I gave a presentation at the Cardiff University Distributed Information Technology conference on Wednesday, 22nd June 2011, about how we use LanSchool at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Cardiff University, with my colleague Chris Yeo. The slides for the presentation are below.
The theme for the presentation was to highlight not only the options available to the teacher to control the computer classroom and enhance learning within that environment but also to show how this tool can be used to good effect as a technical tool.
As a teaching tool LanSchool has been very effective in being able to bring control back to the computer classroom. The very simple function of ‘Blank Screen’ gets attention straight away so you can focus minds on the task. Having the ability to restrict when the internet (and Facebook in particular) with the ‘Limit Web’ function shows the class that these interferences and distractions are not welcome in the limited time of the class.
Broadcasting the teachers screen to the class has been a benefit to the teaching and learning experience for many reasons. Even the best designed classroom layout can make it awkward for a student to observe the screen and the Show Teacher function gives the student the option of how to view actions on screen. As such this function has been a benefit to students with visual impairment also.
Another benefit has been in classrooms where there is a specialized computer of which its specific software or processes would need to be learnt. Without LanSchool the students would huddle around one small monitor and try to watch as it was being demonstrated. With LanSchool this specialised computer can be selected as a student and either shown on the projected screen or broadcast to the class thus giving the students a better learning experience.
The voting and quiz functions are excellent methods of gaining instant feedback to gauge the level of understanding or viewpoints at a particular time.
Chris Yeo, a technician at the Cardiff School of Journalism, has been using LanSchool to quickly and efficiently install patches, updates and applications in all the computer classrooms. Using LanSchool has meant that the many minutes it takes to just log a classroom of 30+ computers on can now be done in a fraction of the time by using the ‘Send Ctrl-Alt-Del’ command.
Likewise executing the installer application on many computers would normally take a huge amount of time. With LanSchool small applications can be sent to each computer and then commanded to run all with just a few clicks.
Larger applications can be stored on a network drive. A script can then be executed on each computer to locate the specific pathway and run the installer application. Again with LanSchool it can take just seconds to start the process, a process that would otherwise have taken much longer.
While installations are underway the Blank Screen function can be used to stop students trying to use the computer, giving specific messages such as ‘Please use another computer’ and therefore reducing the possible interruption of maintenance.
And lastly the ability to switch all the computers on or off is also hugely important as we try to reduce overall power consumption.
It was mentioned in subsequent tweets (#cardiffdits) that other applications such as Apple Remote Desktop for Mac could enable some or all of these technical functions. Only LanSchool combines the teaching and learning tools with tools that can also be utilised for technical purposes and therefore in LanSchool in think we have found a tool that suits both purposes very well.