Wednesday, October 6, 2010

LanSchool TOS Product Review

LanSchool Technologies has been an award winning provider of classroom management software since 1986. They have partnered with some of the most recognizable names in the computer technology industry in their quest to make easy to use reliable products available to teachers and students.

Mr. Wonderful downloaded LanSchool Home Version about a month ago. We didn't tell the kids what was going on. I figured it would be more fun that way!

LanSchool is a classroom management solution which allows teachers to monitor student activities within a classroom setting. LanSchool Home Version allows up to three computers to be networked at home.

Some of the features include:

•LanSchool is clean, simple and easy-to-use. Teachers love it.
•It is reliable and uses significantly less network bandwidth than other solutions.
•It is complete, no add-ons are required to block the Internet, Applications, Printing and USB drives.
•It keeps working even when students try to disrupt it.
•It costs less and is better supported than any other solution on the market.
•It supports PCs, Macs and Thin Clients such as NComputing, Terminal Services and Citrix.

New features in LanSchool v7.5 include:

•Mac Feature Parity with Windows
•Audio Chat, Listen and Broadcast
•Multicast Video Distribution and Playback
•Keystroke Alerting on Banned Words
•New Wireless Protocol
•Browser Independent Web Limiting and History
•Remote Login
•Clear Desktop Button
•Limit CD/DVD Drives
•Testing Enhancements
•Dual Monitor Support
•20 Additional Customer and UI enhancements

We have two computers at home that share a wireless network. While the kids can use both computers, they primarily use the computer set-up for them in the school room.

I completely understand why this would be such a valuable tool in a classroom setting. I can't imagine trying to monitor 30 students using computers.

LanSchool has a wonderful short video that provides a great guided-tour of their product. You can watch it here.

In our little homeschool setting, however, I found most of the features that are LanSchool's strengths weren't needed. While my kids use the computer for some school work, most of it is for local applications (i.e., math, foreign language, and some science). They know what is expected of them and, well, they do it. As we begin using the internet for research, we have established guidelines for their protection. Again, they follow our instructions. I do not need to monitor their keystrokes. I do not need to keep an eye on them at all times to see what they are doing on the computer. They know our guidelines are in place for their safety and protection. Regardless, the school room is very visible. We can see and hear what they are doing. If I did need to monitor their activities, LanSchool is a wonderful tool and I would use it for the many features it provides.

We ran into a little problem trying to install LanSchool, but found their support to be exceptional. The support person was very helpful and in a short amount of time was able to solve the mystery. We discovered our tiered naming conventions caused a little problem during the install.

Just last week we had a minor crisis on our hands and LanSchool came to the rescue. Rachel had been working on a lengthy lab report when the monitor she was using decided it was time to die. At first she thought it was a joke being played on her by her brother. LanSchool can blank out a student monitor! But not this time. The monitor was dead. May it rest in peace.

So we have a dead monitor and an open Word document that cannot be saved and closed because it cannot be seen. We went to the main computer and was able to "take over" the student computer. I was able to use my mouse and keyboard to not only view her document, but to save it, close the application, and safely shut down the computer. How cool is that?! Rachel was very thankful and LanSchool was the hero of the day!

If you have multiple computers in your home and desire to know what your students are doing, want to be able to share resources (like hard drives and printers), and want the ability to control those computers without ever leaving your seat, LanSchool is a great solution. You can review their technical advantages here and specifications here.

For more information, visit LanSchool's website or call toll-free 877-370-5546.

LanSchool is $99.00 for a home-use license. This includes three years of technical support and upgrades. For site-licenses in education, non-profit, and corporate settings, you can find pricing information here.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

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