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LanSchool Home Edition Review by Dawn Huffmaster

LanSchool Technologies, LLC
770 West 210 South
Orem, Utah 84058
877-370-5546
http://www.lanschool.com/

LanSchool Home Edition is a home computer network monitoring solution from LanSchool Technologies. LanSchool helps parents remove the distractions that keep students from doing their computer based schoolwork or research and enables parents to be an actual part of their kids' computer use by guiding and directing them as needed, without leaving the main computer. Installation requires that you have the computers you will be using networked together, either wirelessly or hard-wired to the router. The administration program is installed to the parent computer, and the student part of the program is installed on up to three computers that children will be using. This program will work on computers running at least Windows 98 or Intel-based Mac computers running 10.5 or higher. A minimum amount of RAM is required to run the program, and you can install the program on computers that are running either the Windows or the Mac operating system, even if they are different versions. 

LanSchool Home Edition, originally created for a traditional school classroom environment, has many impressive features. Parents can show the their computer screen to students on other computers, students can show their computer screen to their parents or other students on the network, and parents can monitor just one network computer at a time or all of them using the thumbnail feature. Other features are the ability to blank out student screens and display a custom message, send messages back and forth between parent and student, and enable student voting or testing and receive immediate feedback. Parents may also limit student access to the Internet completely, block specific websites while enabling others, allow or deny usage of computer applications, view Internet usage history, and disable the ability to delete the history. Finally, parents may also view snapshots of what is on any computer screen at any given time. Licensing for this program is a one-time fee of $99, which includes three years of free technical support. 

We installed this program to our laptop computer and two desktop computers that were on our home network. The installation was very easy, but I must admit when I first looked at the administration screen I was a bit overwhelmed at the options. Then I read the manual, so that would be my first piece of advice! The user's manual is thorough but short, concise, and easy to understand. We do not do the bulk of our schoolwork on the computer, but there were times when I thought it might be nice if there was some way I could conduct a computer class where more than one child could participate at a time. LanSchool Home allowed me to sit at the laptop and conduct our informal computer class while the children sat at the desktops and viewed different computer applications that I opened up for them, showing them what various options were and how to use them. It also allowed me to show them how to browse the internet in a safe way (by only going to search engines or websites that I had already visited and could lead them through). Another fun thing was the ability to send custom messages. If I pulled up their screens and found that they were playing games instead of working on their assignments, I could blank their screen and send them a message that would appear on the screen. A few times my children got to see "are you finished with your work," or "I see you've finished your game so back to work now, please," or even "time for lunch." 

I feel this program could be of great benefit to families that use computers during a large part of the school day, for families who have a work-at-home parent, or even for families such as ours who could use it as we did. I really liked being able to have 100% control over the student computers from my own remote computer. They had to freedom to navigate within the parameters I had set up yet still get help from me without having to leave their seat for me to take over. Since installing LanSchool Home, I feel safer about allowing the children to use the computers. Nothing replaces direct parental supervision of course, but there are times when other things at home cannot wait, and one or more children need to finish computer work. This program allowed me to take the laptop wherever I needed to be in the home and keep a virtual eye on everything they were doing. 

I really enjoyed reviewing LanSchool Home, and I believe this program is well worth the price. The program ran just as well on our very old desktops as it did on our newer laptop, all three of which run different Windows operating systems. As a home educating parent, I appreciate that the program allows computer usage and Internet browsing to be a cooperative effort between parents and their children while also helping to keep them safer online. I would highly recommend that LanSchool Home be in every home with children that has more than one computer. 

Product review by Dawn Huffmaster, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2010

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