Many people don’t believe in “love at first sight.“ I was one of them up until seven years ago when I met and fell in love with LanSchool. Really. I’m not exaggerating.
I saw the impact LanSchool had in the classroom and the wonderful culture founders Dana Doggett and Ben Cahoon built around the product. The powerful combination of impact and dedication made me fall head-over-heels. Hook, line, and sinker.
Today, seven years and two acquisitions later I still love LanSchool more than ever. It’s the evolution of technology in education and the critical role we’ve played in revolutionizing teaching and enhancing student experiences that keeps me enamored.
The Leapfrog Effect
I learned to type on a typewriter. When computers were first introduced to classrooms, most teachers were in the same boat. Learning was facilitated by paper, pencil, textbook, and the occasional A/V experience. Then along came the “computer lab,” where students learned to load dual floppy drives and create documents in WordPerfect. But because there wasn’t a “computer lab” for educators it wasn’t long before students using new technologies leapfrogged their teachers.
I suspect most parents are familiar with getting leapfrogged by tech-savvy kids. Personally, I’ve lost count of how many times my children have configured my new laptop, set up the router, or upgraded my smartphone. Now, imagine yourself as a teacher - standing in front of 25 students, all expecting you to be the digital expert. LanSchool, in many respects, came to the rescue.
Leveling the Playing Field
LanSchool stepped in to give teachers control over the delivery of curriculum and content. Doing so restored their confidence by facilitating collaboration and communication in ways students were accustomed to.
But the biggest and most important impact has been on students, which I believe was Dana’s focus from the beginning. Naturally, when technology enables more effective instruction, student outcomes are the measure of success but there’s more to it than just improving grades.
LanSchool changes classroom environments in wonderful ways. When teachers can share students’ screens with the whole class, and students can share screens with each other, the dynamic shifts from a one-to-many learning environment to a collaborative, inclusive dialogue.
Yes, it’s great for teachers but ultimately it’s the students who experience the value and excitement that makes LanSchool a needed addition to classrooms. Students like how it allows them to use any device to share with teachers and each other in ways similar to how they naturally share outside of class.
Over the years, a few unforgettable stories highlight the impact of LanSchool. In one case, a sophomore boy used it to broadcast a prom invitation to a senior girl, sort of like proposing on a giant video screen at a ballgame. In another instance, a student loved LanSchool so much they rallied a group, attended a school board meeting, and insisted on adopting it at their school.
Witnessing that level of enthusiasm for education technology and having that sort of impact on people’s lives is a wonderful, memorable experience.
Acquisition and Beyond
LanSchool was fortunate to be acquired by Stoneware whose product Unified Workspace, formerly known as webNetwork, was a perfect fit. With it we could “break down the walls of a computer lab” and provide remote, browser-based access to the LanSchool environment, giving teachers flexibility to take their classroom with them wherever they go. Although getting the two products on the same platform and seamlessly working together wasn’t easy, the ingenuity and effort required resulted in a powerful bond and a shared sense of purpose for our merging teams.
The acquisition was also a good fit from a marketing perspective. LanSchool has relationships with the users of our product: teachers, administrators, IT specialists, and so forth. Stoneware’s relationships were more at the school district’s C-suite level. Together we had complete coverage.
With Lenovo Software, LanSchool’s future is brighter than ever. Not only do we have access to a broad and deep pool of resources, we’re backed by the strength and visibility of the Lenovo brand. And from a strategic perspective, LanSchool and the Stoneware portfolio are integral to Lenovo’s play in the education market. The bundle we’ve been selling for the past year – a free copy of LanSchool with every Lenovo device purchased in a K-12 district – is a great example of how Lenovo Software is differentiating in the educational market
LanSchool has become a must-have in the classroom and we remain cognizant that teachers continue to pay for it out of their own pockets when necessary. That’s why we encourage teachers within the same districts to take advantage of volume pricing. So, even though we’re now a part of the second largest PC company on the planet, our focus hasn’t changed.
After 30 years, LanSchool still makes it easy to fall in love at first sight because of its impressive impact on education over the years. Have questions? I’m always happy to chat about LanSchool, let’s connect on LinkedIn or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.