Monitoring the Classroom Computer: Monitoring Software

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One of the ways to monitor your classroom computer usage is with the help of a monitoring software. A good monitoring software program will capture all activity on a computer through a variety of means. Prices range from free to over $100 with the more effective ones charging a fee for the program.

Monitoring services generally include 1-2 years of upgrades (enhanced features or technical “bug” fixes) to newer versions before a fee is charged to upgrade. It is, however, not critical to keep these programs up-to-date as they only monitor and log activities.

A monitoring software is an effective way to keep track of and check on what those that are using your classroom computer are doing. A good monitoring program will allow users to do the following.

  • Set up user accounts which allow the administrator to control the level or types of activity that will be monitored.
  • Completely block Internet access to individual users or during particular times of the day.
  • Capture screen shots at regular intervals for reply by the primary user.
  • Capture all email, inbound and outbound.
  • Capture and log all chat, instant message, Internet and program (what programs are being run) activity.
  • Capture and log all keystrokes, uploads and downloads.
  • Operate in an optional stealth mode.
  • Set up a keyword alert that will send an email to the primary user when a particular word or website is accessed.
  • Operate with no impact on the host computers performance.
  • Be easy to set-up and use.

An important consideration when using monitoring software is whether or not to operate in a stealth mode. Privacy issues and boundaries should not be taken lightly. It is good internet policy to include a monitoring program in Internet safety discussions. Tell everyone that it will be on the computer and share plans for reviewing the material it captures. Random and occasional checking is an effective practice and presents a good look at what children are doing online.

How do you monitor what the children access on the computer in your classroom? Do share your ideas.

From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Internet Safety: Protecting Children in an Online World

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