Computers and mobile devices rapidly entered into public school classrooms over the last decade. Despite advantages of software for educational opportunities, challenges arise for teachers who struggle to maintain control of digital classrooms and ensure the education of their students. Existing platforms are largely antiquated and designed for labs of the 1990s. When Lenovo decided to tackle this problem as a SaaS solution, they hired me to work closely with product management and engineering to get it right quickly and precisely.
Context mapping the modern classroom application
Teachers can see a live feed of every student screen from one view. No more running around the class on foot. Additionally, a specially designed chat system allows teachers to communicate directly or one on one while students are focused and/or wearing headphones (common these days). Primary functions are along the top, and designed to be touch friendly and quickly accessible.
Different viewing modes are designed to support setups and modes as desired by each teacher. List view mode was the first to be added after launch, giving teachers the ability to see and manage student web activity with ease.
“Ever since we got on LanSchool Air, I was big on telling other teachers about it, how awesome it was. Now remotely it’s important to be able to see if your kid is having an issue — and you can still see it in real time instead of them having to explain it over email or text.”
Middle School Teacher
Union City Jr. High School
The ability to blank out every student screen and bring attention to the teacher is paramount to managing a digital classroom - both on site and remote. Teachers can easily toggle the whole class on and off, or choose specific students.
Later updates provided customization options in response to teachers wanting to use school branding and curriculum-specific imagery.
Teachers can easily define what websites are allowed or disallowed. While every school and district organization controls the major offenders at the firewall, the web limiting feature is more about the curriculum, to isolate resources for study time or assignments.
“Web Limiting is hugely important, because the first thing our students want to do is look up a video their friend was talking about or activate a chat on Google Chat. With LanSchool Air, we block all of that...”
Elementary School Teacher
One thing stood out to me above all others while observing classrooms... teachers are rarely at their desk. Why make them run back to their desk to manage the digital resources in the classroom? I tackled this by convincing our project manager that we needed a mobile companion. Teachers can walk around the class, step out into the hall, or even monitor from a distance. All major functions are offered, including a single-button remote mode for live teaching without needing to look at the phone to press a function.
We launched the MVP and iterated through co-creating with our champion customers throughout the first year. There were kinks, like any new release, but we saw significant adoption growth on the sales side. Analytics show a positive growth trajectory of major features. Traffic to settings and editing remain steady and low, indicating that customers are getting things setup the way they want and not needing to retry much.
“I thought the rollout was really simple. If there were any pain points, I don’t remember them...”
Randolph Eastern School Corporation
The ratio of feature use to accessing customer help resources is a positive 1,000 to 1, suggesting to me that most teachers are not having many problems with the interface.
Customer call volume is still high, and largely due to technology issues and new feature requests. The Covid-19 crisis among schools has fueled a near perpetual demand for new ways to manage students and curriculums in remote scenarios. LanSchool Air has adapted as rapidly as possible to meet these needs and continues to innovate on top of this foundation.