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Review: iTALC classroom monitoring and management

iTALC is for any teacher, training department, etc. needing a tool to control multiple workstations in order to simplify classroom instruction.

If you are a teacher, instructor, presenter or anyone who needs to help a classroom (or audience) grasp certain PC concepts, nothing helps better than a tool that allows you to, in real-time, demo those concepts or steps to your students. Or what if you had to test students on hands-on aptitude? Or what about taking control of a classroom of desktops, or even locking a student out of his/her computer? It might sound difficult, but there are plenty of tools available for such tasks. One tool is the open source iTALC, which is not only free (both in cost and source), it is also incredibly powerful and not insanely difficult to set up.

Specifications

Available for Linux and Windows XP/2000

  • Linux requirements:
    • libqt4-dev
    • xorg-dev
    • libxtst-dev
    • libjpeg62-dev/libjpeg-devel
    • zlib1g-dev/zlib-devl
    • libssl-dev/openssl-devel
    • ssh client and server
  • Windows requirements:
    • Windows 2000 at least, Windows XP recommended
  • iTALC is an acronym for Intelligent Teaching And Learning with Computers
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Who's it for?

iTALC is for any teacher, school, university, training department, etc needing a tool to control multiple workstations in order to simplify instruction.

What problem does it solve?

iTALC simplifies the problem of taking control of a students' workstation, demonstrating a task to a classroom of students, watching workstation progress, and more. iTALC also allows a teacher to control workstations, to the point they can lock a student out of his/her machine. And testing or progress is made easy by allowing a student to show a demonstration from their workstation as well.

Standout features

  • Easy to use interface
  • Overview mode allows Master to watch and take snapshots
  • Power on/off workstations
  • Send text messages to workstations
  • Secure-key authentication for better security
  • Easy installation
  • Works in heterogeneous environments (Linux, Windows)

What's wrong?

  • The biggest problem issue that some might have is authentication. If the key pairs are not generated correctly, or given the proper permissions, the Master will not be able to log into the workstations. And, if the keys are not locked down, a student could temporarily keep the Master out of the machine.
  • The other issue is that (as of this writing) Windows is only supported up to XP. Windows Vista support is promised soon, but nothing about Windows 7.

Competitive Products:

Bottom line for business

If you are looking for a cost-effective classroom management solution, you need look no further than iTALC. Not only is iTALC easy on the budget, it is easy to install and use. You won't find a better match, near the same price point, as iTALC.

User rating

Have you encountered or used iTALC? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

5 comments
Dean Spasser
Dean Spasser

The control of teacher over her students through iTALC is amazing. It sets the line that the teachers are still the boss.The teacher should have the right to monitor what his student is viewing and has also the equal rights to shut his/her computer down when he/she is fooling around. - Dean Spasser

stemple
stemple

Can more than one master PC (Instructor, Technician) view a classroom at the same time? Would like to allow Master-B view the classroom while Master-A views and/or controls the classroom PCs.

trevorjohns
trevorjohns

I use it on our K-12 school network and it generally works well. There are a few small issues though: 1) you'll probably need to increase the Windows "half-open" TCP/IP limit of 10 connections for reliable monitoring. It often would "hang" when switching between rooms 2) connection to a remote machine is sometimes difficult, maybe requiring 2 or 3 attempt to come up 3) having multiple people monitoring one group of machines (staff checking a shared computer area) can cause view problems - different people see different things on the same machine

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Does your organization expend resources on training like it should? Has the training budget been cut recently? Have you considered an open source tool like iTALC?

omarquez
omarquez

Have you been able to find an answer for this? I am having to do the same, and its not workng.

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