According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14.2 million computers were in schools across the country in 2005-2006, a ratio of one for every four students and more than 20 times the number in schools in 1984-1985. Along with the tremendous opportunities for student learning afforded by this trend comes the risk of distraction and inappropriate use of computers and the Internet by students. Classroom management software was developed to address these concerns and to help teachers maximize the instructive capabilities of classroom computers.
The first program was created by LanSchool in 1986, and as the number of classroom computers has increased, so has the number of companies offering their own programs and features. Classroom management software gives teachers complete control over every computer in their classroom or lab, as well as a variety of presentation and collaborative tools. Nearly all are able to show thumbnail images of every student’s screen and to allow teachers to block or allow programs, or lock keyboards and screens to command attention. More recent innovations include features such as chat functions between teachers and individuals or groups, shared Web browsing between teachers and students, remote installation of software from one computer to many, and seamless integration with student information systems and other administrative programs. Here are some of the many programs on the market to consider using in your district.
Vision6, Starting at $35 per computer
Administrative software maker Netop acquired GenevaLogic in 2008, adding the company’s Vision classroom management software to Netop’s lineup of communications, management and instruction programs. Vision6 allows teachers to share screens for demonstrations, share and collect files, and take remote control of individual computers. Available plug-in programs broaden its capabilities and include Surf-Lock, which controls and monitors Internet access, App-Control, which blocks and allows access to applications, and Vision@Hand, which transfers teacher controls to a wireless PDA.
NetSupport School, $1,200 for 25 computers
This classroom management program from NetSupport provides the capability to power on or off all computers in a classroom, generate and store student attendance records, create interactive lesson plans, view thumbnail images of student screens, and monitor and control applications or Internet use. Unique features include student journal functions, printer management capabilities, real-time keyboard monitoring, and Internet co-browsing, which allows teachers to access and scroll through Web pages while displaying them on each student screen.
Sync, $799 per classroom
Most famous for its interactive whiteboards, SMART Technologies has introduced Sync, the eighth and latest version of the company’s classroom management software, formerly known as SynchronEyes. In addition to the classroom control and monitoring functions of previous versions, Sync includes new features such as a redesigned user interface, an Administrator tool that stores important class information such as student names and ID numbers, and a redesigned secure chat capability that works with individuals, groups or an entire class.
Remote Desktop 3
$299 for 10 managed computers, $499 for unlimited
For Mac users, Apple’s Remote Desktop provides sophisticated capabilities for managing classroom machines. Teachers or administrators can distribute software, guide students through tasks, and create detailed hardware and software reports about just the machines in a classroom or about an unlimited number of Macs across a school or district network. Other features include an Automator tool to set any of 30 system preferences on all computers, screen sharing with a “curtain view” to block students from viewing teacher actions when necessary, and a variety of remote system status indicators.