Managing Online Computer Labs

Managing Online Computer Labs

Lee Chao (University of Houston-Victoria, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-507-8.ch010
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To keep an online computer lab fully operational is critical to the success of teaching online technology-based courses. Unlike a general purpose computer lab where heavy security measures are used to prevent users from damaging computer systems and network equipments, an online computer lab for teaching a technology-based course must release some of the security measures so that students can practice and perform an administrator’s duty. That is, students and faculty members must be given the administrator’s privilege to the computers and network equipments dedicated to them. For many students, this is the first time that they are the administrators of network servers. You can expect that there will be many unintentional mistakes while performing the administrator’s duty. Students will need help from the lab management team or the technical support personnel in the team to fix their problems and keep the hands-on process going. Some severe mistakes may cause a system to shut down and unable to be rebooted. In such a case, the lab management team will need to help the students to reinstall the entire system. Once upgrades to the operating system and application software are available, the lab management team will also need to install these upgrades in the lab. The content of a technology-based course will follow the change of technology on the market. Often, instructors will update the course content for each semester. These updates need to be done by the lab management team before a semester starts. Technical training is another task that will be carried out by the lab management team. Security related issues are also important matter should be dealt with by the lab management team. As we can see, the online computer lab maintenance tasks will keep the lab management team busy all year round. Since the security issues have been covered in a separate chapter, this chapter will focus on the maintenance tasks other than the security related tasks.

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