Education

Tools and techniques for managing classroom equipment

What do you do when a group of students wreaks havoc on your PCs? A TechRepublic member is looking for advice on how to manage the equipment in several departmental training centers.

In the forums of the TrainingRepublic, Mark D. is offering 95 points for some advice about managing the computers in his training room.

“We have numerous departmental training rooms and each department will not share their room with other departments because frequently the 'borrowing' department renders the PCs in the room unusable or, at least, not clean for the 'owning' department, either by installing an incompatible app or allowing the students to perform other undesirable tasks on the machine.”

There are technical and human solutions to this issue. TechRepublic members have covered both of these bases in their responses to Mark D.’s dilemma.

Put someone in charge
Bullfrogmiah has a personnel suggestion and a software suggestion:

“First, if you don't have one person in charge of training (or at least in charge of the training equipment), it would be a good idea to get someone. They would be in charge of re-imaging the computers, fixing them if they break, etc.

“Second, I would use an Access database to manage the equipment itself. Have a history on each machine, asset tags on the machines, room location, etc. It would be important to know what hardware is where.”

Just Ghost it, man
Jlivingston uses Ghost to preserve the original configurations of his machines. Then, when a class is over:

“We pop a boot disk in and re-image it. That way, no matter what the classes do to it, we can snap it back to the original configuration, with all of the apps we need. You could have an image on the server for every department, so whoever is using the training room could image the computers to their specifications.”

Lizzy also uses Ghost but has a warning about hardware:

“This works great if all of the hardware in the training rooms is identical, but can cause problems if they are different. If the images created are less than 650 MB, you can ghost them using the high compression, then copy them to a CD using a CD-Writer, use a boot diskette with CD-ROM drivers, then ghost from the CD back onto the PC whenever you need to. This works very well when you have different PC hardware and software configurations.”

Other options?
There are plenty of other options to consider, such as:
  • Making it harder for students to change the set up or configuration of the machine.
  • Devising an education plan that explains the problems and sets out consequences for breaking the rules (be sure to get the managers involved in this).
  • Selecting a couple of “experimental” machines in each training room that employees are allowed to alter.

What other solutions might be available to Mark D.? Drop us an e-mail, and let us know what has worked for you.
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