Put to the Test: Insight from Faronics

2/21/2009 7:50:00 AM
Using Faronics Insight, a teacher has total control over the computing environment.  She can turn the computers on and off remotely and share her screen with students (either in a full screen mode, or as a window to have the student work along with them).  The teacher also has the ability the use the screen as an interactive whiteboard by drawing on her screen and displaying it to all the students. She can
lock the students' keyboards and mice and screens so they are not distracted when the instructor is talking. She can get the students’ attention by sending a customized flashing message to the students’ screens. The instructor can communicate with the student via instant messaging and the student can ask questions of the instructor in the same manner.  The teacher can also transfer files to and from student computers to their network drive.  Teachers also have the ability to load specific applications or web sites on all student computers at one time or block application or websites from student computers. Instructors can also create application lists and save them for specific classes. They can also limit access to printers and USB drives. Insight has the ability to track student responses to yes/no and multiple choice questions so it can take the place of a student response system (clicker or remote control system). Teachers can also distribute tests electronically with Insight.  All activity within Insight is logged and the console is password-protected. In addition, a teacher can view and record a list of all applications running on a student’s computer and take a snapshot of a student’s screen.

Pros: Easy to use and very intuitive. Insight also works on Windows 2003 Terminal Server and NComputing. Teacher's screen can either be full screen or a window on the student's screen. Students can switch to other teacher's rooms without restarting. Teachers can view up to 256 computers at one time and can turn on computers remotely.

Con:  None, when used as a computer lab management software. It would benefit by adding remote control of servers as a module of the classroom management software.

Overall Impression: Insight is a good computer lab management tool. It is as good as if not a little better than most of the others on the market.

Retail price:  $599/classroom  (includes first year of maintenance)

-- Joe Huber

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