Speech and Camera tool

Speech and Camera tool is available on the Messaging tab of the top toolbar, and is represent on the toolbar with the “Speech” icon.

The tool provides access to the following features:

• broadcast the teacher’s voice from a microphone (or other recording device) to students;

• listen to a voice from student computers, recorded from a microphone or other recording device;

• broadcast the system audio of the teacher computer to students;

• listen to the system audio of student computers;

• display an image from a teacher’s web-camera to students; optionally, together with the teacher’s voice or the system audio;

• view an image from the student webcams, optionally, together with the system audio or a sound from the microphone;

audio conference calls between the teacher and students so that all participants can communicate with each other.

video conference calls between the teacher and students;

• ability to record the received sound from student computers with saving to a file;

• divide participants of a conference call into conference groups (up to 4 groups) for individual work;

• dynamically change the capture and output settings, the volume and recording levels.

The Speech tool is available only in modules for Microsoft Windows.

To use the tool, please select students in the connections list, then click the “Speech” button on the “Messaging” tab of the main toolbar. In the appeared window you can select an initial mode of the tool (the mode can also be changed and customized later, within the speech session):

Speak – teacher speaks to students, the voice recorded from a microphone is playing on student computers

Listen – the teacher listens to the students (their voice recorded from a microphone)

Play System – plays the system audio of the teacher computer on student computers. The system audio is the sound that is currently playing on a computer.

Listen System – plays the system audio of student computers on the teacher computer

Show – displays an image from the teacher’s web-camera and sound from a microphone on student computers

Watch – displays an image from web-cameras of student computers on the teacher computer

Aud. Conference – enables the audio conference call mode

Video conference – enables the video conference call mode.

After selecting the mode, the “Speech” tab appears at the bottom of the main window:

The top toolbar of the Speech panel provides access to the commands and features of teacher computer:

Microphone – turns on the microphone on the teacher computer and broadcasts the sound to student computers. As the microphone, Net Control 2 uses the default audio recording device, as it set up in the Windows sound settings.

System – broadcasts the system audio of the teacher computer to students. The system audio is a sound that is currently playing on the teacher computer.

The “Microphone” and “System” modes are mutually exclusive, only one of them can be used at a time.

Camera – turns on the web camera connected to the teacher computer and broadcasts an image from the camera to students. The default recording mode is 640×480 or closest.

Conference groups (1, 2, 3, 4) – adds a membership of the teacher in the respective conference group. Please see Conference groups section below for more details.

Volume and Recording levels – set up the sound volume and recording level on the teacher computer. The recording level of the system audio cannot be modified.

Settings:

System – displays the Windows system sound settings dialog, where the sound settings of the teacher computer may be customized.

The Users panel (on the left) contains a list of students that participate in the speech session. If you need to add new students to the session, just select them in the connections list (on Connections tab) and then click the Speech tool button on the top toolbar again:

The mode of each student in the list may be configured independently, you can turn on or off the necessary features individually for each student.

To enable or disable certain functions for a specific user, you can use the buttons at the right side of the student item in the list.

To enable or disable functions for several users at the same time, just select students using the checkboxes at the left of the student’s name, and then use the respective buttons of the “Users” panel’s toolbar:

Clear selection – resets the selection of users in the list

Select All – selects all users in the list

Invert selection – inverts the selection of users in the list

Microphone – turns on the microphone (or other “default” recording device) on the student computer.

System – turns on the capture of the system sound on the student computers.

Camera – turns on the web-camera connected to the student computer, and displays an image from the camera on the teacher computer.

1, 2, 3, 4 – enables or disables membership in the respective conference group.

Play – turns on the playback of the sound from the teacher or other student computers.

Record – enables recording of the received audio from the student computer and saves it to a file.

Volume – allows adjusting the sound volume or recording levels on student computers.

Broadcast and playback of the sound.

With the Speech and Camera tool, you can customize features for each participant in the session individually, just by turning on or off the necessary sources (devices) and enabling or disabling the playback.

For example, to play the teacher’s voice on student computers, you need to turn on the microphone in the teacher panel (the top toolbar of the Speech tool), and to enable the Play feature for those students in the list, who need to listen to the teacher’s voice. Respectively, for the students who should not be able to hear the teacher, the “Play” feature should be disabled.

When you are selecting the initial mode at startup of the tool, the respective features will be enabled or disabled by default, depending on the selected mode.

Audio conference call mode. Conference groups

By default, when you are turning on the microphone on student and teacher computers, the teacher can hear all students, but students can hear the teacher only and cannot hear other students.

If some students should be able to hear other students, you need to join them into a conference group. Net Control 2 provides access to four conference groups, and members of one group can hear each other but are unable to hear members of other conference groups.

To add a student to a conference group, just select them in the Users list and click the number of the respective conference group (1, 2, 3 or 4) in the Users panel

Moreover, if some students are assigned to a conference group, the teacher will not be able to hear such students unless the teacher is also the member of this conference group. To assign a conference group to the teacher, please use 1, 2, 3, 4 buttons on the top toolbar of the Speech tool.

Video conference call

When a web-camera is enabled on student and teacher computers, the teacher can watch all selected students (images are appearing in the central part of the Speech tool panel), but students are able to see only one, the “source” computer. The source computer is marked by the following icon:

By default, the “source” is the camera of the teacher. The teacher can change the source just by clicking the source button on the respective web-camera image. To disable temporarily showing the camera on student computers, just click the source button again.

An image from the teacher or another “source” computer is displayed on student computers in a small window at the top righthand corner of the screen. Students cannot close this window, while the session is in effect and the camera “source” is selected and enabled.

Recording audio from student computers

To record a sound from student computers (the microphone or the system sound), just click the Record button in the user list. The audio is recorded in MP3 format and saved in the My Documents\Net Control 2 folder under the name of the computer from which the recording was made, with the respective time stamp.

Performance and protocols

The performance of the tool (refresh rate of the camera image, delays in voice/audio transmission) depends on the number of participants in the session, network load and latency, configuration of the hardware.

Small delays in the transmission of the voice or sound (about 1 second) are acceptable and inevitable, due to peculiarities of the sound capture, compression and transmission technology.

When the tool should be used in sessions with a large number of participants (above 15) or in loaded networks, multicast protocols may significantly reduce the network load and sometimes to increase the performance of the tool. To change the protocol, please open the teacher module settings (N – Options – Options), the “Commands” page:

in the “Speech and Camera” section, select the necessary protocol and click OK button.

Unicast is the default protocol that is recommended for the most of situations.

Multicast generates less network traffic and provides better performance on busy networks or when the tool is used in sessions with many participants.

UDP Broadcast is an alternative to Multicast, when the Multicast protocol is not supported by the network configuration.

 

Closing the session

To close the speech session, just close the Speech tab at the bottom of the main window of the teacher console, or click the Close Session button in the top-righthand corner of the Speech panel:

Net Control 2 version 21.4 (Windows)

Net Control 2 Classroom, Professional and SmallClass Editions version 21.4 (April 2021) is released. This update is currently available for Windows platform only.

Automatic update for Net Control 2 Classroom and SmallClass will be sent to the eligible owners of the version 20 licenses within next two weeks. The software may be downloaded and updated manually right now from the downloads section of your customer area account on our website.

The main changes:

The new Speech and Camera tool, completely redesigned and rewritten from scratch, provides access to the following features:

broadcast the teacher’s voice from a microphone (or other recording device) to students;

• listen to a voice from student computers, recorded from a microphone or other recording device;

• broadcast the system audio of the teacher computer to students;

• listen to the system audio of student computers;

• display an image from a teacher’s web-camera to students; optionally, together with the teacher’s voice or the system audio;

• view an image from the student webcams, optionally, together with the system audio or a sound from the microphone;

audio conference calls between the teacher and students so that all participants can communicate with each other.

video conference calls between the teacher and students;

• ability to record the received sound from student computers with saving to a file;

• divide participants of a conference call into conference groups (up to 4 groups) for individual work;

• dynamically change the capture and output settings, the volume and recording levels.

The update includes also multiple minor user interface improvements and bug fixes.

Net Control 2 for macOS

Net Control 2 Classroom and PRO for macOS are already available for download. This upgrade is released as a part of the version 20 line and introduces support of macOS Catalina (OS X 10.15). The minimum supported OS now is OS X Mountain Lion (10.8).

The teacher module for Apple macOS is available as a DMG package, and provides access to the same features as Net Control 2 for Windows with several exceptions (Speech Manager and voice & audio features in other tools, web browser, file manager and Windows-platform specific features).

The student module for OS X is available as a .PKG installation package. It supports the following features:

  • Student computer screenshots in thumbnails on the teacher computer
  • Student computer information (OS version, computer name)
  • “Control” (Remote Desktop). Control the student computer from the teacher computer, using the keyboard and mouse. The following features are not supported: screen annotations, computer lock up during the remote session, Ctrl+Alt+Del simulation, “Move an active window to the top-left screen corner”.
  • Broadcast Desktop tool
  • Broadcast Student’s screen
  • Screenshot View
  • Internet restrictions. Safari and Google Chrome browsers are supported only.
  • Program restrictions.
  • Sound muting.
  • Program Manager: terminate programs, run programs, documents, URLs etc. from Desktop or /Applications folder; run programs/URLs from a command line.
  • Shutdown manager: shutdown, reboot, logoff, hibernate and sleep the computer (should be allowed by the OS settings).
  • Send/Collect Files – file operations are currently available only on Net Control 2 Common Files folder, on OS X systems it is mapped to /Users/UserLogin/Documents/Net Control 2 folder (where /Users/UserLogin is a home folder of a currently logged in user).
  • Lock – locks the student computer temporarily. “Keep the locked state after reboot” option is not supported.
  • Quick Run
  • Messages – full screen or windowed messages; setting up the system sound volume remotely. Text-to-speech using built-in Apple’s TTS engine.
  • Chats and Help requests. The chat subsystem is compatible with the version 20 clients only.
  • Student registration.
  • Whiteboard.
  • Rewards.
  • Grades.
  • Journal-related features.
  • Quizzes.
  • Polls.
  • Desktop Records Player. Without audio features.
  • Changing the student module settings remotely from the teacher module.
  • Connecting a teacher computer from the student computer by IP address or a DNS name (if allowed by the student module settings).
  • Students can initiate connections by a Teacher Session ID code.
  • The student computer may be found and added to the teacher console, using Scan button of the teacher console, if Connection Password is set up in the student module settings.
  • Raise Hand tool.
  • Quick Statuses

In macOS Catalina, several permissions (such as the screen capture permission, access to Documents folder, access to accessibility features) should be enabled in macOS settings. Usually the operating system prompts for such permissions during the first start of the student module.

If you already have the version 20 license of Net Control 2 Classroom or PRO, the new macOS packages should appear automatically in Downloads section of your customer area on our website.

Remote teaching and Net Control 2

In connection with the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, many organizations and educational institutions are switching to different forms of remote work, teaching and training, and we receive many questions on how to implement and use Net Control 2 classroom management software in the remote education process.

In general, Net Control 2 products are designed and optimized only for use in local networks that offer better performance and low latency than Internet connections offer, lack of web servers for Internet gateways for its work and so on. Therefore, Net Control 2 software can utilize multiple different teaching and monitoring tools at a time without impact on the network resources. On the other hand, specialized remote access software for Internet, implements only a few of features that are available in Net Control 2, but is specially adapted for low speed connections and most often cannot be used without access to Internet.

In addition, the software that is designed for use in Internet must implement and use strong authentication, encryption and data protection mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access to computers in the web. While it is assumed that local networks are already protected from access from outside of the LAN with various software and hardware tools; the software that is designed for use in local networks may use more simple ways of authentication and data protection and concentrate efforts on the better usability and performance. So, Net Control 2 software is not intended for direct use in Internet and cannot connect teachers and students over this network.

However, if you need to organize the remote teaching process and use Net Control 2 software in the process of such training, several approaches are possible.

The purpose of this article is a general description of the possible algorithms. We do not describe each of the cases separately, since the implementation strongly depends on capabilities of the educational institution local network; and in any case the implementation of any of the methods must be done only by a qualified IT specialist who can correctly configure the existing equipment and software. Information provided below is not a step by step guide, it may be incomplete, and please use it on your own risk only.

  1. Students connect existing classroom computers over Internet, using Windows Remote Desktop software. In this case, students work with the classroom computers as if they sit in front of them in the lab. This approach allows using the existing software environment including Net Control 2 software installed in the network. Net Control 2 software supports Windows terminal sessions, and most often, no additional configuration of Net Control 2 software is required. Despite the complexity of some initial configuration (compared to the Case 2), the costs are offset by greater reliability and performance.
    This approach usually assumes the following requirements to the network environment of the organization.
    • The OS on the classroom computers must support Windows Remote Desktop connection (e.g. for Microsoft Windows, Home editions do not support RDP, and Windows Professional or higher edition should be used).
    • As a rule, you will need to set up static IP addresses for computers in the classroom, and configure “port forwarding” on the LAN router for each teacher and student computer (to forward “external” ports to 3389 local port of a concrete teacher or student computer).
    • On student and teacher computers you will need to create user accounts with strong passwords and limit remote access by these accounts only .
    • For security purposes, we recommend monitoring all incoming connections to the local network of the organization, and to turn off remote access services after end of the work.
  2. In a similar way, remote access to classroom computers can be arranged with third-party software like Zoho Assist, join.me, TeamViewer, etc. To organize the remote access, create remote sessions, obtain IDs and submit them to students, this approach requires presence of a teacher or other specialist in the classroom. After gaining access to the classroom computers, students and teachers can use Net Control 2 software and other resources of the classroom computers for their work.
  3. If you intend to organize a fully virtual classroom in which students and teachers use their personal “home” computers that are connected into a virtual network, you need to install the Net Control 2 software on the teacher and student computers, create a virtual network and configure the software to use resources of this virtual network. To organize a virtual LAN, you can use specialized software like Tunngle (free), LogMeIn Hamachi (free for up to 5 computers). If your organization has a dedicated server or a cloud virtual machine (AWS, Azure), you can install and configure OpenVPN software on the server and create accounts for students and teachers.
    In all such cases, the virtual LAN connection provides a virtual IP address that may be used for connecting computers in the virtual LAN. This virtual IP address of the teacher computer should be set in the student module settings of student computers, and the further operation for Net Control 2 software will be the same as in a local network (except the network performance of course).
  4. Using cloud platforms (Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and others) you can easily create a virtual Microsoft Windows Server machine in the cloud, set up user accounts on it and install the necessary software, including Net Control 2. Teachers and students can connect then the cloud virtual machine using Windows Remote Desktop, work on it as terminal clients and use software and resources of the server. This method assumes use paid services from cloud providers.

Of course, this article does not describe all possible situations and cases. If you need more information regarding any of the described above methods, please do not hesitate to contact our support team.

Net Control 2 version 20 is already available!

We are pleased to announce that the new Net Control 2 version 20 classroom management software is already available for download and installation!

The list of improvements and new features was published on this blog slightly earlier, and is available for review here.

This major update is currently available only for Windows versions of Net Control 2 Classroom, SmallClass, and PRO editions. Net Control 2 Mobile Clients version 12 are compatible and can be used together with the version 20. An update for OS X (including OS X 10.15 Catalina) will be available soon (planned for the end of May).

Users of previous versions of Net Control 2 products that would like to upgrade the software to the version 20, if their license is eligible for the free upgrade, should contact us for a new, upgraded registration key. The registration name and key of previous versions will not work with the version 20. Please contact our support team, in your request please specify your registration name and key of the latest license. The new key will be sent within two work days.

Our customers who are not eligible for the free upgrade, but purchased the license not earlier than 5 years ago, are still eligible for up to 50% upgrade discounts. More information about upgrade is available here.

Enjoy your use! We are always waiting for your feedback and impressions, which you can send us through the support panel.

Net Control 2 version 20. What’s New.

The specified features concern Windows version of the software only. Availability of features may depend on the software edition.

The new release includes improvements of core features (like file transfer speed), support of high resolution displays (including 4k displays), new features for 1:1 environment support, redesigned user interface, new chat tool, redesigned file manager, new bad language restrictions, support of kiosk applications and many other improvements.

General

Improved User Interface. New color scheme.

Support of high resolution monitors including 4K displays and screen scales above 125%.

Direct connections of Net Control 2 Classroom edition are reintroduced with a new, more safe realization. Both direct and inverse connections are available at the same time without enabling the compatibility mode. The new direct connections model is not compatible with older versions. If you use this model, please read documentation before upgrading.

Classroom Edition: a new self registration engine for 1:1 environment. Students can send requests to all teachers in the network, teachers then can select students they need to connect. Students can connect a teacher by selecting him in the list. Enhanced features include protection of incoming connections with a PIN, automatic acceptance of connections when a PIN code is provided, prompts to select a teacher on logon or on each disconnection from a teacher.

The file transfer subsystem is completely redesigned. Now the file transfer speed is 50-100% faster on large files and is up to 25x faster for small files.

User Interface improvements

Group icons may be customized with a custom text description, background color or image.

Redesigned, simplified the teacher options window.

Smooth scaling of thumbnails in the computers list.

Maximum thumbnail size is increased to 1020px (width)

More precise thumbnail position in the free layout view after scaling. Fixes the issue with the incorrect thumbnails order after scaling the layout to a very low scale value and switching back to normal.

The file transfer progress is displayed in the status bar only, file copying is performed entirely in background. Allows performing other tasks during the file transfer.

A default action of Broadcast Desktop or Control button on the top toolbar depends on the last used mode: control/view/control in separate windows.

The popup connection information window: significantly higher (almost realtime) update rate for the displayed user screen.

Remote Desktop tool

Significantly faster mouse response on the controlled computer.

Entirely redesigned Remote Desktop Viewer.

Several controlled computers may be displayed either all-in-one window (with ability to switch between them), or each controlled computer is displayed in its own window.

Joining/excluding controlled clients when multiple computers are controlled in one window. Now it is possible to exclude a computer from the controlled computers set to a separate window, or join a computer in a separate window to the common session.

Three stretch modes: normal (1:1), stretched proportional; stretched unproportional.

Fast zooming the displayed screen in the viewer.

Broadcast Desktop

Instructor can switch the broadcast desktop viewer on user computers between the full screen and windowed mode in a click, using a button on the Broadcast Desktop toolbar.

During a broadcast session, Instructor can enable the controlling mode on the user computers, so users can interact with the Instructor computer directly from the broadcast session. This applies also to user broadcast desktop sessions when a student is sharing his/her screen to others.

Program Management

Applications may be run in a special Kiosk mode. In this mode, students cannot switch to other applications, only the selected application is available.

Restrictions

Bad Language restrictions. The new tool allows preparing a list of “forbidden” words. When a user types some text that includes such words in any application on his computer, the teacher will be immediately notified about the event.

New redesigned restrictions window.

Internet restrictions: improved Internet restrictions profile editor.

Internet restrictions: ability to import a list of websites from an external file. New “Verify” tool provides an easy way to validate the profile before sending or saving.

Redesigned, improved program restrictions manager.

Chat

Absolutely new chat tool.

Enhanced text formatting capabilities include custom alignment, font styles, colors; for the whole entered text or a fragment.

Ability to insert graphic images from a file or paste them from Clipboard.

Support of emoticons.

Ability to insert to the chat a screenshot of entire Instructor screen’s or cut its part.

Ability to make and send small drawings instead of entering a text.

Ability to attach any file that becomes available for all participants of the chat. In this way you can easily share your work with students or get files from them.

Ability to scale the chat content (text size).

The chat window may be displayed within the main teacher console window or displayed as a separate window.

File Manager

File Manager was redesigned from scratch. More stable and easy to use.

File operations are more predictable due to they are always apply to the currently selected computers (in previous versions File Manager had its own list).

Standard classic NC-style file management: files are displayed in side-by-side panels, in resizable columns, may be selected and managed with standard keyboard shortcuts (like Insert, F2..F10)

Messages

Messages tool. Messages can include special macros in the text to display some computer specific information, like a computer name, connection name, user name, random numbers, split a class to pairs, triples etc.

Polls

Improved user interface for the tool.

Instructor can customize polls using built-in scenarios. Currently included scenarios allow determining users that give the fastest correct replies on a poll.

Whiteboard

Realtime update for the pen tool. Faster response on user computers for other tools.

Other

Help requests: for received help requests, Instructor can initiate a remote desktop session in a click, directly from the help request dialog.

A special button on group icons in the groups list makes possible to wake up student computers of the group in a click.

New numbering of versions. The software versions represent now a year and month of the release, as year.month, e.g. 20.3 is a version released in March 2020.

Redesigned Quick Run editor.

Redesigned Student Registration window in the teacher console.

Student Module

Redesigned Student Console. Provides better usability, supports high resolution monitors (4K) and scales above 125%.

Adaptive User Interface depends on the enabled features and current state of the student module (e.g. connected/unconnected).

Ability to repeat the last message sent from a teacher computer.

Redesigned Connect Instructor tool that reflects new connection features.

Student settings are adjusted to reflect new 1:1 features

Version 20 is coming soon!

We expect that a couple of next beta testing cycles in the coming weeks will complete the three-year development period of the new version. The new release introduces numerous improvements in the user interface, new features and multiple upgrades for the existing tools.

For better convenience of handling the software updates, more clear release version numbering, more predictable cycles of free updates, starting with this update, we decided to change the version numbering order.

Version numbers now include a year and month of the release, as also a unique build number. Thus, the next software version is 20.3!

A detailed list of changes will be published shortly.

In conclusion, we would like to remind you that all Net Control 2 SmallClass licenses includes one year, and Net Control 2 Classroom and PRO include two years of free updates to any future versions from the date of purchase. Within this period, all users of versions 11 and 12 will be able to upgrade their software to the version 20.3 at no additional cost.

Mac OS X Catalina and Net Control 2

(Updated) Net Control 2 Classroom and PRO version 20 already support macOS Catalina 10.15

Today, October 8th, 2019 Apple has released the next update for their operating system for desktop platforms Mac OS X 10.15 also known as “Catalina”. Among other great features, this version requires 64 bit support for all applications in the system. Despite Net Control 2 software just does not use large memory volumes and is optimized for the 32 bit model, with Catalina the presence of 64 bit versions of the software in a package is a mandatory requirement.

We are in the process of developing of the next major upgrade for Net Control 2 that will include full support of 64 bits for OS X, but meantime, please note, currently Net Control 2 Classroom and PRO for Mac OS X may not support OS X 10.15 Catalina. The preferred version is OS X 10.13 High Sierra.

Net Control 2 version 12.13

Based on a feedback from our customers, we are introducing with this minor update several improvements for Broadcast Desktop tool to make work with this tool even simpler and effective.

  1. Now an Instructor or User who broadcasts his/her screen to other users, can enable a special Control Mode. When the mode is enabled, all users that are watching the presentation can participate in it and interact with the Instructor’s (or a broadcast source) screen remotely, using a keyboard and mouse.
  2. In addition to the Control Mode, Instructors now can dynamically switch Broadcast Desktop Viewer window on user computers between the full-screen and windowed mode. This may be helpful, for example, for scenarios when a teacher explains some material first and then allows students to make some tasks on their computers not interrupting the broadcast desktop presentation.

This update also includes several other minor improvements and bug fixes.

Net Control 2 version 12.10

Net Control 2 Classroom, SmallClass and PRO for Windows are updated to version 12.10. This update includes several UI improvements and bug fixes in part of work with non-default workspaces; sorting groups in the groups list; significant improvements for the multi display environment and the appearance on a secondary screen.

This version introduces a new engine for automatic updates that should allow more smooth and effective update to newer versions. Beginning from the version 12.10, all minor and build updates will be automatically downloaded and installed, when allowed by the software settings.

Net Control 2 PRO supports setting up a custom domain for Active Directory authentication.

This version includes other bug fixes and minor improvements.