeroplanes in a lesson?
  4. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    You can try and control them as much as you want but if they aren't engaged in the learning or activities then forcing them to do them isn't going to change that.

    I agree with HappyHippy; this sounds more like a behaviour management issue than a software/control issue. If they aren't doing what they should be doing, then go through the same behaviour policy that you would if they were avoiding work in other lessons

    We have Ranger at our school and I mostly use it to show students' work at the end of a lesson or so I can demonstrate something to the pupils. If the students won't turn their monitors off or whatever when I ask them then how would they respond when I force it upon them?
  5. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    Thanks for the helpful suggestions.
    As I said at the start, I understand the concerns with this approach. I'm going to start by looking at iTALK. It appears to be open source, and free.

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