Wednesday, October 6, 2010

LanSchool Home - A Review

Product: LanSchool Home Version

Price: $99 / home license (monitor up to 3 computers)

Company: LanSchool Technologies, LLC

To Purchase: LanSchool Home Version

Other Products: LanSchool for Classroom Use

Age Range: Teacher (and his/her students)

Brief Introduction:

LanSchool is a classroom management software solution for parents who wish to monitor their students computer use. Check out the brochure.

In-Depth Look:

Parents want to keep their children safe on the internet. They also want to make sure that their children are doing what they are supposed to be doing while on the computer.

LanSchool helps make this possible. As the teacher, you install the teacher mode on your computer. Then you install the student version on the computers that your children will be using (up to 3 computers).

Once the program is up and running, the options are many. The program can be used to monitor what your children are doing by viewing their screens. Now if they are playing a game instead of doing their research, you will know. You can also take control of their screens, which is handy when they need your assistance.

You can allow your children to view your screen. This is a great way to show everyone in the family the same thing at the same time. Want to show a video about the rain forest, but everyone can't see around the same monitor? Everyone can sit in front of their own screen and watch it at the same time. Want to show everyone how to run the new math program that you bought? Again, everyone can sit at their own monitors and watch.

A really neat feature is the ability to draw on your screen. You can draw circles, arrows, text, etc right on your monitor and the children can see it.

Some of the available features are
- Send message to student. This shows up as a pop-up that your child can close after reading.

- Chat. This allows for back and forth communication between you and your child.

- Block internet access. You can block some sites or the whole internet.

- Snapshots. You can take a "picture" of the student's screen and save it. This could be great for portfolios, using it to take screen shots of online quiz scores and completed activities.

- Survey. Imagine everyone is in a different room of the house. Send a quick question out to the bunch. "Is everyone done with their schoolwork?" "Is anyone ready for lunch?" The results show up on your teacher console.

-Tests. You can make your own tests. True/False or Multiple Choice. The test shows up on their monitor. The results show up on your console. Easy to take. Super easy to grade.

- Blank Screen. This is a neat one. You can blank the screen on all the student monitors. A great way to get everyone's attention.

Below is a snapshot showing a chat box. You and your child can send messages back and forth instantly.

The below snapshot is of "send a message". The box pops-up for your student to read. They can close down the box after they read it.

This snapshot is of the default message "Stop playing games." It shows up in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.

LanSchool Home has many helpful uses for protecting your child on the internet. You can see what they are doing and block certain functions and sites.

It also has many helpful uses for homeschooling. You can assist on your child's computer. Your child can watch you on your computer. Snapshots make for permanent records of work completed and grades achieved. Customizable tests and instant scores are convenient.

So what did I think? When I first heard about this program, I was pessimistic. I thought this was a wonderful idea for classroom use. But I really didn't see how it could be of much use for my family. But once I loaded the program and began trying it out, I was surprised at just how much it had to offer.

Helpful Tip: Make sure you have changed all settings back to where you want them and have exited the teacher console before turning off your computer. I was playing around with the features on my laptop and turned off all access to the internet on the desktop. Then without thinking about it, I shut down my laptop. Well, the setting stayed in effect and no one could access the internet on the desktop. So, I had to turn the laptop back on and go into the teacher's console to "fix it". At least I know now that the feature works, right? Hee-hee.

To read other reviews, click here.

Disclaimer: I received LanSchool Home Version free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

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