This review reflects the observations and experiences of independent teacher volunteers, and is provided as a service to Education World readers. The review in no way constitutes an endorsement of the product or its manufacturer by those teachers or by Education World.
NetSupport School is a software application that allows teachers to display their computer screens on students' computers, to monitor students' computer screens, to chat with students in individual or group discussions, to distribute files, and to send and collect course work automatically. NetSupport School, available in English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, and Portuguese, can be used with an entire class, with small groups of students, or with individual students. The program also can be used by administrators or teacher-trainers to conduct professional development workshops and in-service classes.
Recently, Education World asked five reviewers, all teachers or educational technology specialists, to check out NetSupport School in actual school situations. Each reviewer was asked to use NetSupport School in his or her school for a period of at least one month, note specific strengths, weaknesses, and/or quirks of the program, record personal observations or suggestions -- both positive and negative -- and rate the software on a scale of 1-4.
The results are in -- and this is what our reviewers had to say!
Click here to see educators' reviews of other products including Kidspiration, Timeliner, Graph Master, Adobe Photoshop, more!
"I would purchase this program, after testing other similar programs to be sure that this was the best one for my purposes. It provides an easy way to monitor and lock the computers in my lab, but the price seems prohibitive. Our IT director is also interested, as NetSupport School would allow her to fix many problems and run programs around the school from her office without disturbing the classes."
"I have recommended this program to the three other schools I serve. Being able to monitor students while they work is a great feature."
"In working with primary students, the teacher often has to start programs that will be used before the students arrive. With NetSupport, that can be done on all machines with just a few clicks."
"Schools interested in purchasing projectors and Smartboards can get better features for less money with this software."
"I installed the software on a teacher workstation across the hall and was able to "take over" that teacher's computer as well. In the wrong hands, this could be a great tool for practical jokes or worse."
"With enough licenses to cover a building, this software would certainly make tech support easier."
"Our school serves as a teacher-training facility for 46 other schools. Our training lab, however, is relatively small. NetSupport makes instruction in our small facility much easier."
"When I first loaded this program, I was thrilled. I couldn't believe the possibilities! After two days of use, however, we began having major network issues -- computers lost sound, went black, and froze. When we unloaded the program, all problems ceased. I have to believe, therefore, that this program caused the issues. I don't know why."
"Instructions were pretty clear. The only thing I had trouble understanding was whether the software had to be loaded on the server as well as the workstations."
"This software can be loaded from one location to all computers."
"Our network tech installed this software the first time. We were up and running on eight workstations within 15 minutes. After the program crashed eight computers, we removed the software and I reinstalled it. This time, it took approximately 25 minutes, with some minor issues."
"The computers connected very quickly, with no extra work required once the software was installed. It takes about 30 seconds to refresh the list of connected computers, but each computer connects even before it is logged onto our school network, making it possible to lock and log off computers before students have logged in."
"This software's chat command allows teachers to discretely communicate with individual students."
"We lost wallpapers and at first had minor network issues. Several computers would freeze and have to be rebooted. We lost sound on any system after the main computer tried to share with another computer."
"I have had several technical problems with the software. The messages, which can be sent to all computers, show up underneath other windows if the students click anywhere else on the screen. Several computers have frozen or slowed down after installation. After several weeks of use, though, the computers seem back to normal."
"Once I read the manual and learned what all the buttons on my control screen meant, it was relatively easy to lock and unlock the children's screens quickly. I especially liked having the option to watch students, control their computers, share control, or use the Tutor program to remotely log off their computers."
"When I first tested this program, I was elated! However, after a week of use, I was totally frustrated with the minor network errors that suddenly became major problems. Those problems ceased after the program was removed."
"I am primarily looking for a program that locks my students' screens in the lab and allows me to monitor their work. (I currently use SynchronEyes.) Locking students' screens makes classroom management much simpler and guarantees that their computers cannot distract them while directions are being given. NetSupport does this either by just locking the screen as it is or turning the screen off. I'd like to be able to put a personalized message, though, when I blank the screens, rather than simply locking the mouse and keyboard or making the entire screen go blank. Another nice touch is that NetSupport can open programs on all lab computers simultaneously, which saves time and helps streamline lesson preparation."
"NetSupport allows a teacher to quickly scan all students' computers to monitor their work, which is especially helpful when they are working on the Internet or in a computer lab where all the screens cannot be seen at once. The software also lets me log off all the computers simultaneously or send files and messages to all or selected students. I can see that this would be more useful with older students, who could contact the supervisor in a lab setting for help or make use of the chat capabilities during independent work."
"This program provides an excellent way to control and manage the lab. The ability to show students the teacher screen on every single monitor in the lab is wonderful. It allowed us to move the LCD projector we had been using out of the lab and into a classroom. Students can see what I want them to see on their screens without having to strain their necks to look at a projector in the front of the room."
"The price is reasonable when you consider the fact that this software can replace the LCD projector/Smartboard setup now used in most lab settings."
"Our older elementary school students easily learned to use the built-in chat functions to contact the teacher."
"The students loved having the teacher transmit a student screen to everyone in the class as the student demonstrated a task or presented a report."
"The ability to control another computer makes instruction and instructional demonstrations very easy."
"A feature I really liked was the ability to scan each computer automatically. You can monitor what each student is doing, ensuring that they are only where they are supposed to be."
"If the program worked as we thought it would, it would extend student learning tremendously."
"With the current size of our lab, the chat option is not essential, however as our lab grows, I can see that the chat option would be a great advantage in saving teacher time."
"The program is 3.7 mb in size. Though the program is powerful, I think the cost is high."
"Our computer lab is set up to display to a 25-inch TV. However, only the teacher's computer is attached to the TV. I had hoped, with this program, to be able to display any computer to the TV, in order to allow students to share their work with one another. It didn't work out that way, however."
"I enjoyed being able to view each student workstation on my computer without the students being aware of it. And being able to share allowed me to show a student who was struggling with a particular tool how to use that tool."
"I was interested in how much this software slowed our network, so I went to their Web site. Although I didn't find the answer to my specific question, I did find a lot of helpful information there, as well as in the built-in Help section of the program."
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