As we get more digitized and devices are used more and more in and out of the classroom it is important to know what Classroom Management software is and what features it has.
Classroom management software is loaded onto phones, tablets, computers and other devices to control the attention and abilities of students on their devices. It also contains features like live support, screen projection, sharing tools and files.
Further features of Classroom Management Software are:
- USB Blocking
- Internet / Website Blocking
- Screen Sharing
- Raise Hand (Digitally)
- Remote Control
- File Sharing
- Group Text Chat
- Private Text Chat
- Thumbnail Monitoring
- Blank Screens
- Push Out a Website
- Remote Start Applications
- Shared Interactive Whiteboard
- Class Digital Journal
- Selective Grouping and Control
In this article we will also discuss these important topics prior to purchase:
- Value and Reason for Purchase
- Type of License
- Initial and Ongoing Budget
- Technical Requirements
- Teacher Training
- Support and Maintenance
Classroom Management Software is simply any software you use to manage your classroom. When we say live classroom management software we generally mean software installed on the teacher and student computers that allows for monitoring and control of the classroom as it actually takes place.
It allows the teacher to talk to the students, assign work, project their screen, block USB ports, block certain websites, remote control student computers and much more. The software has now been expanded to control hand held devices like phones and tablets so that the teacher can control the focus of the students to the lesson at hand.
The ability to control the digital assets in classes is extremely important in today’s classrooms and this software helps you to do that. The added benefit is that the students don’t need to be in the same physical classroom and can be anywhere on the campus.
That means that any student that would like to attend can for general interest classes or for those students at the same level. This allows you to be more flexible with delivery especially in a large school or campus. Important
Here is a list of the common features of Live Classroom Management Software and some short descriptions of what you should expect.
The ability to stop students from using USB ports which is generally done on computers supplied by the person running the course whether that is K-12, VET, Universities or a private organisation.
This is done to prevent malicious software from entering the network as well as removal of large assets without approval. This forces student to email or use an online file transfer website which can be monitored and both of which generally have virus and malicious software removal tools.
Internet / Website Blocking
The ability to turn off or on student internet access is a great feature for the classroom allowing teachers to either focus the students attention or act as a reward for completing their work. This is assuming of cause that they do not need the internet to research their current task.
Website blocking is good to restrict content for safety or to stop the students getting on social media and game and focus them on websites used for the task at hand. You can either block individual websites or block all websites and only allow a certain few.
The ability for the teacher to share their own screen so that they can present the current lesson or to showcase a students work is a great feature. Not only does it give the student a personalized view of what you are doing.
This allows the teacher or student to walk through a task, project or lesson for everyone to watch what they did or to demo the work they have completed. This also means there is no strained necks or special treatment is needed for people who are vision impaired so as not to single them out in class.
Raise Hand (Digitally)
The ability to silently let the teacher know they need help is a simple and yet very effective feature of classroom management software. It allows shy students to ask for help. Then the teacher either through private chat or remote control to help the student without alerting any other students in the class.
This saves the student also from being embarrassed if they are finding the particular subject quite hard. If the teacher is getting multiple requests for help, just like a voting system, they get instant feedback on their presentation of the last topic.
I also use this or the group chat as a way for students in a class to let me know they have completed their work by raising their hand or saying so in the chat.
Remote Control Software
While the students are working the teacher can check in with students by asking to take control of their computer and look at their work. This feature allows them to remotely help the student when they ask for it via the raise hand system or text chat.
The remote control allows for
- View Only mode or
- Control mode
View Only mode is fairly straight forward and only allows to Teacher to see what the student is doing. With the software you can decide whether to notify the student in View Only mode or not as it is a way to check in with students on where they are.
Why you may not wish to let the student know in View Only mode is that you don’t want to interrupt the student completing the task or make them feel embarrassed or suffer a confidence hit that you are checking in on them.
Control mode then allows the teacher mouse and keyboard control to support the student in completing a task or demonstrating where they went wrong. When in control mode the teacher can also decide whether to disable the students mouse and/or keyboard as they help the student.
With Control mode the student is normally notified that the teacher would like to get control of their computer prior to the teacher helping. This and a message on the screen lets the student know the teacher is there.
Most of the Classroom Management software also adds a folder to the students desktop that is used for sharing files with the teacher. The teacher can send files out to all or selected students that gets put on their machine for them to use.
Once the work is completed they can put the files back in this folder for the teacher to remotely collect as evidence of the completion of their work.
As the course is running the teacher has the ability to do pop quizzes that once answered by the students she can share the anonymous results to the class. This is great for know when students are really ready to move on. Often students will say they have completed the work or understand so as not to be singled out and this is a way for them to save embarrassment or anonymously ask for more time.
The quizzes can be prepared in advance or made up on the spot and you can put the results in the digital journal if you wish to keep a record of them. We will discuss the journal later in the article.
Group Text Chat
Just like a normal class chat this is a great way for the students to engage in a social media style chat as well as engaging normally with other students. The advantages of a class group chat is that they can post links to websites and share key topics with other students while the class continues. Formalizing social learning that always used to happen outside the classroom in a digital way also allows the teacher to moderate and use it as another form of feedback on what she is teaching.
This social learning allows students to share previous content or support other students while the class is running and means the teacher does not have to answer every question making for a quicker and smoother class. It builds the students self confidence in the topic as well as allows the teacher to chime in if a correction needs to be made.
Private Text Chat
Just like the group chat students can chat with each other and the teacher one on one to ask questions and socialise. This is great for the shy or embarrassed student to ask a question or ask for more clarification of the teacher as the class is running. It is also another way for students to request help for a remote desktop session as mentioned above.
As the course is running the teacher has access to thumb nail views of the students desktops, phones or tablets so she can keep an eye on what they are doing. The teacher can expand this view by simply hovering their mouse over the thumb nail to see a bigger image of the students device.
They can also then right click and remote control the computer from here as well. This is probably the most important of the features in the Classroom Management software for the teacher as real time monitoring of where the students are lets them know when to move on or when a student needs help.
This allows them to control the classroom and make sure it runs smoothly as well as making sure each student truely understands and is keeping up with the class.
Whether you are blanking out a single student or students screen that is not paying attention or the whole class this is a very useful feature to get the attention of the class. It brings the focus back to the teacher and is also great for forcing breaks for students.
Push Out Website
When the teacher mentions an online resource they can push this out to the students so they can follow along or have it available to view once the lesson is finished. This solves the inevitable question of “What was that site again?” that you always get at the end of a presentation.
Remote Start Applications
The ability to remotely assist students with starting applications on their devices just saves time when the student can not find the application. If I am in the same physical classroom I normally go and show them personally. But if they are at the other end of the campus I may just remotely start the application for all students.
I do however prefer to remote control a single student or show the whole class how to do it again via screen sharing in case more than one student could not find the application. The remote start the application is the last resort due to the fact that if you don’t actually show them how to start the application then they will ask you again next time anyway.
Shared Interactive Whiteboard
This simple concept of a shared whiteboards allows the Teacher and Students to interact on a virtual whiteboard where everyone can participate. The teacher can turn on and off shared control for the students. Unlike a traditional whiteboard you have more graphics tools available and can bring in pictures and other richer content.
Class Digital Journal
The ability to keep a record of what is happening in a particular class as a digital journal is great for the teachers feedback and performance reviews but also for the student to revisit what they did in that class.
The Teacher can choose what goes into this digital journal for that class and what the Teacher and Students can see. Most of the features of the software allow for some sort of interaction with the digital journal.
Selective Grouping and Control
With all of the above features except the remote control software you can select one or many students that will be effected. You can name the students devices in the class and in some of the software put them into work groups as well.
This means you can have different teams of students working on different tasks as well as who is effected by each feature you enable.
Some Products to Review
While there are many suppliers of general classroom management software for the Live Classroom Management software there is only a few big players worth looking at.
There is one Open Source (Free to use) software for commercial or personal use as long as you don’t try to sell their software on wards you are generally not breaking their license agreement. We will also have a quick look at the other main paid tools on the market at the moment.
Veyon (Open Source)
This is the only open source or free to use one on the market at the moment. It was previously called iTalc before being re-branded and the front end being given a face lift. The product is growing but is still a little clunky looking and misses some of the wizards and automatic tools the paid versions have.
This is normally expected from an open source project as it is created with the donation of time by developers. As an entry level tool it is great and has all the basic features you would expect from a Live Classroom Management software package.
Lan school has been around for a long time and is owned by Lenovo Software. It has all the features of the other Classroom Management software packages as well as its new Air product that integrates to google classroom with a web interface.
It is worth signing up for and having a look at as each of the suppliers come out with a HTML5 web interface. This means the teacher does not need to install anything when using the web interface. They boast a 12 million user install base.
Net Support boasts a 16 million install base and not only has been around for 25 years but also a nice range of additional products to help with your other classroom management needs. While the asset management solution is a good solution it then has to be compared with the bigger IT asset management products.
If you wanted to single source from one supplier this might be an option for you. The product is feature rich as you would expect from the market leader but also has a price tag to match. Net Support has been thoroughly tested and will work with large amounts of computers at the same time.
This smaller player in the market with a simpler interface is a reasonable alternative if you don’t have 100’s or 1000’s of assets you are trying to monitor. For a simple classroom and tool set it is great but I have not seen it work on large amounts of computers and is not as feature rich as its competitors.
Net Control 2
This is one of my personal favorites and one I have used many times in the past. It has a simple interface but all the features you want. I specifically like the cheaper single class entry licence called Small Class which allows you with 1 Teacher and 15 student connections.
The reason I like this is because it is the cheapest and works in well with when we are teaching online to a classroom at a time.
This not well known software has all the main features of the big players in the market but also worth a quick look and they have a good demonstration video on their website to give you a basic run down of some of the main features.
Another not well known product that has all the core features and boasts the ability to video stream to 60 clients with loss less transmission across a cheap WiFi.
While most of the products require a cabled or strong wifi and this ability is worth checking out if you have a poor WiFi connection and are not using cabled networking.