Active Home Education Institute ensures integrity of online testing with LanSchool
Homeschooling was on a steady global rise for several years before the pandemic accelerated that growth even further. As digital devices became more ubiquitous in the 2010s, forward-thinking homeschool systems saw an opportunity to expand their services to a more global base of families.
When South Africa-based Active Home Education Institute expanded from a book-based homeschool education provider into a global K-12 digital education provider in 2018, they needed a tool that would enable them to manage quality control — specifically while students took tests. The institute discovered LanSchool, a software that, at the time, had typically been used for in-person classroom management.
LanSchool’s cloud-based version, LanSchool Air, delivered the functionality the school needed, including the ability to remotely view students’ screens, chat with students, and set boundaries around which websites students were able to visit regardless of where the student was located. Now the school can administer 100 online tests per day utilizing one central resource with complete confidence in the integrity of the testing environment, enabling the school to continue focusing on student success and institutional growth.
Active Home Education Institute started near Cape Town, South Africa, in 2001 as a book-based K-12 school helping guide students and their families through a homeschool curriculum. But in 2018, the school’s leadership saw the opportunity to serve a more global student base and began offering fully digital curriculum for students in grades 3 and higher.
With these digital courses in place, the school has grown to serve more than 300 students across 16 countries throughout Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America, helping students work through the English-language SwitchedOn Education curriculum toward earning a U.S. American High School Diploma. Students work at home alongside their parents to complete the self-paced curriculum using their own digital devices.
LanSchool’s cloud-based version, LanSchool Air, delivered the functionality that Active home Education Institute needed, including the ability to remotely view students’ screens, chat with students, and set boundaries around which websites students were able to visit regardless of where the student was located.
Every Active Home Education student receives a Microsoft 365 license and communicates with school faculty using Microsoft Teams. While parents are involved in the process, students learn how to plan and set their own goals, so they’re prepared for college and beyond.
When the institute was first transitioning to online classes, the leadership team recognized they would need the ability to monitor students’ online activities as they took tests. Ensuring the integrity of the program as students work at home is a leading priority for the school. The school needed a process — and a software tool — they could rely on to administer 100 tests per day while ensuring the integrity of the testing environment.
“Managing students who are working online can be a challenge, especially now with AI. Our standards as a school are very high — we don’t go for second best,” Principal Ronél van Graan said. “For testing, we considered using software that incorporated a camera or the students’ cell phones.”
But in the end, the school wanted to find a software solution that would enable test administrators to have more oversight and control as students worked, particularly those students in grades 9-12 who were close to receiving their diplomas.
Van Graan researched edtech tools online and discovered LanSchool, a classroom management software typically used to help teachers observe and communicate with students to guide the learning process as they work on digital devices. Cloud-based LanSchool Air offered the ability for Active Home Education’s test administrators to virtually view students’ screens as they tested, chat with students, and more.
After signing up for a free trial, the school decided to launch LanSchool Air to enable a new testing process for students. Before launching, the Active Home Education team communicated with the parents of students about the software’s capabilities and limitations in order to facilitate adoption. Students in grades 9 and up were required to download the LanSchool Air agent to their device in order to take tests according to the new process the school was implementing.
“We explained how the software would help, and also told parents that having LanSchool would benefit them because they could have some relief during the two or three hours while their students were testing. They didn’t have to sit with the student and observe them – we could do that remotely using LanSchool,” van Graan said.
Within a few weeks, almost all required students had downloaded LanSchool, and the school was ready to administer remote tests using a reliable, quality-controlled process.
Today, the school’s technical lead ensures LanSchool is up to date with the latest student rosters, including students’ current grade levels, which change on a self-paced basis rather than following the traditional school year. Active Home Education’s online testing process utilizes a number of LanSchool Air features:
“We love LanSchool. It changed a few things for us – we can relax a bit more.”Ronél van Graan, Principal, Active Home Education Institute
When a student reaches the end of a section and is ready to take a test, they can book a spot in the virtual testing room. When the student’s scheduled time arrives, Active Home Education’s test administrator admits the student into the LanSchool virtual testing room.
The test administrator is then able to virtually view that student’s screen for as long as they remain in the virtual testing room. They first use this screen monitoring feature to ensure the student is online and ready to work, then she unblocks that student’s test on the school’s testing platform.
While the student takes their test, the school also uses LanSchool’s web limiting feature to limit that student’s access to only the testing platform and any ancillary tools they’re allowed to use, such as an online calculator. These limits are easy for the test administrator to set for the entire virtual testing room. The administrator can choose to only allow specific sites, block specific sites, or restrict all websites.
The test administrator then watches students’ screens as they work and has the ability to take a screenshot or screen recording of anything questionable using LanSchool’s snapshot and screen recording features. When the student is finished with their test, they use LanSchool’s virtual hand raise feature, and the test administrator removes them from the virtual classroom.
“Even if the student is using a VPN, we’re able to see their screen. One time a student opened Microsoft Excel when they shouldn’t. We were able to see that on the screen and address the issue with the parents and student,” van Graan explained.
LanSchool offers strict controls over the timing of testing. If students fail to sign in for their test or if discrepancies are picked up in their sign on practices, they may also be admitted to a virtual class with the school’s disciplinary lead so he can discuss the issue and determine whether further action should be taken with their parents.
Using LanSchool has made test administration smooth and reliable for the Active Home Education team. The software gave them the ability to set up a simple, repeatable testing process that enables the school to maintain its high standards of excellence while serving students around the world.
“We love LanSchool. It changed a few things for us – we can relax a bit more.” – Ronél van Graan, Principal, Active Home Education Institute
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