As a K-12 leader, you’re looking for ways to get the most out of your ed-tech investment. Classroom management software can make teaching with technology much simpler and more productive, leading to better achievement. The right classroom management solution can transform instruction by keeping students focused and supporting rich, collaborative learning experiences.
But you also need solutions that ﬁt your exact needs, so you can justify the costs and easily measure results. Maybe you’re evaluating classroom management software but aren’t sure which option is best for your circumstances.
Traditionally, school systems have hosted and managed the software themselves on school or district servers. In the last few years, however, cloud-based options have emerged in which the primary components of the system are hosted and maintained by the software provider. Schools install an app on students’ devices, and teachers access the solution through any standard web browser.
Each model has its advantages, and there is no one right answer. Choosing which is right for your schools depends on a number of factors. Here are the top four reasons why you might pick either option.
REASONS FOR CHOOSING THE CLOUD
1. IMPLEMENTATION IS EASIER TO START—AND SCALE.
Schools can implement cloud-based software without having to purchase or conﬁgure new servers, which makes it easier to roll out initially. Scaling up is easier as well; if you want to expand your use of the solution, simply add more licenses.
2. COSTS ARE FIXED AND PREDICTABLE
With a cloud-based model, you’ll pay a yearly subscription fee based on the number of users—but you don’t have to worry about extra expenses for hardware, maintenance, or upgrades. This makes it easier to budget for the solution, and the costs to get started aren’t as high.
3. NEW FEATURES ARE AVAILABLE INSTANTLY.
When you opt for a cloud-based solution, upgrades happen automatically—so teachers always have access to the latest features. This not only saves you the time and expense of upgrading yourself but also allows changes to occur more incrementally. This is less disruptive for teachers than performing a major upgrade once a year that requires them to learn several new features at once.
4. FUNCTIONALITY IS AVAILABLE FROM ANYWHERE.
When the software is hosted in the cloud, its functionality is independent of the user’s location. This makes deployment across multiple school sites easier and more consistent. K-12 leaders don’t have to worry that teachers and students at some schools will have a different experience than those at other sites.
REASONS TO SELF-HOST
1. LESS STRAIN ON SCHOOL NETWORKS.
When you host the software yourself, teachers access it over a local or wide area network instead of through the Internet. A school system’s Internet connection generally has less bandwidth capacity than its local and wide area networks. If your Internet connection is slow or unreliable, then hosting the solution on school or district servers might be a better option.
2. MORE CONTROL OVER DATA.
Most cloud providers take student data privacy and security very seriously. Even so, some K-12 leaders are uneasy about entrusting data to an outside entity. If you feel more comfortable safeguarding student information for yourself, then self-hosting might make more sense.
3. FEWER LONG-TERM COSTS.
Although the initial costs of hosting the software yourself are higher, there are fewer ongoing expenses. While you still have to pay for upgrades, maintenance, and support, there are no yearly licensing fees involved. If you have the money to invest in the solution up front (and the staff expertise to conﬁgure and maintain servers), this might be the way to go.
4. MORE CONTROL OVER UPDATES.
While cloud-based deployment frees you from having to upgrade the software yourself, some K-12 leaders would prefer to do this, because it allows them to test new features and make sure these work seamlessly within their ed-tech environment before rolling them out to all users. Self-hosting lets you deploy updates as you see ﬁt.
FLEXIBILITY IS KEY
There are good reasons to choose a cloud-based solution or host the software yourself, depending on your needs and priorities. In fact, you might go with a mixed deployment by hosting it at some school sites and opting for the cloud at others.
Industry research conﬁrms that either option is viable, and it comes down to what’s best for your environment. Technology research ﬁrm Technavio says the global market for classroom management software was evenly split in 2017, with 51% self-hosted and 49% deployed in the cloud. By 2022, those ﬁgures will change only slightly, to 52% cloud-based and 48% self-hosted.
Lenovo’s industry-leading LanSchool classroom management software is available in either format, giving you the ﬂexibility to choose what works best for your schools. The locally hosted version of LanSchool has been helping educators teach more effectively with technology for more than 30 years, while LanSchool Air gives schools a powerful cloud-based option.