In previous years, my day consisted mainly of demonstrating a website, activity or assignment and then walking around my lab attending to student’s problems or concerns, getting students back on task when they wander to another website and dealing with behavior management issues. THIS year, everything changed. The single greatest thing I have ever done (teaching-related) was to install and configure the iTalc Computer Lab Management System.
I researched many different computer lab management software programs; however since I didn’t have $1500.00 to spend on this venture I was limited to choosing a free program. It was immediately evident that there was only one legitimate choice: iTalc – Intelligent Learning and Teacher with Computers. http://italc.sourceforge.net/
Now I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it was easy to install and configure, because it wasn’t. It took several tries, any many hours to get the system working the way it was supposed to. In the end, it was MORE than worth the time and effort it took to setup, this program changed everything for me.
Using iTalc, I now have the following abilities:
- Turn on/off student computers simultaneously from my desk with only a couple clicks
- Log on/off student accounts with a specific username
- Lock one or all the student computers
- Display my screen on student computers (demo mode)
- Display a student’s screen on all other student screens (student demo mode)
- Take snapshots of student screens
- Monitor in real-time all student screens simultaneously
- Take over a student’s computer from my desk
- Send individual or group messages to students
- Execute commands on student computers
All of these tasks are done from a single relatively easy to use management teacher console.
When I am unable to gain the students’ attention, a quick lock on all screens will give me their undivided attention. If students are not staying on task or are performing particularly well, a quick individual message can work as a warning or positive reinforcement. A snapshot of a student screen showing inappropriate material can be used in determining appropriate disciplinary measures. The ability to log on to the computers is invaluable to me for pre-k and kindergarten classes since the students cannot yet login to the computers themselves. When I need to demonstrate something, instead of having the students strain to see the smart-board from their seats, I can easily project my screen onto their individual computers where they can easily see and follow along. If a student’s work is particularly good I can quickly display it for their classmates to see.
I would definitely recommend this program for any computer lab or classroom teacher that has no budget and wishes to drastically improve their control over student computer use.