Connect your homeschool computers via LanSchool
I didn’t expect to like LanSchool Classroom Management Software.
I had lots of preconceived ideas about what it would (and wouldn’t do), and though some of the features (like the ability to create and implement tests) aren’t really practical for us, I was surprised and pleased to find that the software had several things that would make computer use in our household run just a bit more smoothly. And, as every homeschooling parent knows, anything that makes life just a little bit simpler is worth checking into.
LanSchool offers a 30-day trial; download it, try it out for yourself. It may or may not be the right fit for your family, but it’s certainly worth exploring. Even if you don’t need all the features, the free version, which is limited to monitoring of student computers, would be a welcome addition to almost any parent’s supervision repertoire.
Before you go, though, here are some of my misconceptions – and how Lanschool software changed my mind:
It would be a hassle to install.
Nope. Download the files, unzip them, and click on either the teacher setup or student setup. A couple more clicks, maybe mark a couple checkboxes… and it’s ready to go. It was really just that fast – a couple of minutes per computer, and we were up and running. A very pleasant surprise.
It would be too resource-heavy for our older, slower, computers.
Wrong again. This really shocked me. My “parent computer” is about six years old, running XP. Not only did LanSchool install easily, it didn’t slow or freeze the computer, and even better, there was zero lag time when viewing the student computers. (LanSchool works on both Windows and Mac operating systems. )
Chatting and messaging between computers was also fast – and quite amusing the first time I sent something to the unsuspecting child in the middle of a math lesson. (“Mom, you’re talking to me on the computer? That’s just WEIRD. Why don’t you just yell at me instead?)
It’d be silly, because I’m never more then one room away.
Using LanSchool means that I can check in on the kids’ computer use, be it school time or leisure time, with little disruption of either my, or their, current activities. For the kids – I can peek in, make sure school is happening, without the “mom is standing over my shoulder” distraction. For me – I can take a quick look, with no risk of getting sidetracked from my daily computer tasks.
Will they complain about lack of privacy?
It was mentioned initially by my oldest (14), but mostly as a token objection that hasn’t come up since. I already monitor their computer use, and via computer is a bit less uncomfortable then walking up behind them. If they have nothing to hide, there’s nothing to worry about.
Messages and Chat capability
This will probably waste as much time as it saves for us, but it’s a nice convenience. I’ve found it the most useful while giving directions for how to do something on the computer. I was able to lead my 12-yr-old through printing over the network to certain specifications, and for each instruction I gave him, I was able to view exactly what he was doing on the computer, including where the mouse was moving to – which, a couple of times, was a good indicator that he was looking in the wrong place for a particular setting.
I already supervise my kids on the computer.
This is true, as far as it goes – but I have to work to do it. LanSchool means that I don’t even have to stop what I’m working on – and I can check on multiple kids at the same time.
Additional features, useful in other circumstances then ours.
If we had more computers so that the kids were able to regularly use more software for schooling, the application blocking would be more useful to us. Haven’t had an excuse to use the internet blocking on any of the kids yet beyond verifying that it worked – odd, now that they know I can easily observe, they’re being very careful to stay on task.
Some of the features, like the ability to lock down and clear all students screens at once, are geared toward larger classrooms, but some homeschool teachers might find it useful. For me, if I want everyone’s attention at once, I’m much more likely to be in their immediate presence.
To see what other crew members had to say about this product, check out the TOS Homeschool Crew blog post, Lanschool Technologies.
**I received this product for free as a member of the 2010-11 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew so that I could provide you with an honest review of it by our family.**