Ed Tech Explainer

7 Questions with Lenovo + LanSchool: A One-Stop-Shop Approach to School Technology with an Emphasis on Inclusivity in Classrooms

Lenovo Education Software Leader on What Sets Lenovo and LanSchool Apart

Keeping up with the thousands of ed tech solutions available to K–12 schools is challenging; startups and well-established providers alike are frequently announcing new features and integrations, expanding into new lanes, or contracting to focus on the areas in which they see the biggest impact for students.

THE Journal’s 7 Questions: Ed Tech Explainer series gives ed tech leaders an opportunity to summarize their solution(s), explain how their product helps educators and schools, and give a quick overview for K–12 decision-makers – sort of an extended (but not too extended) elevator pitch.

For this installment of 7 Questions, THE Journal asked Lenovo’s Education Software General Manager Coby Gurr to explain how Lenovo’s K–12 division and particularly its classroom management software LanSchool emphasize inclusivity, accessibility, and a holistic, integrated approach to school technology. Learn more about Lenovo EDU’s line of hardware, software, and services that aim to provide a “comprehensive learning environment.”

THE Journal: What are some challenges students with special learning needs may encounter when using classroom technology?

COBY GURR: Classroom technology can be a powerful tool for driving improved learning outcomes, but a significant challenge for both teachers and students can be getting acclimated to that technology. Teachers have to feel comfortable using the tech in order to effectively guide their students through navigating it.

Once comfortable, another challenge can be student engagement. Students with special learning needs might require a more hands-on approach to ensure the content is resonating. They might also need help focusing because they could be easily distracted or have a barrier to the technology that other students do not encounter.

Accessibility can also prove to be an obstacle. School websites, educational platforms, and resources need to be accessible to all students, including those with disabilities and those with low digital literacy levels. Schools can look into assistive technology like screen reader software, magnifiers, text to speech programs, and even special purpose computers that are designed to accommodate a specific disability which a student may not have access to at home.

THE Journal: How can classroom management software such as Lenovo’s LanSchool be used to better serve students and educators’ needs and build more inclusive classrooms?

GURR: In an inclusive classroom, classroom management software plays an essential role to help guide learning and maximize teaching time. With LanSchool, teachers can gain visibility into what their students are working on, help to redirect students’ attention when online, and address student questions in real-time no matter where they’re located. Lenovo’s LanSchool solution, in particular, has proven to be an effective tool at supporting teachers, offering a variety of features that can help them create engaging, more accessible, and collaborative learning experiences for all.

For example, LanSchool’s Screen Monitoring feature allows teachers to keep an eye on students’ progress during class and subtly provide redirection or assistance where needed. When students have a question, but don’t necessarily want to feel singled out, they can use the Messaging feature to quietly contact the teacher and get their question answered via chat. Teachers have found this feature helpful to discreetly check in on a student who may need extra support. There’s also a Push Website feature for educators to automatically launch a specific website on a student’s computer when they’re having trouble finding it.

THE Journal: How can classroom management software support and improve student engagement, and why does that matter for student outcomes?

GURR: Classroom management solutions are designed to encourage communication between the teacher and student. The ability to chat with a student during class about an issue can help to build confidence. Additionally, the ability for teachers to see what students are working on, give direct feedback, and subtly guide them by sharing their screen or directing them to a website allows for a more personal touch where the student can walk away feeling supported and empowered. Research has shown that higher student engagement leads to better academic performance, higher graduation rates, stronger performance on standardized tests, and even higher occupational achievement after school.

THE Journal: What features have been built into Lenovo solutions that would support special needs classrooms, specifically?

GURR: Communication is the key. All students need to feel as though they’re being heard, seen, and supported, but that is especially so in the case of a special needs student. I’ve mentioned several of the features that can specifically support these classrooms but a new feature we recently introduced will prove especially useful in this setting. The Co-Teaching feature gives multiple teachers from different classrooms, or even different locations, the ability to remotely engage with students during the same class session. This allows counselors to remotely join a class to secure the necessary information to help an at-risk student, or paraprofessionals to provide dedicated support for a special education student in an inclusive classroom.

THE Journal: With the pandemic ushering in an age of hybrid learning, how can classroom management software like LanSchool ensure all students have an inclusive and accessible learning experience?

GURR: There are many things that can cause anxiety for students while distance learning. For example, they could be worrying that they can’t get timely answers to their questions, or they may not be sure they are doing the assignment correctly.

Teachers can help reduce these concerns by providing a real-time, direct line of communication using features such as instant messaging and raise hand, where students can “speak up” without the fear of judgment from their classmates. They can also get more one-on-one assistance for clarity on assignments and receive guidance on their questions or even get help with their devices. With LanSchool, teachers can track the battery status of every student device and alert them to when it needs to be charged, which can be especially helpful for special needs students who may need more help monitoring their device usage, preventing inconvenient shutdowns.

THE Journal: What sets LanSchool apart from other K-12 classroom management software being offered right now?

GURR: LanSchool has offered classroom management solutions to schools around the world for over 30 years. In this time, we’ve grown to truly know the teachers that use our software and understand what matters to them. This has allowed us to tailor the technology and incorporate the features that empower them with approachable, intuitive solutions that also help students build confidence in a tech-forward world.

As part of Lenovo, we’re able to further drive digital equity through the hardware we supply. When purchasing Lenovo devices, schools can get LanSchool included in their Lenovo device purchase, which makes it a holistic and affordable solution. Schools can also access a suite of software solutions for security and device management. Ultimately, Lenovo provides an ecosystem purpose-built for education, allowing teachers to guide students more effectively as they safely explore online, learn, and grow.

THE Journal: Besides classroom management, what other types of software or educational technology can help support a more inclusive educational environment?

GURR: There are tools that give students multiple options for how to interact with a lesson, complete an assignment, or share information with the class. Solutions like Google Creativity apps give each student the ability to find an outlet that suits their individual strengths — whether it be writing, video, public presentations, or other creative channels.

Software that is designed to safeguard the learning experience should also be a priority in all classrooms. Security software like Lenovo NetFilter combines internet filtering and threat protection to help educators better monitor student-accessible content and keep students safer in mixed network and device environments. It can also alert educators of other digital dangers that may occur, like cyberbullying, threats of violence, and even suicidal ideation. For added security measures, software like Absolute and SentinelOne can help schools’ IT administrators keep track of student devices and help to protect them from malware or phishing attacks.

Learn more at the Lenovo Education website or at LanSchool.com.