Wednesday, October 6, 2010

LanSchool Technologies



What is it?
Using a home network, LanSchool Technologies software allows an instructor to interact, monitor and control student computers within their network. The Home version enables a teacher to monitor up to 3 computers. The product includes software downloads for the teacher (controlling) unit and software for the student computers.

Teachers (within a home or at a school) have the ability to:
  • Control student computers remotely (to turn on/off, navigate, etc.)

  • Send messages to students (reminders, encouragement, helpful hints, etc.)

  • Limit web browsing or limit specific sites

  • Blank student screens

  • Administer a test (sent directly to student; scored automatically)

  • Demonstrate programs or showcase websites by showing teacher screen to student(s)

  • Remotely access student computer to assist them navigate online
What I Liked
The ability to share information across computers was wonderful. With LanSchool, I could search out a particular educational video and then show that screen to my kids so we both could watch it without crowding around one main computer. To prevent unauthorized "browsing", I could take control of their computer (and later restore with a quick click).

Having the ability to see what is currently being viewed on each student computer was a wonderful benefit. Some may find this intrusive; I find it good parenting to provide accountability for my students. I feel more comfortable letting a student take my laptop to a more quiet place to work when I know I can check on what they are doing. Are they sneaking a quick online game or checking in to a social networking site during school time? Then I can blank out their screen and send them a warning or instruction for redirecting them. I can even snap a picture of their screen as proof if necessary.

Another feature I really liked was the ability to create up to 100 question tests (true/false and multiple choice with the ability to import graphics e.g. math graph). You save the tests and you can prompt your student to take them at any time. Testing by computer is a good skill to have. There is some time invested in creating the test, but with 6 kids, I'll be able to reuse those tests with subsequent students. And the best part? The test is automatically scored and results posted to teacher's computer.

I was recently using an interactive computer program with my 5 and 7 year olds and found another great use for LanSchool. Unable to confidently navigate through the program on their own, I took control of their screen and navigated through the program while they followed along. If I had an older student working independently who needed assistance, he could just send me a quick message with his problem.

For those with an iPad, iTouch, or iPhone, there is a way to sync your unit with LanSchool as well. So you can carry that around and have a view of what your students are doing on their computers.
Technical Details
The LanSchool website does a dynamite job of explaining and demonstrating the key features of their software. You can watch a guided tour explaining their product. They also have very helpful tutorials demonstrating every feature.

Their Tech Support was exceptional. When I first tried to download the product, I had a question. I didn't realize I was calling before office hours; an operator answered and explained the tech staff was not yet in the office. I received a very prompt call back minutes after their office hours began.

Later, I had some difficulty with the testing feature. The LanSchool representative spent over an hour on the phone assisting me. He was very helpful and with my permission was able to remotely control my computer to assist in resolving my problem. I would not hesitate to call them for additional assistance; they were very friendly and answered calls in a very timely manner.

Purchasing Information
If this sounds like a program you might find helpful in your school, you may first want to check out the fully-functioning trial version available to review for 30 days. LanSchool Home version is available for $99 which includes updates and tech support. Orders can be placed online.

For school pricing quotes, contact LanSchool Technologies by phone (toll-free 877-370-5546) or e-mail (quotes@lanschool.com). The company offers volume discounts and competitive upgrades, as well as site licenses for districts and K-12 schools. LanSchool even offers a searchable database to assist schools in locating grant funding to purchase the software.

For information on a free version available to Teachers, Librarians, Technology Directors and Administrators, check out LanSchool Lite .

Contact Information

1-877-370-5546
http://www.lanschool.com

Take some time to read testimonials from LanSchool users . And I encourage you to read what other reviewers thought of this product at the TOS Crew Blog. I personally think this is a tremendous product offered at a very reasonable price with exciting possibilities for any classroom.


Disclaimer: I was provided with a license to use LanSchool Home version for the purpose of reviewing the product and sharing our experience with it. No other compensation was received. The opinions expressed are my own.

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