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Free classroom-management software available

Netop, LanSchool now offer scaled-down versions of their products free of charge

Free classroom-management software available
In this economic climate, it isn’t always possible to get funding for even very inexpensive and essential software.

In this economic climate, it isn’t always possible to get funding for even very inexpensive and essential software.

In what could be the first steps in a movement sure to please educators and IT administrators alike, two makers of classroom-management software programs are offering “light,” or scaled-down, versions of their most popular products free of charge.

On Aug. 26, Netop introduced MyVision Basic and MyVision Free. A few days later, LanSchool Technologies LLC introduced the latest version of its LanSchool software, v7.4, as well as LanSchool Lite–a free version of LanSchool.

According to Suzanne Balter, global education solutions manager for Netop, the company wants all teachers to have access to some degree of classroom-management software so they can maximize the use of technology to improve student learning.

“In this difficult economic climate, it isn’t always possible to get funding for even very inexpensive and essential software, so we want to do our part to ensure that teachers will have the most essential tool they need for teaching with computers–the ability to supervise their students’ work,” said Balter.

There are a few differences between the MyVision Basic and Free versions. For example, with Free, teachers can only supervise their students’ computer use; with Basic, teachers can supervise computer use, clear students’ screens, project demonstrations to their desktops, and turn internet access on or off with a button. Both versions, however, let teachers set up and manage multiple classrooms and arrange the layout of these classrooms on the teacher’s computer screen to match the classrooms’ physical layout.

Although Free isn’t as complete as Basic, it still gives teachers several tools for classroom management. With Free, teachers can see a thumbnail view of every computer screen in a networked classroom (there is no limit on the number of computers that can be supported with either the Free or Basic version), or they can call up a full-screen view of any student’s computer.

“This enables teachers to see what students are doing while they work on computers, monitor web browsing, assess student progress, identify students who need extra help, and improve classroom time on task,” explained Balter. “MyVision Free provides a subset of the features in MyVision Basic and may be seamlessly upgraded at any time.”

A one-year subscription to the Basic version costs $199, which covers one teacher and an unlimited number of students.

Both the Basic and Free versions of MyVision are still in beta testing, but they are available for downloading at http://www.netop/myvision.com and include a free subscription to Basic that is valid through December 2009. A one-year subscription for Basic will be available in the U.S. in late 2009, Netop said–and for educators who download the beta version of Basic and purchase a one-year subscription before Dec. 31, the price will be $149.

To download Free, teachers must first download the free trial of Basic, and then after 30 days the subscription will revert to Free, unless the user chooses to buy a subscription.

Basic and Free work with Windows 2000, XP, and Vista, as well as Mac OS X 10.5, and more operating systems will be available going forward, such as Windows 7, Netop said.

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