LanSchool: Used for more than spying

Teachers use LanSchool to monitor students’ computers and keep them on task. However, the program has yet to be used to its fullest potential.

LanSchool+allows+administrators+to+view+multiple+screens+around+the+school%2C+and+insure+that+students+are+on+task.+

Sisay Shannon-Tamrat

LanSchool allows administrators to view multiple screens around the school, and insure that students are on task.

Many students at BSM think of LanSchool as the eye always watching their screens, and while this is one use of the program, there is more to the surveillance program than observing students during class. “There are two different ways to monitor students, one way is for individual teachers to do it in their classroom. Every teacher has a channel and they can pull students into that channel. Teachers can do that to watch students, but it’s not just that. They can use LanSchool to show students’ screens. That way instead of walking up to the projector, the teacher can just display the students screen,” Director of Technology and Learning Mr. Stephen Pohlen said. 

LanSchool has the ability to be a monitoring system, and a teaching tool, but the school has run into technological issues that deter teachers from using it to it’s full potential. “It’s a collaborative tool. You can have your own screen as a teacher and push it onto the students’ screens, or teachers could type a question and have it shoot up onto every screen and every student could answer. Because we have had some technological difficulties, a lot of teachers haven’t adopted it,” Pohlen said. 

While not every teacher at BSM is using LanSchool, there are some who consider it a valuable tool in their everyday class. Theology teacher Mr. Mathew Brounstein uses LanSchool nearly everyday when his students use their laptops. “I use LanSchool pretty much every day, and I use it basically to limit where students can go on the internet. You enter in the websites that you allow the students to access, and everything else is lost,” Brounstein said. 

“Though it may seem like we are creeping through your computer on the surface, it’s really something that is helping you without you knowing.””

— Chaz Linder

Many students and adults alike view this internet limitation as a violation of privacy, but teachers like Brounstein see it as a way to keep keep students on track and maximise their learning. “It helps students focus, and it helps remind them to be honest about what we are trying to do in the classroom. To me as a teacher, they should be focused on the task at hand,” Brounstein said. 

Not every student is staunchly against LanSchool and its uses. BSM junior, Chaz Linder, works in the help desk as a Teacher’s Assistant, and while he cannot monitor fellow students’ screens, he still understands the practical uses of LanSchool. “I think my peers see LanSchool as something we use to stalk them, but in hindsight, Bill uses LanSchool to keep students safe. Though it may seem like we are creeping through your computer on the surface, it’s really something that is helping you without you knowing,” Linder said. 

The help desk uses LanSchool more than just to stop students from playing games. It is able to protect students in a variety of ways. “If the help desk sees you doing bad things, we could potentially save you from posting bad things on social media, or getting caught with a bunch of games. I think students just get the wrong idea of it,” Linder said.

In a school with as much attention to technology as BSM, it becomes necessary to focus on the problems that arise as dependency on the internet grows. “Most of our issues now are online. Whether it’s bullying, or being on sights you shouldn’t be, they are not physical things that happen. We have to pay attention to these things,” Pohlen said. 

While LanSchool does play a key role at BSM in finding protection from the dangers that the internet poses, Pohlen admits that it is not 100% effective. “We are randomly surveying what happens, and we can’t watch every screen all the time. It is more of a deterrent. We think [LanSchool] does enough to make people think twice,” Pohlen said. 

LanSchool is just one example of ‘privacy invasion,’ and perhaps it’s not the worst one in our daily lives. “We’ve given up our privacy in so many other ways through Google searches, Twitter feeds, or Google Maps, and a lot of people don’t even think about it. I’m not surprised people are opposed to LanSchool, but we do have a responsibility to the parents and the students to insure that this is a secure environment,” Pohlen said.