Computer Lab for a Family Discovery Day

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Computer Lab for a Family Discovery Day

Postby justincy » Thu May 07, 2015 12:45 pm

Our stake is going to host a Family Discovery Day. FamilySearch strongly recommends setting up a computer lab so that people can get hands-on experience using FamilySearch during the fair. Their Technology Guidelines state, on the bottom of page 4 at the end of heading 4:

e. Gather computers for the lab from members who are willing to provide a computer or laptop for the
• Consider leaving some of the Ethernet cables open for people who bring their own laptop to the
event. You may also encourage your attendees to bring their own laptops.
• The Family History Department of the Church is unable to supply computers for the events at this

In my opinion, that's very wishful thinking. I feel like it would be a lot of work to get 10 computers loaned, and even more work to manage them all. You have to:

* Find 10 people willing to loan them
* Pick them up
* Keep the computers safe for the time you have them
* Setup a separate user account with restricted privileges so that you don't have to worry about anything malicious being done during the fair
* Make sure you return the proper computer to the right person

And even then, 10 computers likely isn't going to be enough.

Am I blowing this out of proportion? Are there better alternatives?

Perhaps we encourage members to bring their own device (laptop or tablet) and borrow 5-10 computers from members for those attendees that don't have a device.

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Re: Computer Lab for a Family Discovery Day

Postby lmcguire » Fri May 08, 2015 9:59 am

IMO, these things are hard because people try to pull them off in too short a time. If the time is planned several months in advance (at least 3, preferably 6), and enough people are committed to the activity (whether or not they get released in the meantime!), it should be do-able. Start with a detailed listing of the tasks, then tackle the most difficult problems first, and don't procrastinate (it doesn't hurt anything if the equipment is purchased early; nor will it hurt if the training outline is done well ahead of time; etc.). Since the unforeseen will always happen, getting the known done well ahead leaves time for the unforeseen to be handled without causing a panic.

Also, rather than providing computers, I would provide "stations" - a network cable for each, an outlet or two for each, and invite people to bring laptops - named people, who will commit to bringing a laptop. Then pair up those who don't have portable equipment with those who do - two people per computer (for example). Ask these people to come an hour early, so everything is set up ahead of time.

Also ask if anyone is willing to bring extra equipment (some people have their old laptop sitting around and it's likely good enough for and the indexing app). In an entire stake, I'd bet you wouldn't need to buy switches.

Make these requests long in advance (with two reminders for the volunteers as the event nears). Announce the event at least 7 times - whether that means each week for 7 weeks before the event, or whatever. (7 times seems to be a magical number.) I would announce it as soon as the date is decided (3-6 months ahead) and explicitly ask people to block the day on their calendar and contact a specific person in their ward by a specified date if they're interested in helping (either with family history or with technology).

Finally, if you're going to allow tablets/phones, keep in mind that while web stuff can be done on tablets, tablets don't have a network jack. I would look into providing a temporary wireless network, connected to one of the switches and have someone whose job it is to make sure nothing with a network jack has wireless enabled; and perhaps to make sure all devices (phones) which will not be used for the class have wireless disabled for the duration (if you're going to have wireless at all). If you're not going to offer wireless, change the password or turn it off or something, cuz it WILL use the internet connection the wires are using, and if not disabled, people's devices will use it automatically and for things which don't contribute to the event.

I'd think the hardest part of the event would be a big enough internet pipe. Maybe people who have hotspots could bring and use them instead of the wired network... (A network geek could give you advice here - surely there's someone in the stake who does this professionally.)

I'm sure there's more, but you get the idea.


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