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New software lets teachers control student devices
With Casper Focus, teachers can focus students on a single app, guide classes through apps, or temporarily restrict students to a single app on their iPad. If the classroom is equipped with an Apple TV, teachers can display from their own device or prompt a student to display from his or her iPad. And if a student forgets his passcode, the teacher can reset it without disrupting the lesson.
The most chaotic times during a class period are the transitions from one activity to another, said Dave Saltmarsh, a former educator and IT administrator who is now field marketing manager for JAMF. He said JAMF designed Casper Focus to “answer those pain points.”
Teachers are often reluctant to use quiz apps with iPads, because these aren’t secure, Saltmarsh added; students can leave the app and go somewhere else on their device. But Casper Focus “lets you ensure that kids are locked into the assessment,” he said—and teachers can do this right from their classroom, without involving IT administrators.
Using classroom management software with mobile devices
Makers of classroom management software have released apps that extend some of their functionality to mobile devices as well, though not all features of their software work on all platforms. For example, Apple so far has not allowed providers of classroom management software to send an image of a student’s iPad screen to the teacher’s console.
NetSupport has upgraded its NetSupport School software to support iOS, Android, Kindle, and Chromebook devices. With the latest version of NetSupport School, teachers can broadcast their screen to students’ devices, broadcast messages to specific students, and launch chats and student surveys, said marketing coordinator Allison Hedges—regardless of what devices their students are using.
If students are using Android devices or Chromebooks, teachers also can view thumbnail images of students’ screens, launch websites or applications on student devices, and lock down or “blank” students’ screens—but as of press time, these features were not yet available for iOS devices, Hedges said.
The latest version of Stoneware’s LanSchool software also supports some features for iOS and Android devices, such as the ability for teachers to broadcast their screen to students’ devices.
Students must have the LanSchool Student app on their device to allow this functionality. The iOS version of this app includes a built-in browser that allows schools to limit their students’ web use by “whitelisting” and/or “blacklisting” websites, but the Android version lacked this capability as of press time, said marketing manager Greg Tan.
Netop’s Vision software enables teachers to share their screen with any student device, but locking student iPads or Android tablets is not available yet.
“A lot of classroom management products are trying to take the exact feature set that worked in PC classrooms and labs and overlay it onto iPads. That’s not what educators want,” said Cindy Banks, director of marketing for Netop. “What teachers want are the tools that help them teach effectively in the new paradigm—they need specific tools to fit the technology.”
Even companies not traditionally known for MDM or classroom management software have developed programs that give teachers some level of control over their students’ mobile device use.
For instance, Samsung has developed software that enables teachers to control students’ Galaxy Note tablets as part of its Samsung School solution. And Promethean’s ClassFlow software, which was designed to facilitate teaching with technology, enables some degree of teacher control over student devices as well.
Follow Editorial Director Dennis Pierce on Twitter: @eSN_Dennis.