This is the coolest. I mean, really. When my boys started playing on the computer - supervised on specific websites - I worried they might accidentally click over to a website they shouldn't be on. Like some of those scary teenager games - or worse. And then it happened. They were happily playing an age-appropriate phonics games and suddenly I hear a shriek from my office where the computer is. Then there were creatures fighting and guns blasting. "Mamaaaaaaaa!!!!!" they yelled. Inadvertently they had found themselves somewhere they shouldn't be with only one click of the mouse.
Then there was the time Farm Boy asked to work on his Capitals (a map program where he places the name of the capital city on a map of the US.) He has them all learned now but is trying to beat his best time and this particular instance he got a little behind. Instead of continuing on, he decided then quit and just play chess. Not that playing chess is a bad thing. He was just supposed to be doing schoolwork and well, I don't consider chess part of school.
If Lanschool had been on our network, I could have avoided both of these situations. Marketed as a "Classroom Management Software," I found it to be so much more! Lanschool is designed to alleviate the distractions of technology in a classroom while using that technology to teach. But knowing my kids can only go where I say they can go online or only use certain programs during schooltime is so worth the investment in and of itself.
There is a message feature where the student can ask a question of the teacher (through chat.) The boys and I loved playing with that - it was their first glimpse at true technology, not just playing a game or gathering info for a project on the web. You can also send a private message to one student or the entire class (or homeschool.) I loved the "clear screen" option where you can personalize a message that disables the student computer(s.) It really got my boys' attention!
We had the National Geographic Kids website up and they were watching animal videos as we demo-ed the software. I loved watching what my boys were doing and how long they stayed on a particular video. You can monitor what they are doing on their computer by viewing their desktop or just looking at the history log at a later time. You can even designate things they can't do such during schooltime such as email or IM or social networking! We aren't there yet, thank goodness. But the option was there.
Another neat feature (and one probably used most often by school districts) is being able to show the teacher's desktop to the student and teach them through it.
Now don't just take my word for it - head over and get a guided tour. Then sign up for the 30-day free trial. The cost of the software is only $99 for a home license (up to three computers) and tech support/upgrades for three years! It is invaluable for a homeschool with kids who understand how to navigate the internet. Mine do not - yet. If purchased when the kids start surfing (or using online curriculum,) it could work out to be just a few dollars per year throughout the entire school career. For me, Lanschool is peace of mind. It is a must-have for any family whose children are online either using the internet for school, research or fun.
I received a trial of Lanschool free of charge for the purpose of review, no other compensation was received.