This week several members of the tech team are at the High School receiving training on a set of software tools collectively know as the “Casper” suite. Casper is a sophisticated tool designed to make the process of computer setup and software maintenance much easier for technical staff.
So what does it take to prepare a computer for the classroom? Let’s say that you have hundreds of new computers rolling in the door as part of a grant (hmm, Classrooms for the Future anyone?) In the old days a tech would manually uninstall the software the district wouldn’t be using, install the software we needed, setup items like printers and preferences, attach the computer to the network, install software updates for both OS X and individual applications like Microsoft Office, add the computer to inventory and generally prepare the machine for staff or student use. Normally this process isn’t too big of a deal for one machine, but amplify it times 500 units and you have a massive amount of repetitive work.
Here’s where a tool like Casper steps in to make life less repetitive and more efficient. Casper allows the techs to build installation packages that may be remotely installed to large numbers of computers from one central server. Think of it as a giant digital cookie cutter that can make numerous computer copies from one central, master “shape”.
Computer rollouts are also typically defined by a number of variables such as the OS version, the type of CPU in the remote computer and lots of other building, lab or classroom specific program settings that add up to make installation a rather intricate decision tree. The great part about Casper is that a tech may setup these variables one time and then copy the setting bundles out to lots of machines via the network- no physical trip to the computer is required.
Casper be will be utilized to prep the High School Classrooms for the Future Macbooks along with the setup and management of the Middle School Mac labs. Additionally, we foresee the use of Casper as a tool to help better maintain the elementary iBooks.
See- that wasn’t scary at all!