Is Your Computer Lab ready for UNEB?

Students in the computer lab of St. Peters SSS Nsambya

When I was still computer lab technician at St. Peter’s SSS Nsambya, Third term was my most hectic term. The computers had to be always functional and in perfect state, ready for examination day.

Read also: Hardware tools every school computer lab should have

It was also during Term III that students frequented the lab to practice in preparation for their final exams. I had to sit in the lab from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm without a break because students came in at random times of the day, even those I had never seen in class.

Dumba Stephen (In T-shirt) with Nsubuga Emmanuel of Excel Education Center in a computer lab.

By the end of the day, some of the computers would be messed up and I had to work on them before the next day. Students would maliciously put passwords, uninstall programmes, make tricky alterations to the system and sometimes steal some hardware.

I have since left St. Peter’s but country wide, teachers of ICT in secondary schools are facing a similar dilemma. According to the UCE timetable of 2019, O level students will be sitting for their Computer Studies practical paper on 12th November. The UACE timetable shows 25th and 26th as the dates for the A level ICT papers II and III respectively.

What you can do

1.       Install a fresh copy of windows

Computers work best when their Operating System is fresh. The OS will only start misbehaving after some time. So, if you are still using the same OS you were using around this time last year, you better install a fresh copy. I have prepared simple step by step guide on how to install Windows 7.

Read also: How to install Windows XP

If your school uses NComputing, my guide on installing NComputing X550 on Windows 7 and another on how to make NComputing work forever will provide you with the necessary knowledge to deal with it.

Read also: How to install NComputing M300

2.       Install fresh copies of all your programmes

Endeavour to re-install all the programs used during your classes. Avoid installing versions different from the one your students are accustomed to since this can disorganize them and impact on their grades. I have also written an article on software every school computer lab should have.

3.       Defragment your had drives

As you work on your computer, files are broken up into pieces as they are placed on your hard disk. This is called fragmentation. Because you are continuously writing, deleting and resizing files on your PC, fragmentation naturally occurs therefore slowing it down.

Fragmentation also causes long boot times, random crashes, freezing and in some cases failing to start.

4.       Install a reliable antivirus

Computers, especially in a multi-user environment, are prone to viruses. These will disorganize the operating system and therefore the user. The most common problem in schools caused by viruses is the hiding of legitimate files found on flash disks. The virus will then create many shortcuts to confuse the user.

Although there are several anti viruses promise full protection, sometimes the needed solution comes from less known solutions like SMADAV. I have found out that all I need is this small tool to get rid of viruses that come through flash drives.

My article on how to protect your computer without an antivirus is the ultimate solution to viruses in a school computer lab.

5.       Secure your PC, keyboard and mouse

To avoid unnecessary loss of components like RAM, keyboards and mice, it is prudent that you use simple items to protect these valuable assets. Cable ties are a simple way to fasten your keyboards and mice to monitor while a small padlock at the rare of the system unit will protect RAM and other internal components from petty thieves. Laptops also have a laptop lock port to which you can fasten a cable like lock.

6.       Invite resource persons to offer technical help

If finances allow, you may also invite a person with experience in handling school labs to do an audit of your system and provide useful hints on how best you can handle your lab.

At some point, I have been privileged to handle such tasks in schools like Kitende SS, Trinity College, Nabbingo, Nakalama SS, St. Aloysius SS, St. Mary’s Bunamwaya to mention just a few.

Also, when you invite a facilitator, it would be wise to ask him for his view on the state of your computer lab. Because they have been to several schools, they usually have a rich experience from comparison after visiting many schools across the country.

Rogers Mukalele pauses with students after a facilitation at St. Mark College Namagoma.

Stephen Dumba
E-zone School of Computing
+256 752 111 223 / +256 772 111 223