Download PDF: KB0214
SoftLINK provides teachers with the ability to monitor and interact with their students’ Google Chromebooks in the classroom. The installation process involves completing each of the steps below.
- Install SoftLINK Name & Connectivity Server
The SoftLINK Name & Connectivity Server (NCS) must be installed on a Windows based server that has a static IP address. For small groups of devices (20 or less Chromebooks), the NCS can run on a Windows workstation, even the teacher’s device.
- Install Teacher Component
The SoftLINK Tutor interface must be installed on the teacher’s monitoring device. A teacher can use either a Windows based computer or a Chromebook to monitor the student devices. Regardless of the monitoring device, the Name & Connectivity Server is required.
- Install Student Component
The School Student for Google Chrome extension must be installed onto each of the students’ Chromebooks. This can be done manually or can be deployed using the Google Admin Console for Education.
Install SoftLINK Name & Connectivity Server
The SoftLINK Name & Connectivity Server or ‘Gateway’ is designed to negotiate connections between the SoftLINK Tutor application used by teachers and the School Student extension for Google Chrome. Therefore, the Name and Connectivity Server must have a static IP address and be accessible at all times by both the Tutor application and Student extension across the network.
- Launch the SoftLINK installer. Download installer using link below. http://www.acs-linksystems.com/resources/downloads/SoftLINK/Setup.exe
- On the ‘License Information’ dialog, enter the license details provided to you separately or choose a 30 day evaluation.
- On the ‘Custom Setup’ dialog, choose the ‘Name and Connectivity Server’ option and click ‘Next’. Note: If you intend to run the Name & Connectivity server on the teacher’s computer, select and install “Tutor Console” at this time as well. On the ‘Room Identification’ dialog that will appear, enter the room that the Chromebook is located in. This information is used to ensure that the Tutor and Students are connected to each other (this information can be updated later).
- At the end of the installation the ‘SoftLINK Connectivity Server Configuration Utility’ will be launched.
- On the General tab, change the ‘Listen on all IP interfaces Port’ to 3085.
- On the ‘Keys’ tab, delete any existing keys and select ‘Add’ to create a new Connectivity Server key.
- On the ‘Add Connectivity Server Key’ dialog enter a description (for example, “SoftLINK Chrome Students”) and click the ‘Set…’ button to enter and confirm your Connectivity Server key. Click ‘OK’ once done. The Connectivity Server Key is a password or passphrase of your own choosing. Remember your Key, it will be needed when installing the teacher’s component.
- Click ‘OK’ to return to the ‘Keys’ tab, and click ‘Apply’ to complete the setup of the Name & Connectivity Server
There is a utility called the ‘SoftLINK Connectivity Server Console’ that can be used to check the status of the Name & Connectivity Server and to see details of which students are currently connected. This utility can be accessed by right clicking and selecting ‘Open’ on the SoftLINK Connectivity Server Console icon in the notification tray. Note: This image shows a client listed. During the initial installation, no clients will be listed, only after the software is fully configured will any clients appear.
Make a note of the following information as you will need it when configuring both the School Student extension for Google Chrome and the SoftLINK Tutor application.
SoftLINK Name & Connectivity Server details:
IP Address: ___________________________________________________________
Port Number: _________________________________________________________
Connectivity Server Key: ________________________________________________
Install Teacher Component
SoftLINK provides teachers with the ability to monitor, interact, and manage student Chromebooks in the classroom. Teachers can choose to monitor their students using a Windows workstation or they may choose to use a Chromebook. Please note that the Tutor station for Windows includes features that are not available in the Chrome OS Tutor interface.
Install Teacher Component for Windows
The SoftLINK Tutor application is used by the teacher to communicate, monitor, control and test students; as such it should be installed on each teacher’s Windows computer and configured to connect to the SoftLINK Name & Connectivity Server (covered earlier in this document).
- Launch the SoftLINK installer. Download installer using link below. Skip to step 5 if the Tutor was installed during the Name & Connectivity Server installation. http://www.acs-linksystems.com/resources/downloads/SoftLINK/Setup.exe
- On the ‘License Information’ dialog, enter the license details provided to you separately or choose a 30 day evaluation.
- On the ‘Setup Type’ dialog, choose the ‘Tutor’ option.
- On the ‘Room Identification’ dialog, enter the room that the Chromebook is located in. This information is used to ensure that the Tutor and Students are connected to each other (this information can be updated later).
- Once the SoftLINK Tutor application has been installed, it will need to be configured to connect to the Name & Connectivity Server. Launch the SoftLINK Class Control Tutor Console. Select the ‘School’ drop down menu in the upper left corner of the screen and then select the ‘Configuration…’ option.
- On the ‘Settings for Configuration’ dialog, select ‘Network Settings’ and check the ‘Use Name & Connectivity Server’ option in the ‘TCP/IP Settings’ section.
- In the ‘TCP/IP Settings’ section, click the ‘Settings’ button.
- In the ‘Name & Connectivity Server’ dialog, enter the IP Address, Port number and Key that you recorded earlier and click ‘OK’. Note: You must enter the original Key, not the encrypted key that was created in the Name & Connectivity Server.
- Click ‘OK’ to exit the configuration dialog and to complete the setup of the Tutor application.
Please note: The functionality available for use with Chromebooks is a subset of SoftLINK’s functionality available for other devices and platforms. If you are only connecting to students using Chromebooks, it may be preferable to remove unsupported functionality from the SoftLINK Tutor console.
If you wish to remove functionality unsupported by Chrome from the SoftLINK Tutor interface, please refer the Knowledge Base article KB0143 available from the Applied Computer Systems, Inc. knowledge base. Other articles of interest can be accessed by searching the knowledge base that is located at http://support.acs-linksystems.com/knowledgebase/.
Install Teacher Component for Chrome
The School Chrome Tutor application is used by the teacher to communicate, monitor, control and test students; as such it should be installed on each teacher’s Chrome device and configured to connect to the SoftLINK Name & Connectivity Server.
- Visit the Google Play store for the School Tutor extension for Google Chrome and select the “Add to Chrome” button. You can evaluate the School Chrome Tutor for 30 days on up to five student Chromebooks or, when prompted, you can enter your existing SoftLINK license information. If you’re new to SoftLINK or require additional licenses, contact your Applied Computer Systems, Inc. sales representative by calling 1-800-237-5465.
- Locate the NetSupport School Tutor for Chrome app and open it.
- The School Chrome Tutor will start and the ‘Enter License’ dialog will appear. Enter the School License details you have been provided with and click ‘License’ or ‘Evaluate’.
- The ‘Connect’ dialog will appear.
- Enter the Gateway Address, port number and Gateway Key. The Gateway Address is the IP address of the Name & Connectivity Server and the Gateway Key is the Connectivity Server Key. Both of these were determined in the first section of this installation guide.
- Choose whether to connect to your Google Chrome Students using Room name or Browse mode.
- Click ‘Connect’.
Install Student Component
The School Student extension for Google Chrome must be installed on the students’ Chromebooks and configured to connect to the SoftLINK Name & Connectivity Server (covered earlier in this document) so that they can be monitored, managed, and respond to surveys and the student register.
- Visit the Google Play Store for the School Student extension for Google Chrome and, on the Extensions details page, click the ‘Add to Chrome’ button.
- On the student Chromebook, enter the URL chrome://extensions to access the ‘Extensions’ configuration page.
- Locate the NetSupport School Student extension for Google Chrome, and click ‘Details’.
- Scroll down and select ‘Extension options.’
- In the ‘Connectivity’ section, enter the ‘Gateway Address’ and ‘Gateway Port’ of the Name & Connectivity Server. The Gateway Address is the IP address of the Name & Connectivity Server and the Gateway Key is the Connectivity Server Key. Both of these were determined in the first section of this installation guide.
- Select the option ‘This computer is always located in the following room:’ and enter the room that the Chromebook is located in. This information is used to ensure that the Tutor and Students are connected to each other (this information can be updated later). Optionally, you may select ‘This is a Mobile Computer and May Be in One of the Following Rooms.’ This scenario will require the students to connect to the teacher when they enter the class.
- Optionally, enter the Chromebook user’s name or asset number in the Client Name field. This information will appear on the SoftLINK Tutor interface when you are connecting to the Chromebooks.
- Click ‘Save’ when finished to complete the setup of the NetSupport School Student extension for Google Chrome.
- When deploying a large number of Chromebooks, it may be overwhelming to configure each Chromebook in this manner. The School Student extension can be added and configured using the Google Admin Console for Education. Please refer to the following section for complete details.
Creating a Configuration File (json file)
The json file contains the information that will be used in the Google Management Console. The easiest way to create the json file is to add the student extension to your Chrome Browser.
- On your PC, open a Chrome browser and browse to: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/extensions
- Search for ‘NetSupport School.’
- Locate the NetSupport School Student extension and choose ADD TO CHROME.
- Right-click the NetSupport icon next to the Address Bar and choose Options
- Enter the information for the extension. You must enter the Gateway Address (IP address of your Name & Connectivity Server, the Gateway Port used, the room name, and keyboard layout. Optionally, you may set a password in the ‘Protect the Configuration’ field.
- Click Export As File
- Choose additional options (the default is NOT to allow Name or Mac Address changes)
- Click Generate File
The file is now ready to be copied into the Google Management for Education Console. The file should appear in your Downloads folder and will be named Config.json. Open this file with Notepad when copying/pasting the information into the Management Console.
Google Admin Console Force Installation and Configuration for Chrome OS
Deploying SoftLINK for Chrome OS is extremely simple thanks to the ability to do a forced installation to the client Chromebooks. Not only can the extension be deployed to the user profiles in this manner, but the configuration of the extension can also be done in this way. Please note that in order to setup the School Student Extension, you will need the School Student extension added to your organization. Directions for adding Apps and Extensions can be found in the Google Answers pages: https://support.google.com/chrome/a/answer/6306504
- Open the Google Admin Console for Education.
- Navigate to:
Apps & extensions
- Locate the User Organizational Unit on the left that you would like to add the extension to.
NOTE: The NetSupport School extension must be applied to a USER organizational unit. Extensions are not added at the machine level.
- Click the yellow dot with a plus sign, in the bottom right, to add the extension.
- Choose ‘Add from Chrome Web Store.
- Search for Netsupport School and click ‘+ Select’ to add the extension.
- Set the permissions and URL access to ‘Allow all permissions.’
- Set the Installation policy to ‘Force Install’ to lock the extension so the students cannot uninstall it.
- Open the Config.json file in notepad which was created in the prior section. Select all of the information (Ctrl + A) and copy it (Ctrl + C). In the bottom right-hand corner, in Policy for extensions, paste the copied information form the json file.
- Click ‘Save’ at the top when finished.
- You have completed configuring the NetSupport School Student extension.
Contact Applied Computer Systems, Inc. if you experience difficulties during the installation process. Knowledgeable technicians can help guide you through the installation process and can provide answers to any questions you may have.