Electronic Classroom

Technical Support Information

Scanning for Lessons
Opening Files Remotely

Electronic Classroom - Frequently Asked questions

37. Is there a simple way to change tools without clicking the tool palette each time?

Yes. In version 2.5.9 the up and down arrow keys move up and down the tool palette for you. This saves moving the mouse to the palette each time. The right and left arrows change line widths.

36. I always use text in my lessons. It's annoying to have to select the text tool each time I startup.

Version 2.5.9 has a preference setting just for you. You can now choose either the freehand or text tool as the default when you start Electronic Classroom.

35. Typing seems slow with Track Mouse turned on.

You may need to turn Track Mouse off if typing is too slow.

34. Why does the wheel spin immediately upon connecting with my new PowerMac or AV model?

This is caused by an apparent incompatibility with Electronic Classroom and Apple's System 7 update 3. Apple have never been able to give us sufficient information to resolve the problem successfully but the good news is that the problem is fixed in System 7.5. If that is unacceptable, you can always de-install update 3.

33. Does version 2.5 still run on Black and White Macs?

Yes. But you will need to install version 2.5.7C in order to overcome some unforseen bugs on the older Mac Classic and Plus models. If you are working with older files saved on those models you will need version 2.5.7D in order to correctly transfer them.

32. I'm having trouble getting through with my new modem.

Newer modems need special startup strings to work correctly. V 2.5.8 (out soon) will fix this problem, in the meantime ring us to obtain the correct string for your newly purchased modem.

31. I've heard voices in my modem when trying to dial. Am I going mad, or what?

A modem connects a computer to the ordinary Telecom phone system - the same one you use to ring your friends. The speaker in the modem faithfully passes on the noises and announcements that you would hear in the course of an ordinary telephone call - in fact that's precisely what it's there for. So, if you attempt to dial and then hear a voice in your modem saying "This is a Telecom Australia announcement..." listen to what the message is saying as it is probably telling you the reason your call did not succeed.

Likewise, if you hear an engaged tone in the speaker, then the number you are ringing is busy. You can save yourself time by immediately hanging up the call (click 'Hangup' in the Modem or Printer port dialog under the Set menu) and dialling again. If you wait, it may be some time before the modem gives up on the call and notifies Electronic Classroom of its failure to connect.

30. In the event of a program or computer crash, how do I know if I need to redial the number?

If the OH lights are lit on both modems then the modems are still connected through the telephone system. In this case, you do not need to dial again, simply restart the failed program or computer(s) (as the case may be) and you should automatically reconnect to the remote location.

29. I am a Chemistry teacher and use Subscripts heavily. Is there an easier way to invoke them without two keystrokes each time?

Version 2.5 Preferences allows the 'Control' key on most keyboards to invoke either Subscript or Superscript when held down. It's your choice.

28. I work for a Distance Education Centre and use Electronic Classroom on my computer only for lesson preparation. It's annoying to have to keep selecting 'Prepare for Lesson' each time I startup?

Your problem has just been solved in version 2.5. A new Preference option tells Electronic Classroom to always startup ready to 'Prepare for Lesson'.

27. Will version 2.5 still run on a Black and White Macintosh? Plus or Classic under System 6?

Yes, version 2.5 should continue to run on the older computers with System 6.07 or later. As facilities to test with the older configurations are limited, please report any problems immediately so they can be investigated

26. Can I still read the older 'Lesson Notes' files with 2.5?

Yes older files may be opened by version 2.5 and used as before. However when preparing a lesson, if you elect to save an older file, it will appear in the new format with the new icon.

25. How do I know if I am running version 2.5?

Version 2.5 of Electronic Classroom has a new icon on colour screens. It should be instantly recognisable. Failing that, check the 'About' item under the Apple menu for the version.

24. How can I use a preferred text font and size in each lesson ?

Just create a text box with one character in the font/size/style combination you like. Copy that character and paste into your scrapbook. Then, at the start of each lesson, paste it from the scrapbook into the first text box you create. From then on, all text in that box will take on the same look. When creating new text boxes, click somewhere in some preferred text prior to typing.

23. Do I need Apple's System 7 to run version 2.0 ?

No. Electronic Classroom version 2.0 will run under later version of System 6 (eg 6.07 or 6.08). If you are happy using one of these systems there is no need to upgrade to System 7 just because you are upgrading your Electronic Classroom version.

22. If I still use a Classic or Plus, should I upgrade to 2.0 ?

Some users believe they cannot upgrade to Version 2.0 of Electronic Classroom if they are still using a black and white computer like a Classic or Mac Plus. Whilst some of the new features do not apply, version 2.0 should still run on those Macs.

21. Why are there problems with Electronic Classroom on the new 'AV' Macs ?

There is some incompatability between Electronic Classroom and the serial port driver on Apple's new Centris 660av and Quadra 840av machines. The symptoms are difficulty forming links and slow image transfers. This problem only occurs on the Modem port. The problem is currently being investigated and will be fixed as soon as possible.

20. How can some foreign text appear garbled on some Macs?

Usually because you do not have the same fonts installed on all computers. (Details may be found in section of your manual titled: 'Preparing to Teach...').

19. Why doesn't 'Track Mouse' work on the LC III?

The 'Track Mouse' option will not move the pointer on remote Mac LC III computers. This is a bug which is currently being addressed. The bug does not, however, stop teachers at LCIII's moving the pointer on other types of Macintoshes.

Until this is fixed, you can work around it by creating a small text box into which you can type an appropriate question. eg

<-- What is this ?

Drag this box to point at an appropriate part of the screen

18. When linking multiple sites, which should I dial first?

When forming more than one link, it is sensible to start with the connection most likely to give trouble. Once this has been successfully established, other connections can then be dialled.

The rationale is simple. If you form the most potentially troublesome link first, you have more options available if problems arise. For example, you can quit and power off the computer and modem more easily if no other links are already established. And if other links have already been established, your computer is devoting some of its time to chatting with them, and may not be giving its full attention to the next link being formed.

17. Why do compressed colour graphics sometimes not appear?

This is often a problem if the wrong version of QuickTime is installed. Check the version number and restart your Mac.

16. Why does my new modem not answer when it is rung?

There is a compatability problem between rural exchanges and some Avtek and Netcomm fax/data modems which means the modem will refuse to answer on the 2nd or later rings.

If you are experiencing this, we can send you some instructions to help overcome the problem.

15. Why is it hard to write on the screen smoothly with the mouse?

It's not - with the correct mouse speed and a little practice. Many users apparently do not realise that the current mouse speed setting greatly affects the smoothness of handwriting. If you or your students have trouble controlling the mouse, select the mouse option in the Control Panel (from under the Apple menu) and set the speed to 'Very Slow' - the Tablet setting. After making the correct setting it's simply a matter of a little practice makes perfect!

14. A handy hint for teaching handwriting or showing Japanese characters shapes.

To draw a shape for a student to trace, the teacher first draws the outline with the thickest line and the lightest gray colour.

Then select a thin solid black line before passing control for a student to trace the outline.

Use 'undo' (if the outline was traced in one movement) to let another student have a go.

13. Why does the 'Lesson Costs' display sometimes show nonsensical figures?

The 'Lesson Costs' display relies on all machines having their times matching the time on the Teacher's machine. The 'Lesson Costs' displayed at the Teacher's Macintosh will always be correct. However if the student machines times differ from that of the Teacher then their 'Lesson Costs' will be wrong. (Lesson Costs are calculated by subtracting the time the Teacher signed in from the current time on each Mac).

To correct the problem, just synchronise clocks. That is, after making the voice linkup but before starting Electronic Classroom, get someone at each location to open up the control panel and then set all the time displays so they are identical. Once you have set the clocks they should remain in synch.

12. Don't pass control until all status lamps are black.

When the teacher passes control to another location it is important to wait until all activity has ceased. To tell if activity is still in progress, check the status lamp panel beneath the tool palette at the left hand side of the screen.

If one or more of those lamps are not black then data is still in transit to that location (eg 'Bris' in the diagram). A gray lamp indicates that Electronic Classroom is still sending information to that location. There is no point proceeding until this condition clears. The lamp could still be gray because of a line problem, a slower machine at that location or there simply has not been enough time for the last transfer to complete.

11. Is it quicker to transfer screens that only contain text?

In early versions it took quite a while to transfer a screen with no graphics because the blank screen was still being sent piece by piece. With version 1.09 of Electronic Classroom it became much faster to transfer text-only screens as only the text is sent.

10. Does AppleTalk need to be off if using Electronic Classroom via the Modem Port?

No - many users apparently believe that AppleTalk must be turned off before using the program. This is because of the warning alert that appears on startup if AppleTalk is on. It is only necessary to turn AppleTalk off if both ports are to be used in a three way lesson. If only using the Modem port, click the 'Continue' button and proceed.

9. What do I do when I've finished teaching a lesson?

Simply select Quit from the File menu then click either 'Quit' or 'Hangup and Quit'.

8. What should I do when a dialling error occurs?

When an error occurs in dialling a telephone number, you will often hear an engaged signal, a person answering, or the number continuing to ring in your modem's speaker. Some time may elapse before the modem notifies Electronic Classroom of the problem. Resist the temptation to hangup immediately but rather wait until a message appears on the screen indicating what the problem is. Then you can either correct the problem and/or dial again.

7. How do I enter the password when using KanjiTalk?

With the KanjiTalk software installed and running, entering passwords changes slightly. As the date is shown in the reverse order (year first), the last three letters of the password will always be 199 at least until the turn of this century!

6. How do I enter the 'Chooser Name' under Apple's System 7.0 ?

With System 7.0 (the latest release from Apple) there is a slight change in the procedure outlined in the manual for entering your school's name. With System 7.0, the Chooser Desk Accessory no longer has the information about your school's name. Instead you need to use the 'Control panels' option under the menu. Double click 'Sharing Setup' and enter the name of your school against 'Owner Name:' in the "Network Identity' (or upper) section.

5. Who should link in first in a Multipointing Lesson?

When using one of the multipointing Macintosh II's for four, five or six way lessons the teacher should always dial the Multipointing machine first. Since version 1.09 of Electronic Classroom there has been a feature to notify those who are already connected of all new connections. By being first, the teacher will then see messages indicating the successful connection of each of the student locations in turn.

4. What does it mean when a spinning wheel appears?

The mouse pointer (technically known as the cursor) will turn into a spinning wheel whenever your computer is not able to send all the information it has to the other computers in the linkup. There can be two main reasons for this occurring.

The most common cause is a communications problem (bad, crossed or noisy line) stopping any effective communications taking place. This often clears itself, so be patient and wait, perhaps proceeding with an audio only part of the lesson for a few moments. If it will not clear after a couple of minutes, you may have to reestablish that link.

The spinning wheel can also occur when you are generating data too fast for the speed of the link. For example, the 'Track mouse' option tends to produce masses of data, especially if you are moving the mouse quickly. If the wheel starts spinning during 'Track mouse' either turn it off for a while or move the mouse a little more slowly.


Text under Electronic Classroom behaves the same as text in other Macintosh programs. To select a word, just double click anywhere within the word. It is not necessary to drag over the word from start to finish. (Naturally double clicking a word also selects the same word at linked locations). If you move the mouse to the right whilst held down after the double click, more words will be selected.


The lamps at the bottom left hand edge of the screen are a vital part of your teaching equipment. They let you know what is happening at each of the other remote locations. Whilst information is in transit from your location, the lamps will be gray in colour. When each remote screen is completely up to date, its lamp will change to solid black. There is no point in proceeding with the lesson whilst one lamp remains gray. So be sure to watch the lamps carefully as you are teaching (particularly if lines are bad) to ensure your students see what you are seeing.


Some schools are experiencing overloads in 3 to 6 way links when opening 'Lesson Notes' files containing many screens. Restricting the number of screens per file to a maximum of four has proved to greatly reduce the incidence of 'spinning wheels' during lessons. If you wish to download more than four screens at a time, simply break up your screens into a number of files each containing a maximum of four screens. Once one file has successfully arrived at all sites (check the lamps on the screen) the next file can be opened, and so on.