Philadelphia FIGHT (FIGHT) is a non-profit organization designed to improve the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. FIGHT provides primary care, consumer education, advocacy, and research. An important component of FIGHT is the Critical Path Project, which enables low income people of all ages to gain digital literacy and learn how to access essential health information on the Internet. Ensuring all communities have access to the Internet is a key step in FIGHT’s mission to end the AIDS epidemic.
As of 2010, FIGHT’s Critical Path Project has embarked on a mission to create 27 Public Computer Centers with the purpose of providing digital literacy to more than 2900 people in the most vulnerable neighborhoods of North, South, and West Philadelphia. The Critical Path Team is setting up 27 centers to fulfill its overarching objective of providing free and convenient Internet access for everyone. Within each center there are six to twenty machines available for public use. In conjunction with the Freedom Rings Partnership Project, there will be 77 Public Computer Centers built in total resulting in more than 850 workstations available across the city
Managing groups of workstations located across 27 Public Computer Centers distributed throughout the community would be challenging even for a large team of technicians. In this case, Critical Path has only a very small Information Technology staff to manage all of the machines across all these centers, and that includes handling updates, maintenance, software, and fixing machines infected with malware. The volume of support tickets would simply be unmanageable for a team of this size, especially when accounting for travel time to and from each center.
For the Critical Path Team, the answer was Faronics Deep Freeze Enterprise. To date, FIGHT has installed Deep Freeze on 241 workstations and is currently in the midst of installing on the remaining 51 workstations. In addition, they have also selected Faronics WINSelect Server Edition to offer them advanced control and security features over their public computing environment. Deep Freeze helps to maintain machines in their intended state and virus free, without worrying about users downloading undesired software that would slow processing down and could ultimately reduce the lifespan of their machines. Keeping hard and soft expenses low is a major advantage given that FIGHT is funded primarily through grants and donations.
Oklahoma City University is a coeducational, urban private university located in Oklahoma City. The university offers a wide variety of degrees in the liberal arts and sciences disciplines, and is the only Oklahoma institution listed in the top tier of the regional, master’s-level university category by U.S. News and World Report magazine. It is also listed in America’s Best Christian Colleges & 100 Best College Buys.
The university has more than 2,100 undergraduate students and 1,700 graduate students. Helping these students reach their academic goals are 550 faculty and staff members, of which 20 are IT personnel. “We have a total of 251 public computers spread across 16 computer labs,” says Ernesto Chávez, Manager of Instructional Technologies and Media Services at Oklahoma City University. “We also have 82 computers located in classrooms.” As the Manager of Instructional Technologies, it is Ernesto and his team’s responsibility to ensure the classroom and computer lab workstations are kept up and running for student and faculty use.
Like many educational institutions, Oklahoma City University invested a significant amount of money into ensuring students had access to the latest computer technology and software. But many of the staff felt that merely placing a computer in front of a student does not necessarily lead to an enhanced and more effective learning environment. In fact, computers often served as a distraction to students in the classroom since they could easily be tempted away from classroom activities by distractions such as games, instant messaging, or the Internet.
“We recognized that placing computers into the classroom was a great way to connect students with the outside world, but it did little to connect students with each other or to the instructor. There was no way for our instructors to communicate with our students in the classroom other than visiting each computer station,” says Mr. Chávez.
The Solution They Found
Ernesto and his team started looking for a better way to do things and came across Faronics Insight, a centralized instructor management software that empowers instructors with total control of classroom computers and student attention. He says, “We’ve been using Faronics Deep Freeze to keep our computers running trouble-free for a couple of years now, and love it.” Faronics Deep Freeze has virtually eliminated workstation damage and downtime at Oklahoma City University by making their computer configurations indestructible. Any changes made to the computers by students are never permanent, which means computers always startup in the clean and fully-functional state that they were deployed in.