Seek and Destroy
Keeping some sort of lid on the student file storage is essential.
These days students are used to having huge amounts of data on their home computers, and assume they can do the same with their school account. We used to have a quota system but it became a pain to administer, and 9 times of of 10 when someone requested an increase we had to check why their quota was exhausted anyway as we could often find a load of junk they’d saved that they could get rid of to free up 90% of their allowance.
These days we simply monitor what goes into the file storage. Usage is monitored daily; anyone who adds more than 100MB in a single day gets flagged up and I have a snoop to see what they’ve added. More than half the time it turns out to be games, MP3s, pirated software, etc. That gets an instant delete. If I find anything particularly bad (pirated copies of school software, or – rarely – porn) then the account gets disabled and the idiot responsible gets a stern talking to.
Of course, they can sneak junk in under the radar if it’s in daily supplements of less than 100MB, so I also run periodic scans for files that give clues as to who’s being a waster. These files are little things that suggest the presence of a much larger problem, like the supporting .dll file to an N64 emulator. The file itself is tiny, but if a kid has it in their network documents, they probably also have a large collection of game files that eat up much more space.
The feeble attempts to hide the games are the most amusing. They’ll hide their “Project 64” emulator inside their ‘French’ folder (“Projet soixante-quatre”, bien sûr) and think that I won’t be suspicious that they appear to have 200MB of French coursework when everyone else has less than 1MB.
As for punishment, my method is simple. I hit them where it hurts. Deleting the games is nothing to them; they can re-download them at will. Deleting their saved game progress files, however, stings a little more, as hours of their gaming prowess disappears into the ether.
In the end, it’s the simple pleasures that make my job bearable.