What is it?
It’s an open source piece of lab management software.
I wanted it the minute I heard of it. Sometimes getting the attention of 18 Grade 5 students who are in the middle of an activity is a momentous task. iTalc allows you to lock all the screens for some further instruction or discussion time. It also should allow you to logon/logout all of the users at once, turn on and off all computers.
What’s it really like?
Meh, it’s good to have it but I have not used it as much as I thought I would. You still have to teach! You still rely on your own classroom management skills primarily. The students learn to know that if they do not pay attention they will get the PADLOCK OF DEATH! Turning on all computers has not worked for me even though the Turnon on LAN is ON in the BIOS. Logging out and turning off has worked. Sometimes one or two computers will not lock the screen; I really don’t know why.
If you work in a lab; get it. Nothing to lose. It can reinforce traditional rules and can help regular rule breakers to get the point when they are locked out a few times (actually one of my constant rule breakers needed only one locked out session, I could have just told him to sit back but having the padlock on the screen is a nice mental image to keep!).