Buying network management software for schools

7 Nov 2011
Network Management Software

Dave Smith explains how the latest generation of software can not only keep children concentrating on lessons, but actively improve learning

Have you ever been frustrated by the amount of time it takes a pupil to type in a web address, open an application, or found they’re browsing their favourite website when they should be concentrating on lessons?

If the answer is a resounding “yes” then you need to consider installing classroom management software, and there are a number of such tools on the market, offering teachers a range of features to allow for a faster pace of learning during lessons. So what should you look for?

Take control

Control comes in a number of forms. First of all, the ability to control internet use. The best tools allow high levels of flexibility, with the option to control access to a website right down to a specific page.

This leads to social networking, which has long been a hot topic in secondary schools and is now spreading to primaries: classroom management software allows you to block access to such websites, and the third-party clients that access them.

It’s also possible to control specific applications. Not just to block them, but perhaps to make Word available for a quick launch. This reduces the amount of time pupils have to spend locating applications and convert the time into more productive learning outcomes.

Eyes on every screen

Classroom management software also allows you to monitor all users from one place at a glance; for example, it allows teachers to see what pupils are doing if it’s displayed on the interactive whiteboard while the teacher moves around the class.

This is excellent for quickly picking up teaching points. It also allows pupils to see what their peers are doing in order to gather hints and tips to develop their own work.

If we’re going to develop pupils’ autonomy when using the internet and choosing the tools they need to undertake learning activities, then it’s also important to keep an eye on the websites they’re visiting.

Effective management tools allow the teacher see the history of the sites that pupils are visiting – down to the specific page.

Additionally, it’s possible to monitor keystrokes and see what words are being written; pupils will sometimes display an inappropriate message on their screen and then quickly delete it.

With some tools it’s even possible to monitor keywords and flag up alerts. At first glance these tools can seem rather “Big Brother”, but they have some excellent spin-off benefits in terms of their ability to help analyse the way in which pupils approach tasks.

For example, knowing which applications pupils choose and which websites they visit helps teachers gather a picture of pupils’ overall ICT capability – something that isn’t always apparent when reviewing the outcomes of a piece of work after a lesson.

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