Kids are our most crucial resource, yet it was somewhat troubling that when we pivoted to homeschooling, there appeared to be few schools or communities that had in place plans that they could execute. The result was a mess of policies that pretty much assured that the product would be an unmanageable mess with high complexity, low security, and penniless teacher and student engagement.
One of the offerings that wasn’t a disaster was from Lenovo, which resulted from their timely acquisition of LanSchool.
Let’s talk about that this week.
The problem with trying to provide an education product for remotely training kids used to being in school isn’t a ton different than trying to manage workers who are used to close oversight remotely with two exceptions. Kids have a far shorter attention span, and they don’t yet understand the consequences of their actions.
They don’t want to be in school, they have tons of distractions all around them, and they can’t grasp, as an employee would, the repercussions associated with rebellion or acting out. Classroom material and programs that seem to work fine with a teacher in the room may not work at all if the teacher is remote, and teachers are used to and trained to deal with kids in person, not remotely. They lacked the skills to understand how to operate the technology they’d need safely, how to engage students remotely, and how to effectively deal with remote students acting out (teachers may not even know how to know they were acting out reliably).
We took a system that was designed for a specific use, the classroom, and tried to pivot it to perform in a very different work, remote education, and little or no training attempted to implement the change. It mostly didn’t work, and after a short period, many schools just pulled the plug.
One of the big exceptions to this disastrous outcome was LanSchool, a service and platform that was purchased by Lenovo some time ago. It was a system developed specifically for remote learning by teachers for teachers, and the related process assures both teacher and student engagement.
Combining Lenovo Hardware, LanSchool management software, and security offerings to protect the result, the solution provides a Classroom Learning Guide. This solution promotes positive reinforcement using private teacher-student messaging and, to eliminate distractions and risk, website limitations, and blank screen functions. Collaboration is built into the offering, and teachers can easily do screen sharing with students to rapidly distribute materials, administer quizzes and polls, and to highlight and reward outstanding student work. These rewards can be given either privately or publicly (status and recognition often are the core of driving good behavior). The platform also allows the teacher to manage multiple classroom activities and can be customized to the needs of the class and teacher. This management is from a straightforward platform making it easy to learn and time-efficient to use. Teachers, whether remote or local, are often overworked and underfunded, making it critical this tool be both easy and time-efficient to use.
A recent addition to the tool is LanSchool Air, a Cloud version of the offering, which results in reduced management overhead and far faster deployment times so that schools that weren’t using the tool when they had to go remote weren’t excessively disadvantaged. Granted, having the tool already in place reduces the need for initial training. Still, with resources tight, even schools that were using the tool more traditionally appreciated the shift to the cloud because management then could better be done by the service. This cloud shift is essential because many campuses needed to completely shut down, making providing access to school resources on those campuses problematic.
Hardware includes traditional laptops and the recent addition of VR (virtual reality) headsets for deeper immersion and a more powerful ability for the teacher to control the entire environment.
Educating kids isn’t easy, and suddenly a lot of parents at home are discovering just how un-easy it is. Schools attempting to transition from in-classroom classes to remote learning have broadly mainly failed due to a lack of skills, poor training, little preparation, and ineffective tools. One of the exceptions was schools using Lenovo’s LanSchool program. The service was easy to learn, in many cases already in place, and the schools that had, or did, deploy it report far higher success than with the more common self-built approaches.
What makes the difference is that this is a purpose-designed solution by teachers for teachers. Still, the big difference is that the tool is mature, tested, and once in place, critical to being able to shift rapidly and effectively from in-person classroom training to remote learning. Given the likelihood that we’ll have more pandemic and safety-related events—like demonstrations that will require students to study from home–having a tool that will do this safely, effectively, and fast may be critical to keeping kids from being harmed more than they need to be.
Kids are our greatest resource and deserve the best tools to ensure their safety and education; LanSchool should be on the shortlist for tools you consider to get that job done.