Over the last few weeks I’ve been using Smart’s Synchroneyes classroom management software to monitor children as they are working on the individual umpcs on the classroom.
I have to say that I think this could be some software that helps teachers hugely. Basically when children log on they have to connect to the teachers laptop wirelessly. The teacher then has control of what happens on that laptop. No great level of ict skill is required as at it’s simplest level the teacher can see thumbnails of each of the children’s screens and a small icon showing the program that is being used.
This gets around one of the biggest barriers that I have encountered whilst trying to spread good practice – namely teachers ate worried that they can’t see what the children are looking at on the screen. Now they can!
The other rather fantastic piece of practical functionality for the classroom is the lock feature. It does just what it says on the tin, at a click of a button all the laptops display the message “Eyes to the front please.”
This is hilarious when you see the children reactions the first time that you do it! Interestingly this has actually led to some interesting negotiation in my class as they don’t like being locked out and I have found that I’d really has improves the attention from the children when I ask them to stop.
Also you can pull up any examples of good work and send it to all the other screens, again a really practical tool in the classroom.
There are lots of other elements to the program that I haven’t fully explored as yet, such as setting up working groups, letting other children control each others monitors and ‘teach’.
There are some drawbacks. You need to have a pretty full on wireless network and processor for it not to become sticky. Also it doesn’t seem to enJoy the graphic intensive software such as google sketchup. Although that’s not really that suprising!
Overall though I would say it is definately worth looking at as I think it has the power to layer all the good aspects of traditional classroom practice over 21st century technology which is really exciting.