Approaches to computer lab management
Proceedings of the 28th annual ACM SIGUCCS conference on User services Building the future - SIGUCCS '00
Basic approaches to computer lab management range along a spectrum from total lockdown of lab computers to total freedom. Total lockdown, which can be implemented with system permissions and policies as well as software such as FoolProof and OnGuard, usually means that the computers' storage devices, especially the hard drives, are restricted, preventing write access by lab users (temporary drive space is sometimes available). Lab users are not allowed to install programs or save files and need
... save files and need to go through official channels to have their programs installed. This approach is intended to minimize support issues, protect software licenses and protect the institution from unauthorized software use. The total freedom approach allows users to use the lab computer as if it were their own. The lab manager then uses a tool such as PC-Rdist, Ghost, or Assimilator to return the computer to a clean state. This can be done at regular intervals (once a day, once a week etc.), at every startup, or on an as-needed basis. In some cases, users themselves can refresh a lab computer. This approach is intended to allow students flexibility and unlimited access to the computer. Drawbacks include inconsistent computers in the labs (especially between rebuilds) and increased network usage during the rebuilding procedure. This panel will discuss both approaches from technical as well as managerial perspectives. Panelists will represent approaches ranging across the spectrum of management strategies between lockdown and freedom. The panel discussion should be helpful for attendees who support computer labs or provide desktop support.