Classroom Management | News
LanSchool Acquired, Releases Free Classroom Management Console
- By Dian Schaffhauser
LanSchool Technologies, whose flagship product gives teachers the power to manage and monitor computers and other devices within the classroom, is on the move. During this week's ISTE 2011 conference in Philadelphia, the company announced that it was being acquired by a non-education vendor. At the same time it said it had just upgraded its main application and that it would soon release a free new management console designed specifically for technology coordinators.
A private cloud vendor in Indiana is buying the Utah-based company. Stoneware, which offers webNetwork 6, said in a statement that it's acquiring LanSchool. By integrating LanSchool's technology into its own offerings, Stoneware expects to provide customers in multiple sectors--not just education--with just-in-time management in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) or 1:1 environment and at the same time deliver cloud computing capabilities to school districts.
Stoneware's primary product lets users deploy a private or hybrid cloud and access it via a browser in order to get web-based delivery of data center resources.
LanSchool's classroom management program, which also goes by the name of LanSchool, lets teachers view, monitor, and control student access to the Internet. An integrated solution will let students enter a class, join the network with his or her own device, and have the device managed by LanSchool.
"The decision to acquire LanSchool is based on two factors. First, their ability to deliver functionality into a key segment of our customer base," said Rick German, CEO and founder of Stoneware. "By leveraging webNetwork and LanSchool, our customers will be able to accelerate the adoption of cloud technologies in the education space... Second, the explosion of mobile devices and BYOD initiatives across all verticals is driving the need for on-demand management solutions. This solution will not just allow management of the device, but also provide context-aware services to that device. This will allow users to experience cloud-based resources in the context of the device they are using, allowing for a richer experience."
Stoneware said its cloud technology has been deployed in 400 customer data centers, many in the K12 space. LanSchool will be run as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stoneware. The buyer said it will continue supporting LanSchool customers and plans to invest in and enhance LanSchool’s products.
At the same time that LanSchool was going public with its acquisition, the company was also releasing version 7.6 of its software.
"Schools have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars filling their classrooms with technology in an effort to help teachers become better educators and students become better learners," said President Dana Doggett. "With LanSchool 7.6, teachers can feel confident that students are engaged and on task."
The new release allows teachers to:
- Automate the importing of class lists from any student information system that can export CSV files;
- Send and collect directories for transfer of files to computers in the classroom;
- Blank screens before login to keep students focused on the teacher instead of on their displays;
- Watch student monitors scroll by one‐by‐one through a ScreenFeed feature;
- Manage tests, including adding students who arrive late to tests; and
- Administer multiple test types, including essay or blue book exams.
LanSchool version 7.6 also adds support for Ubuntu Linux, Windows Mulitpoint Server 2011, and the Vernier LabQuest science device. With the addition of Linux support, the program can now simultaneously manage devices running Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.
Integration with Windows Multipoint Server enables one host computer to be shared by multiple students in a virtual desktop scheme and for all user sessions to be managed by the teacher as if each student were on a dedicated machine. With WMS, a single Windows computer supports multiple users simultaneously, with each user interacting with the applications on his or her own monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
Also, teachers can now manage the Vernier LabQuest device, a scientific probe for diagnostics, in the classroom.
"When I use LanSchool and Vernier’s Logger Pro software with my seventh grade students, they cheer out loud," said Glen Westbroek, a science teacher at Orem Junior High School in Utah and recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. "I give the students a data‐collection challenge and project the entire classroom’s graphs as they collect scientific data in real time. My students get excited, ask questions of other students about their data, and learn from each other. The combination of LanSchool and Vernier creates a truly collaborative science classroom."
Finally, LanSchool will also shortly be releasing a new management console--the LanSchool Tech Console--which is designed to help a tech coordinator manage, monitor, and communicate with hundreds of individual classroom computers remotely from a central console. That console, which will be available free to K-12 and higher education institutions during its first year of release, can display the current state of all computers under management within a district or school.
With the Tech Console, coordinators will be able to install applications, upgrades, and updates and report on inventory and technology usage. The application will also allow the user to communicate with teachers in the classroom via live chat or remote control to guide them through solving issues or alert them of potential problems.
The Tech Console is expected to provide a means to check the security settings on each computer and verify automatic updates. The user will also be able to set and optimize power consumption levels on all computers saving school energy costs.
"We received a great deal of input from tech coordinators on their specific needs," said Ben Cahoon, LanSchool vice president. "We believe that most desktop management products have become too complex for most schools. Tech Coordinators need powerful, yet simple tools to help them manage the computers they are responsible for."
Tech Console is expected to ship in late July 2011.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.