Over the course of the next couple of days at my school we are requiring that all students in the 1:1 laptop program permanently change their computer settings.  As a school we are going to require that each and every student in the 7th and 8th grade have their Remote Login and Remote Management boxes checked under their system preferences on their computers.

Required Student Settings

This will enable us as a school to better monitor student activity and help guide appropriate student behavior while the students are on campus through Apple Remote Desktop.  They have been informed: If a student changes their settings it will be considered a discipline issue.

You see, we gave our students administrative rights to their machines.  With administrative rights, the students can install programs they may need, update their software on their own (so very important), and really make this dynamic learning tool their own.

We are in our second month of our 1:1 laptop program and it’s going very well.  Teachers are modifying the way they teach and following many of the recommendations they received during their Out in Shanghai days training.   And as Jason Ohler found in his most recent research, the student engagement in educational activities is through the roof.  Quite frankly, students don’t have time to get into trouble with their computers while in the classrooms.

So why are we as a school doing this?  I am still trying to come up to the answer to this question and I’ll diligently gather my research over the coming months.  The jury is still out for me though.  I don’t want this to be a “gotcha” program because I think that without student input it could erode the positive culture and relationship that currently exists between teachers and students.  However, I am not ignorant and I know that there is always one… one student that cyber-bullies another without an adult knowing about it… one student that secretly chats with a friend back home on Facebook while she should be working on her talking worksheet in science class… one student that skips lunch to play Halo on a regular basis, avoiding conversation with friends and exercise for the soul.


5 Comments to “Apple Remote Desktop – A Good Thing?”

  1. Bruce says:

    Hey Amanda, great topic. At Korea Int School (KIS) we also implemented ARD throughout the MS and HS this year where most teachers have ARD installed on their school issued MacBooks. We to are 1:1 and after a few years of expansion are 1:1 G6-12. An attempt to deploy ARD was met with much difficulty last year as they were not prepared to do so effectively, as a result kids found all kinds of ways around it and used it to access each others computers, etc. I was not hear last year but from all reports it was a nightmare.

    This year we were a little older and wiser and made sure we installed things properly on the student image. We installed a remote administrator and the proper settings are hidden so that even if the students deselect Remote Management their computers can still be accessed.

    As you have done we have tried to prepare students for this by telling them what ARD is and how it will be used. Teachers have conversations with students, as it was being rolled out, about the importance of being on task, how easily they can be distracted with applications, etc. It will only be used by teachers to monitor students in their current class as not to invade their sense of privacy. However, admin reserve the right to do random searches. The expectation are that students while on campus will be running the Mac OS (some of our students have installed windows too), they are not to mess with the settings to avoid detection or it becomes a discipline issue.

    When training the teachers how to use ARD we tried to emphasis educational and more positive uses of ARD. One example I suggested was to project all student desktops on the screen while doing individual work so the teacher can roam around the room helping students and quickly see what students are doing with a quick glance up at the screen. Now this might sound like a form of policing, and I will agree it is, but you can turn it around to be a teaching moment by saying students can see what each other is doing and possibly get ideas. Or a teacher may notice that one student is doing something particularly interesting or well and draw attention to it with the class, enlarge that students desktop on the screen and ask the student to explain or demonstrate what they are doing. Here you are praising good behavior, students are sharing, and a student becomes the teacher. This is just one way for teachers to use ARD in a positive way instead of a negative policing way. Our teachers are coming up with more and more creative ways to use ARD positively each week.

    Things have gone much smoother this year and we are seeing a much better reaction to ARD by both teachers and students. We have had little issues here and there but overall it has been a much smoother and positive experience.

    I am looking forward to hearing ways you and your teachers use ARD. I know you are doing good things in Shanghai.


  2. I’ve used ARD for 8 years from a technicians view it is the 1 indispensable tool I have. Its not as much about monitoring as it is about the fact that administration can. Once students learned that there activities can be monitored 99.5% of the AUP violations stopped.
    The other big benefit is the push factor, if I need to install a program on 100 computers ARD can be used. I installed iWork 09 on 50 computers in 20 minutes. I can also inventory computers to see what hardware and software is installed. well thats my 2¥ worth.

  3. Dr. Brown says:

    My students and I are really enjoying it. Super easy for me to zap files right to their desktops. We zoom in on certain screens to share what others have found. Like so many things, I think it is all in the delivery and the way your classroom is structured. So far my kids seem to enjoy the tool right along with me. Thanks for the chance to try it out!

  4. Hi Amanda,

    This is a really good post. I had a very similar experience at my current school in Singapore and wrote a post about this a few months back. http://wp.me/p149lR-3D Still not sure on the verdict and I still prefer to be in classes seeing what is happening.

    I read your blog after the Leadership Workshop in Singapore last week. I enjoyed your sustainable PD session and came away with lots of good ideas for the future.

    Thanks Andrew.