Simplify the kids' computer experience
July 5, 2012 12:13 PM Subscribe
I want to make an elementary school computer lab just work
, magically if possible. I am Windows deficient and could use guidance.
posted by argybarg to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This fall, I start working with kids and teachers in an elementary school on technology. I'll be taking kids to the computer lab to work on projects, running class sessions, coaching teachers on using the lab, and so on.
Our computer lab is a pretty standard room full of Windows 7 workstations. There is no full-time administrator, but some helpful guys work on the servers and maintaining the software and so on.
As it stands, to get a room full of 7-year-olds going on a project on the computer is a tortuous process. They have to log in, fire up Chrome, type in a URL ... and there goes 10 minutes of teaching time.
This is my dream: A teacher walks over the administrators' computer, logs in with her name and declares her students are here to work on x. Then all the lab's machines wake up and load up a web page or fire up Word or whatever they're supposed to do. The students just find their own pictures or names on the workstation, click a button saying they're here, and away they go.
I have some hacking skills in Python and Django and the *nix command line and so on. I think I could fire off a query to the data model and receive, in return, JSON or other serialized text to send to each workstation.
The question is: What will get the machines to wake up and do what they're told? There are lots of (proprietary) tools to let the lab admin take over the computers via VPN. But I don't want the administrator to have to drive each computer. I want the admin's computer to message the workstations via some compact script, and the client workstations carry out the script.
I expect to present this idea to the IT guys, and I have to assume they'll say "we can't do that." (They're nice guys, really, but they're busy.) If I can outline the technologies involved and offer to do a lot of the backend, I may be able to persuade them. Or if it's fairly simple, I might be able to take it on on my own.
So: Is this doable?