Our students are required to have their own portable firewire drive that holds all of their data. Or systems are setup so that their user directory resides on the external drive as well. That way they can log onto any computer and have the same experience... all of their data and settings are there.
If a student wants to work on the catalog and images on their own computer you tend to get permissions issues since they are typically not the same "user" on their home system as they are when logged into the university system. This can be cured by applying an ACL (this is on Macs... probably need something similar on Windows) to the top level folder that holds their data such that any new file added automatically gets rwx privs for everyone. Do that once and they can then edit away on any system without problems.
I'm not sure if the problems some of the students have experienced going from home computers to school computers are permissions issues or something else. I had thought it may be improperly formatted hard drives. I will talk to our IT guy and see what he thinks. ...
One of our problems (of a different nature) last week was a few students creating a catalogue in LR3 at school and trying to use it in LR2 at home. Apparently they get an error stating "file is too new" or something of that nature.
The first sessions of the first Lightroom based class spend a LOT of time going over and over the process of storing data and building a catalog correctly. Many of the principles come right out of the DAM Book. Most important is to get all of the students using the same strategy regarding directory structure, naming conventions, basic metadata and so forth. They are required to setup and build a catalog over and over and are graded on the accuracy of this structure before moving onto the creative assignments. Having all of the students working in a similar organizational style makes it much easier to troubleshoot problems that inevitably arise.
I think part of the problem is deciding how much to change a basic Photo 1 curriculum. The other problem is we have 6 Photo 1 classes, and three new instructors who are unfamiliar with LR. There hasn't been a consistent organizational style, and it's pretty clear one is going to be required. I sure like the idea of being graded on making and understanding a catalog and knowing the location of both catalog and files.
The biggest problem I see in the labs is that many students seem to have little clue about where their data is actually going when they hit the "save" button in any application. I can't tell you how many times I'll ask a student where they just put some file and I get this glassy eyed stare. Really hammering home an understanding of data storage structure before you get too involved in other things helps tremendously.
We're getting a lot of that glassy eyed stare, as well! It is very easy to create a catalog and send it to the default folder without knowing you ever made one. We have found many LR catalogues in the My Pictures folder of the school's Macs. Students then open LR from the task bar and are surprised to find other pictures in "their" library. I think this was straightened out last week, but there will be a lot of cleanup to do as far as reorganizing their work to date. It may be easier for classes and instructors to start over. My responsibility is to train our classroom assistants to help with this process, now that there is some consensus as to a more organized workflow.
One of the things the basic workflow requires is a metadata template with basic user information that gets applied to each file. And one of the things in that template is the course number of the class as a keyword. They may then add another keyword for images for a particular assignment. That, along with proper file naming structure makes it easy for the instructor to sort the students work.
This is a great idea, I think. (adding course numbers) I will bring up that suggestion tomorrow.
We have a bit of shared space on a server that the students can use to backup their hard drive. We teach the use of Chronosync for that so that students have to learn to manage their own backups. This same shared space also has drop boxes for the instructor where students can turn in work. In the Lightroom based classes the students are often asked to export a catalog that contains work on a given assignment and turn that exported catalog in for grading.
The Photography students share the server with Graphic Design and Video classes, so there isn't enough space to backup files. That would be a great asset, though. We also use classroom drop boxes to turn in work. One instructor who taught with LR last year (and developed the organizational method I mentioned above) also had students export catalogs for grading. The only downside to this, as far as I can see, is that she then needed 1:1 previews built on import to keep things simple but still be able to zoom in on images.
hope that helps...
Thanks, it helps a lot. I was hoping to hear from another school who has experienced some of these difficulties. I appreciate your taking the time to explain.