Distance and hybrid learning | Education insights
How to choose the best Classroom Management Software for 2021-22
July 7, 2021
The need for education continuity meant that schools were rushed into purchasing decisions or relied on temporary free software trials — delaying longer-term decisions until this school year. Now that districts have a moment to plan ahead — and more than $122 billion to spend from the latest U.S. government relief package alone — many IT teams are trying to determine which edtech solutions to put in place.
Classroom management software has been used to facilitate digital learning for over 30 years, but like other edtech solutions, many educators had never tried it until the pandemic forced schools to turn to 1:1 distance learning. It became a lifeline for teachers who needed ways to engage with students and gauge their progress on assignments, through screen monitoring features.
Classroom management software is just as useful in the classroom, where educators can leverage it to guide student learning, enable student-led presentations and collaboration, run polls, and communicate with individual students or the entire class.
But if you’ve never purchased it before, you may have questions about how to choose among the options in the edtech market. Here are a few tips for making a measured decision that will provide good ROI.
Four key purchasing considerations
As with any edtech purchasing decision, there are a few important considerations when choosing classroom management software, including:
- Maximizing resources
Allocating budget in a cost-effective way takes time and consideration. Finding ways to support teachers, improve students’ education, and fit the fiscal realities of today’s education environment is an ongoing challenge. Even with relief funds available, technology needs are high and school budgets are tight.
Cloud-based solutions can lower the cost of entry and minimize reliance on IT to manage the system. They can also be useful for facilitating hybrid or distance learning, since cloud-based software is accessible through teachers’ and students’ Internet browsers.
If hosting the solution is preferred to meet requirements for data security or to meet the preferences of your IT administrators, consider solutions that integrate with Google Classroom to simplify and reduce the burden on stretched IT budgets and resources.
You can also look for bundle deals that provide discounts for buying multiple software packages or purchasing hardware and software from the same vendor. For example, new Lenovo education devices come with a free year of LanSchool classroom management software, so you can prove the ROI of the software before renewing your licenses.
- Aligning technology with key stakeholders
Making decisions about which technologies to implement shouldn’t happen in silos. Teachers, curriculum developers, IT professionals, and administrators often have conflicting needs. and interests that drive their technology preferences. Gaining consensus on these needs and ensuring adoption is an important step when making purchasing decisions.
Here are some ways that this can be achieved:
- Create stakeholder committees: Technology decisions should involve committees of administrators, teachers, and IT professionals who meet regularly to strategically consider software and hardware investments. This committee should also be responsible for drafting and reviewing Requests for Proposals from vendors and may even encompass part of a pilot group.
- Work with curriculum directors: Ensure that curriculum plans incorporate all technology tools, including classroom management software, so teachers have a sense of how to leverage each tool as they educate. It’s even a good idea to specify individual features of your software that can be used to support specific parts of the lesson. Get creative to maximize teachers’ use of the tools you’ve chosen.
- Evaluating ease of implementation and adoption
Classroom management software doesn’t have to be daunting to use or time consuming for IT teams to set up. Focus on solutions that offer a straightforward implementation and streamlined maintenance, whether that tool is cloud-based or locally hosted. The tool should also include a dashboard through which IT can manage the entire system and install updates across a wide spectrum of platforms and operating systems.
Additionally, it is important that teachers and curriculum directors feel comfortable adopting this new technology. Even though 72% of educators we surveyed say they feel comfortable learning new technology, it can still be overwhelming to implement an abundance of new edtech solutions. Gallup and NewSchools Venture Fund found that a lack of training and professional development is the most cited reason that teachers give for not using digital learning tools, which can lead to problems with teacher retention. To combat this, focus on vendors who provide in-person training as well as online resources and support that will set teachers and students up for success.
- Choosing a solution that supports student engagement
Research by NWEA shows there are strong correlations between student achievement and student engagement. When considering classroom management software, choose a solution with features that enable teachers to guide learning as well as gauge and encourage student participation.
Popular classroom management features that guide learning include limit web, push website, and the ability to blank student screens; while features like share screen and messaging encourage collaboration and allow the teacher to provide real-time feedback.
However, in order to keep students engaged, teachers need a way to identify which students are and are not engaging. Screen monitoring features are essential for giving teachers visibility into what each is student is working on, so they can redirect students when needed or supplement their instruction with more details.
Making the final decision
Still unsure what questions to ask when exploring classroom management software vendors? LanSchool’s Request for Proposal Toolkit is a great place to start. It includes a list of questions to ask and requirements to consider, as well as the ability to download an RFP template.
Spending relief funds and other hard-won budget dollars requires careful consideration and buy-in from multiple sources. Going into it with an easy-to-follow decision process and clear goals will make it easier to recognize the right solution.
To learn more about how LanSchool can help students and teachers, visit lanschool.com or see its features in action on our YouTube channel. You can also sign up for a free, 30-day trial of LanSchool Air.
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