I have a classroom of 24 student computers, and I will be installing GenevaLogic's Vision Software, so that I can direct instruction and monitor the students. Unfortunately, my district's technical people have put it back on me to prove that the software will work, but not screw up the network for the whole school.

Please, if anyone in this group has used this software, reply to this message, and I PROMISE that I'll only rely on your experience in an emergency. It also might be several weeks from now that I would need any help.

I'm out here on this limb all alone, and I know that the techs are just waiting for this project to fail, so that they can prevent any other new software from being installed on student computers.

Tags: computer, labs

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My tech people installed it in my lab this year. There were a few clitches at the beginning - but it didn't affect the school network - just didn't work exactly right (now it is). I wasn't involved in the process at all but I have a great working relationship with my tech people and I am sure they wouldn't mind answering a few questions here and there. Btw, Vision is great. I especially like using the DEMO mode which converts all screens to show my screen and after I am done demonstrating something (keep it short!) I release the demo and let 'em rip. I don't use the monitor feature as much as I thought I would. I'm too busy going from machine to machine helping kids to really sit and monitor - but when I have used it - it is effective.
I use this program in my lab of 20 computers, and in the adjacent lab of 28. It's great for the demo mode - I rarely use my projector at all anymore.

A few hints/tips for installing the software so that it doesn't bog down anything... and this is from trial and error - may not be necessarily accurate:

First, make sure that your network is fast. 10mbps ethernet cards or 802.11b wireless cards will work, but they will lag in a major way. I highly recommend using at least 100-base cards and wireless 802.11g if possible. The shorter the distance between computers, the faster. In other words if you had a switch in the classroom that all of your computers hooked up to - your signal wouldn't need to travel all the way to the closet down the hall before returning to your room again. I've always said that good labs should have a dedicated switch with a fiber uplink to the main closet... but that's $$$

Second, hide the icons on the client computers. Otherwise the students will figure out how to "cancel" the demo or screen blanking... and that just really creates havoc. Make sure the computers are configured with limited accounts for students, as giving them access to certain things will allow them to essentially uninstall the program... or maybe it's only me who has those mischievous kids.

I enjoy the fact that I can "blank the screens" when I'm talking, so that the students aren't distracted by anything on their screen. I can "chat" with them (although I am not a big fan of the user interface... at all) and I can purchase the "pointer", "app control", or "surf lock" add-ons if I so chose. My school refuses to buy them so I cannot comment on their usefulness.

Unfortunately video in high-quality mode is often quite choppy, sound is not transferred to client computers (so have a good pair of speakers on the master computer for demos), and there are still a few buggy things that happen every now or then.

Kids learn to behave themselves if they know someone might be watching. I show them on the first day that I can watch what they do... where they go... and if I wanted to I could take a picture of a screen and print it out for the principal. That gets all of my 8th graders to steer clear of district/state/NCLB-banned sites such as message boards, chats, email, etc. Gotta respect E-Rate, right? :(



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