Veyon – Monitor Students Computer Activity

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The Veyon Logo

Veyon is open source and offers a collection of applications that allows teachers to monitor students’ computer activity. This is done from the teacher’s computer. This makes it easier to check on your students’ activities and not to have to rely on the tell-tale signs of giggling or the student who constantly looks to see if you’re paying attention. Let’s take a look at Veyon.

Ease of Configuration

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The Veyon configuration window

Upon installation, users can run the configuration component right from their main menu.  This component employs an interface that is approachable.  Before entering this phase, I would recommend having all of the information regarding your computer, the network to which its connected and the computers students will be using.  From here, users can set up Veyon and its components, or modules, as needed.  Looking at the screenshot, the categories for configuration can be seen on the left.  A few items of note are Authentication, where the administrator account and password are configured, Rooms & computers where computers and rooms covered by the current installation are set up, and Rooms & computers, where rooms and computers to be covered  by Veyon are created.

One-stop Control with Veyon Master

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The Veyon Master window

Veyon Master is the module from which the educator works.  It offers a user-friendly interface, predominantly via the horizontal panel of buttons at the top of the screen and tabs at the bottom of the screen  for additional functionality.  From here, an educator has complete control over those connected via Veyon Services, the student component of Veyon.  Looking at the screenshot at right gives an idea of what can be accomplished through Veyon Master.  Teachers can use Remote View to see what is on students’ screens currently.  Remotely, teachers can lock all computers to regain student attention.  Teachers can use Window demo to share an open window on their computers with students.  Educators can even take remote screenshots of students’ computers.  The default mode, Monitoring, allows teachers to just monitor student computers.  Computers in the network can also be simultaneously and remotely turned on, powered down and rebooted.  Teachers can even send individual text messages to students through Veyon.

Backwards Compatibility with LDAP/AD Support

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Authentication is always required for teacher logons.

Some readers may be thinking “Well, this is great, but will I still be able to use files on our LDAP/ActiveDirectory server from our previous system?”  (For those not in the know, this is the format used by earlier computer management software.)  The good news is that the answer is “Yes, you can!”  To utilize these files, simply configure the LDAP module.  From that point on, Veyon will automatically update computer and room data.

Conclusion

I’ve only touched on a few of its features here and I recommend you experience it for yourself.  Veyon offers everything teachers need to control their students’ online learning experiences.   With this application in place, supervising these activities becomes easier and can free teachers up to work with students who may need additional support or to observe student performance, among other things.  It will definitely make it easier to teach.  Veyon is available for Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems.

Resources

Veyon Web Site

Veyon Administrator Manual

References

Junghans, T.  (2018).  Veyon [computer software].  GNU General Public License.

Junghans, T.  (12 August 2018).  Veyon administrator manual.  GNU General Public License.  Retrieved from https://media.readthedocs.org/pdf/veyon-admin-manual/latest/veyon-admin-manual.pdf.

Window Maker in the Primary Classroom

So what is Window Maker and why would you use it in a primary classroom?  Window Maker is a window manager (graphical interface) for Linux/UNIX operating systems.  Its most distinctive feature would have to be the dock.  This is a place where dock apps and quick launches for frequently used programs reside.  The dock first appeared in the interface for the NeXTSTEP operating system.  It has since been adopted by Apple for its MacOS interface, among others.

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The author’s Window Maker desktop

That leaves us with the question of why use Window Maker in the primary classroom?  The Window Maker dock supports dock apps, which provide information about the computer system upon which it’s running and about the world around us.  It is this latter type of dock app that is the focus of this article.  Using these apps and a projector, teachers can do a daily almanac with their students.

Looking at the screenshot of my Window Maker desktop, we can see that I’ve placed my dock on the left-hand side of the desktop.  The topmost tile is the GNUstep icon (GNUstep is a project of which Window Maker is a part, designed to regulate and promote open source window managers that employ this style of interface). window maker,energize education thrugh open source

The next icon launches a terminal emulator.  Below this is the WPrefs tool for configuring Window Maker.  Now we get to the informative dock apps.  Wmakerclock provides us with day, date and time (time can be displayed in either 12- or 24-hour mode).  Wimmoonclock provides information about the current phase of the moon.  Wmweather+ provides graphical information about the current weather conditions according to a local weather station.  Wmsun displays the times at which the sun rises and sets for the given day.

window maker,christopher whittumWmbubble provides graphical information about CPU and memory usage.  Wmwork tracks time spent on projects.  Below this are two wmdrawers that scroll sideways, providing additional space on the dock.  Lastly, wmshutdown provides a convenient way for shutting down/rebooting the system.

window maker,energize educationSo, how would I use the Window Maker dock in my primary classroom?  If your computer is connected to a SMART board or Smoothboard, it’s easy.  Start the day with wmclock, so everyone knows what the day and date are.  Write the day and date on the board.  Moving down, you can integrate earth/space science into your class with wmmoonclock, noting the current phase of the moon and possibly recording this data as well.  Then, move down to wmweather+ for a look at the current weather.  Students could even compare the weather presented here with what they see themselves.  Be sure to record this data, on an electronic spreadsheet perhaps, for graphing activities.  Finally, we look at wmsun to find out when the sun rises and sets for the day.  Likewise, this data should be recorded as it could be used in activities involving the seasons, as well as earth/space science  To add to student engagement, you could have a rotation allowing each student an opportunity to do the almanac.

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Wmagnify running in Window Maker

To enhance visibility, I’d recommend running wmagnify, a magnification program that, in spite of its name, is unrelated to Window Maker.  This will open a small window within which whatever is under the mouse pointer will appear magnified.  This is especially useful for wmmoonclock which provides information about the moon’s orbit with a click, but which utilizes such small type that it’s hard to read.

There are a large number of dock apps available, so I invite you to do some exploring.  Some do similar things to those we’ve discussed, but offer a different take on what they do graphically.  I’ve given you a start.  Now you can begin the school year with a daily Window Maker almanac.  I’m anxious to hear from readers regarding what they did with this idea, so feel free to contact me.

Resources

Window Maker Web Site

Window Maker Dock Apps Archive

The Window Maker theme, Cottage, seen in the screenshots is available here.

References

Window Maker Development Team.  (2014).  Window Maker [computer software].  GNU General Public License.

Vogt, M.  (2012).  Synaptic package manager.  GNU General Public License.