Friday, November 19, 2010

Computer Lab Handbook

This year I'm working hard to document what I've been doing in the lab and around the building to keep the Apples and Windows XP tablets in working order. So many times I'll catch myself trying to remember it all and drawing a blank for a bit so I've started a Computer Lab Handbook.

Keeping Track of IP Addresses
One of the biggest hassles is that over time the IP addresses had gotten out of control. We have under 200 devices, but over the years there have been IP address issues. This summer, our tech support company took a look at our main router and changed the IP address system to give out all address. Since we were only distributing a limited number of IP addresses I started getting many conflicts as we have more Internet capable machines than ever before. Some machines are running DHCP, others have static addresses. An IP address consists of four digits separated by periods. For example, Address is reserved for the router. You can assign numbers from 0 to 255.

If a device is going to be accessed by multiple devices, it is better to have a static (unchanging) address. For instance, the file servers have always had static IP addresses. When the wireless internet routers were installed, they were given DHCP addresses. When a device uses DHCP the address may change from time to time. The printers were a mix of DHCP and static addresses.

I've been slowly going through all the routers and printers and assigning addresses backwards from 255. As a result, I am finding it easier to set up printers with the OS 9 Apples. I was having a really hard time getting the tablet PCs to connect to any printer in the building wirelessly. Now that there are static addresses I am going to be able to have the tablets print without a USB cable for the first time in three years.

Start of the Year Tasks
I do not have disk cloning software, so everything I do is a very manual step-by-step machine-by-machine process. I remove documents from the hard drives in the lab and on the tablets. I empty the download folders and remove names from Kid Pix and game software. We run several Renaissance Learning programs: Accelerated Reader, Accelerated Math, STAR Early Literacy, and Math Facts in a Flash. I update the school year information, promote students, add new students, update class lists, and remove students. The machines need to have software updates applied.

I perform all these tasks from memory, but if someone else ever needed to do it on their own it would be difficult at best. 

If you'd like to take a look at the document in progress, let me know. I'd be happy to share a copy with you.

Image Citation:
Ann Oro


  1. Good idea Ann. I need to put something more formal together. I too do everything manually and every year I find I forget something so writing it down would be a great idea. I'd love to see your document!

  2. Vicky, I sent a copy to your gmail account. Good luck with your own document.

  3. That's a great idea! As a first year technology coordinator in my school (and the first time we've had one) I am constantly learning as I go. I have been using evernote to create a day by day list of what got done during the day. I'd love to see your document.

  4. Chris, the document has been really helpful. I haven't started using Evernote. It might be a great way for me to keep up with the details. I'll send you a copy of my file.