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Good times coming in the computer lab… February 7, 2010

Posted by fafeeley in Uncategorized.

The Chicago Public Schools has provided each school with a laptop cart with 16 units for the primary purpose of use during standardized testing during the spring and fall. During the remainder of the school year they will be permanently installed in my library computer lab. The library program has been fortunate to have 12 laptops for two years, but there have been many problems with these computers during their time in my library.

From the outset the original 12 laptops were not equipped with software to prevent students from changing settings. So students discovered untold ways to change settings and to inconvenience others. My side of the school building is about 50 yards from the Center on Halsted,  a community center with free, unrestricted wifi. Several students quickly realized they could bypass the district’s Internet filter if they switched to the Center’s wifi. Each time they did this the Center’s wifi became the default setting for that unit.  Among the many problems this created was that computers off the school network were not able to send jobs to the printer. Frustrated students would send jobs to the printer over and over and over – and these jobs would come spilling out of the printer the next time those computers were restored to the school network. The waste of student and teacher time (not to mention the waste of paper and ink day in and day out) was becoming the bane of my existence. The district tech department has to this day failed to provide me a simple solution (which I am sure exists) to prevent students from changing computer networks. Various setting changes and other mischief have rendered the use of these units very frustrating, especially for younger students.

But it’s a new day! Now the older computers will be retooled by the tech teacher and redistributed throughout the building for teachers and classroom use.  And although I have still not been provided a mechanism to prevent students from changing settings, the new computers are loaded with a software called DEEP FREEZE which will automatically restore original default settings every time the computers are restarted. This is a giant step forward!! This past week I allowed students to use the new computers, and it was wonderful!!

This week I will finish preparing the new units and install them into their semi-permanent new locations.

I am also seizing the moment to revisit library policies related to student use, especially the discretionary use of the library computer lab during student lunch and recess periods. The introduction of the new units seems as good a time as any to implement policies and procedures to maximize the efficient sharing of these resources, to promote the considerate and ethical use of these resources, and to minimize damage to the units.
I am a very lucky librarian!



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