Butler Tech uses LanSchool to support better student engagement
Butler Tech Career Dev Schools is one of the largest career technical education districts in Ohio, serving 18,000 adult and high school students. Founded in 1975 as an alternative to the traditional school system, Butler Tech’s mission is to help students discover and develop their passions into thriving careers.
Butler Tech puts experiential, student-led learning at the core of its curriculum, using a model of competency-based education that enables students to move through the subject matter at their own pace. To support equitable digital learning for all students, the school system provides broadband internet access so students can interact with the curriculum whenever works best for their unique schedules.
Butler Tech first adopted LanSchool system-wide to give teachers more oversight into students’ digital learning. The software’s ease of use quickly made it a popular tool among their teachers who wanted to view students’ screens and message them as they worked online.
When the school incorporated more 1:1 devices, the use cases for LanSchool increased, and even more teachers began relying on the software for guiding learning and performing classroom management functions. Senior Technology Specialist Kathy New also saw the incorporation of more Lenovo devices as an opportunity to implement LanSchool Air in addition to their existing LanSchool Classic licenses. LanSchool Air helped Butler Tech further expand their classroom management capabilities to support hybrid and distance learning.
Tailoring LanSchool’s tools for Butler Tech
Since Butler Tech began using LanSchool, their teachers have adapted several of the software’s features to fit their individual classroom’s needs.
“Butler Tech provides a great example of how LanSchool’s features can be leveraged in flexible ways,” Director of Lenovo Education Software, Dan Verwolf, said. “As long-time LanSchool users, they have been successful at evolving their teaching practices in lock step with the introduction of 1:1 devices and other new education technology.”
Demonstrating a lesson
Butler’s middle school teachers appreciate LanSchool’s Broadcast Teacher Screen functionality because it eliminates the challenges and distractions that come with presenting a lesson from a single screen at the front of the class. This feature enables teachers to broadcast their screens to every student device, so all eyes are on the same content.
“When middle school kids in rolling chairs have to turn around to look at the teacher’s screen, it can become a ‘spinfest.’ It’s also challenging for students in the back of the class who can’t see well. With LanSchool, students can look at their own screens, and it’s easier for them to focus,” Kathy New said.
She noted the Broadcast Screen feature is also useful in Butler’s larger high school classrooms, whose size can make visibility a challenge for students. Not all schools have the budget or infrastructure to outfit their classrooms with large, high-resolution touchscreen monitors, she pointed out.
One Butler design and modeling teacher uses the feature as a consistent starting point for every lesson. New explained that this teacher always begins by demonstrating the modeling lesson for students in his Onshape or AutoCAD software while broadcasting his screen to student devices. This gives students the ability to not only see the steps the teacher is taking as he uses the modeling software, but also to get an up-close view of the model’s intricate details.
“His classroom is so well-managed because he uses LanSchool as part of his teaching methods. After he demonstrates, he’ll release their screens and they go to work,” New said.
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.
Butler Tech provides a great example of how LanSchool’s features can be leveraged in flexible ways. As long-time LanSchool users, they have been successful at evolving their teaching practices in lock step with the introduction of 1:1 devices and other new education technology.Dan Verwolf, Director of Lenovo Education Software
She pointed out that this teacher also likes to use LanSchool to broadcast students’ screens to empower them to share their work or instruct each other, in keeping with Butler Tech’s student-led approach.
To New, this teacher’s advanced usage is a testament to LanSchool’s ease of use, because he was not someone she initially thought would become a power user. “He was not the most tech-savvy teacher when he started, so for him to go all in on LanSchool, I was impressed,” she said.
Managing students during independent work
During independent work time, it is important for teachers to maintain student focus with limited interruption. This is why teachers at Butler Tech like the ability to monitor classroom devices to avoid distraction and appreciate the option to send students quick messages without interrupting the whole class.
“Teachers love that ability. Approaching website blocks from a blanket perspective typically doesn’t work. Instead, teachers have an arsenal of lists. They can see what sites students go to, and block those. Our teachers also like that they don’t have to block everyone. For example, if it’s a Friday, they can block only the students who aren’t finished with their work, while giving the others a free day,” New said.
Supporting engagement and understanding for all students
Butler Tech teachers have also discovered LanSchool is useful for reducing distractions and supporting engaged learning for all students.
For shy students, the Broadcast Student Screen feature can make presenting to the class more approachable, as they can present their work from their own seat rather than standing at the front of the room. Those same students often appreciate the Messaging feature that enables them to discreetly ask the teacher a question without fear of judgment from other students.
Messaging can also reduce distractions when the class is engaged and working, as teachers can privately message one student without disturbing the others. Messages that are relevant to more students can be sent to groups or the entire class, giving teachers the ability to communicate with their students without raising the noise level.
Reducing downtime and maximizing efficiency
LanSchool goes beyond student interaction, streamlining day-to-day operations and reducing time and cost. For example, Microsoft frequently updates Windows with patches, bug fixes, and new feature releases. Sometimes, these updates will launch on students’ machines when they boot up their computer at the beginning of the day, taking up valuable learning time. Butler Tech’s teachers have begun using LanSchool to combat this challenge by pro-actively restarting all students’ computers at more opportune times. “Teachers can use LanSchool to restart all student devices on Friday afternoons or Monday mornings to make sure their students’ machines are ready to go for class. They don’t have to walk around and restart the machines or rely on students to install updates in their free time,” New said.
Another surprising management tool through LanSchool has been the ability to block students from printing. Because Butler Tech’s classrooms have color printers with toner provided by their own budget, it is important to prevent accidental printing and provide teachers the ability to better manage the use of their printer. “They don’t have to worry about a student printing a book, for example. It eliminates that type of surprise,” New said.
Learning LanSchool has been easy — even without dedicated tech trainers
One key reason Butler Tech has been successful using LanSchool is because the software has been easy to implement. “It was really easy to find the features based on the layout and intuitiveness of the software,” New noted.
This was important because many of Butler’s teachers were still learning how to incorporate technology into their classes and were unlikely to adopt software that came with a steep learning curve.
In addition, Butler did not have dedicated technology trainers on staff, but LanSchool’s tutorial videos, which demonstrated how to use individual features, provided new users with the direction they needed.
“Not all the techs are comfortable conducting training,” New explained. “I’m covering three different satellite districts, so when I go do an overview of LanSchool, I point them toward the tutorials. They’re so granular that teachers don’t have to spend 30 minutes finding something that takes three clicks to do. They’re very targeted.” New added that even less-savvy teachers quickly became proficient with LanSchool, reducing the burden on herself and her team.
Butler Tech has been successful using LanSchool is because the software has been easy to implement.Kathy New, Senior Technology Specialist , Butler Tech Career Dev Schools
Expanding LanSchool usage on Lenovo devices
When the district experienced a change in leadership in 2022, the Butler Tech IT team immediately requested to replace its existing fleet of 1:1 student devices with Lenovo 500W. Years prior, the school had become a Lenovo Self-Maintainer Warranty site, and the IT staff appreciated the efficiencies that came with repairing and maintaining school devices themselves.
While purchasing the new Lenovo devices, IT leadership learned every Lenovo education device included a complimentary, one-year license for cloud-based LanSchool Air. Butler Tech plans to continue using LanSchool Classic, while also broadening their usage to LanSchool Air. “It’s like a multi-tool. You might mostly use the screwdriver. But sometimes you need the little wrench. LanSchool has covered all those things and they’re available however somebody needs to use it,” she said.
For Butler Tech, the software has added a significant amount of value to their Lenovo device purchase and has become a key component for supporting digital learning.
Bundle deal: Get one year of LanSchool free with every qualifying Lenovo education device
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