Student Work Kiosks
April 30, 2009
I've been working on converting old computers into digital photo frames. Several of my co-workers have dubbed the project, "Student Work Kiosk"
This is the oldest computer and the simpliest:
It's an old Compaq Preserio, runs Windows ME, and has no network card. I do have a couple of USB devices I could use for networking, but why bother? Plugging this puppy in is against district rules. The lowest row of keyboard keys no longer work. The touchpad works fine, as does the display and the USB. Personally, I think it serves a better purpose here than in a landfill, especially if it keeps me from buying a digital photo frame,
The plan: I have it on a file cabinet facing the hall and will have it display things like my seating charts, my name, and other information students need coming into the room. I am using TechSmith's SnagIt to make the various items and outputing them at the same resolution as the screen. This computer will probably also display student work.
Right now, I'm loving being able to post things like "SERVER IS DOWN!"
It is a simple process to pull the thumb drive, put it into another computer, upload the files and plug it back in, especially since it's near the door.
The next oldest computer:
This is a district issued laptop -- given to us on the first distibution so it can be put on the school network.
It has Windows XP, everthing works on it, and it's extremely slow. I've created a dummy student account for it, so I can add files to it as I go.
I've installed Tight VNC so I do not have to physically touch it to accomplish things with it.
I have installed VLC media player so that I can play movies on it. When I am grading and I come across student work I like, I use TechSmith's Camtasia to record the program. I place the file in my Video directory of the Student Account and it will be picked up automatically. I also decided after I took these pictures that the display is too small but since I have an extra LCD display, I'll be putting that up there.
So this machine is truly a student work kiosk. Again, I like this idea better than a digital photo frame, plus it displays vidoes and most don't. I also like the idea better than filling up either a landfill or my closet.
I have also done the same tasks with my old teacher workstation.
This is sitting on a file cabinet also. Process and software identical to the laptop.
The final Student Work Kiosk is our testing server, only though we use it for a few days each year, they want it up and running most of the time. Probably so we don't lose our IP address:
I also installed Tight VNC on this computer but since it is the testing server, I am only displaying screen shots. I am using TechSmith's Snagit to create the screen shots and I am saving them again. on the Novell server, on a dummy student account. I am using the built-in Screen Saver "MyPhotos" to cycle through the screen shots, and use the Novell server to store the screen shots in.
So links to the software used:
Tight VNC is at http://www.tightvnc.com/ and is free and open source.
VLC Media Player is at http://www.videolan.org/vlc/ and is free and open source.
SnagIt for screen shots and Camstasia for movies are both at http://www.techsmith.com, available with educational discounts.
It probably isn't more "green" then printing out student work, but computer programs, especially Windows applications, make no sense, printed out on paper.
It's also a good way to repurpose old equipment -- or in the case of the testing server -- making it do something purposeful when it has to be up and running anyway.