[UPDATE 7/27/2017]: This article has been updated to include new free software options and to remove software that is no longer available or no longer free.
When I was in middle and high school, teachers were still experimenting with digital classrooms. In computer labs, instructors would have complete access to our display screens at any time. They could freeze our screens, take control of our desktops, and they had full viewing capabilities.
However, these capabilities were limited to the stationary computer labs. Laptop mobile labs were controlled only by a teacher’s ability to individually monitor screens while unsubtly hovering over our shoulders. Any work done from home was free from the jurisdiction of teachers, and online lessons were unheard of.
Since then, technology has changed and entire lessons are able to be conducted and managed from home if necessary.
Classroom management software and classroom collaboration tools are a part of that change, both of which I will cover in this piece. These tools will improve your ability to manage digital classroom interactions, as well as bring students together for projects and other assignments.
Digital classroom management and other tools don’t have to soak up your budget. You can manage your classroom, instruct individual students, and conduct digital lessons for free with the top free collaboration tools and digital classroom management software.
Free Classroom Management Software
Veyon is an open-source digital classroom management software–built off of iTALC–that gives you complete control of your student’s computers, allowing you to display lessons, aid in corrections, view workstation progress, and lock out particular users.
The first impression I had about Veyon was how clean the user interface was for a free and open-source software. Veyon is visually pleasing and straightforward with 3D icons, simple prompts, and easy navigation. Adding to its user-friendly nature, Veyon is also easy to install and run on any major operating system (Windows, Linux, OSX).
Key features for Veyon include an overview mode for classroom supervision, the ability to power on and off workstations, send messages to workstations, broadcast screens, and perform homeschool broadcasting.
Have you used Veyon? Be sure to leave a review!
LanSchool Lite is a digital classroom management software offered by Lenovo that is a free version of their full LanSchool program. This option is light on features, as its name suggests, and is unavailable for Chromebooks unless one purchases the full LanSchool software.
That being said, it has a clean user interface which allows users to monitor up to 3,000 screens. Where LanSchool Lite falls short of other software, such as Veyon, is the limited interaction with the monitored screens. With LanSchool Lite you can view screens in real-time, view their active applications and last visited website, and you are able to arrange the screens in any order you desire.
Unfortunately, functionality and features end there. In order to unlock interactive features, you must purchase the full LanSchool software.
Have you used LanSchool? Be sure to leave a review!
MyVision Free is another digital classroom management software offered by Netop. This software not only allows you to supervise your student’s computer screens, but also gives you the ability to take control of those screens and lock out their usage remotely.
The user interface for MyVision is clean and simple, with easy to use functionality buttons on its top bar as well as an auto-arrangement feature for screens.
MyVision Free is available for both Mac computers and PCs.
Free Classroom Collaboration Tools
These are tools that are useful when running a digital classroom, whether you are broadcasting your screen onto all displays or each student is contributing their own actions in a collaborative app. All apps are free!
Bubbl is a collaborative mind-mapping tool for generating new ideas and concepts in the classroom. This tool is also useful for classroom presentations, especially for class discussions and activities. The free version allows up to three mind maps at a time, all of which are savable and shareable.
Bubbl is an online tool; no installation required.
Have you used Bubbl? Be sure to leave a review!
Wiggio is a collaborative workshop tool that offers group messaging, calendars, group polls, file sharing, and virtual meetings.
This tool is perfect for those who choose LanSchool Lite as their free classroom management software in order to make up for the lack of interactive and collaborative features. This way you can still monitor your students and keep in contact with them even while they are working remotely.
Have you used Wiggio? Be sure to leave a review!
Cacoo is a free diagram and flowchart creator made specifically for real-time collaboration. This app is perfect for visual learning in the classroom and off-site so long as teachers and students have an internet connection. Cacoo also integrates with other free educational programs such as G Suite for Education, allowing for easier sharing and access to information.
Have you used Cacoo? Be sure to leave a review!
Think of Edmodo as social media for teachers, students, and parents. Teachers can assign work, students are able to complete the work, and performance assessments and lesson plans are available to all parties.
Parents can know what their children are working on, and how well they are performing now that all three main aspects of education are on a collaborative platform.
Edmodo is also able to integrate with G Suite for Education, making assignments easier to submit and view.
This tool is growing in popularity with over 48 million users worldwide.
Have you used Edmodo? Be sure to leave a review!
For further exploration into Edmodo, be sure to read this comparison: Moodle vs. Edmodo vs. Blackboard: The Ultimate LMS Comparison
Other classroom tools and guides
It is amazing just how far digital learning has come in the past decade. As education moves increasingly from in-person learning to the digital world we should all prepare for this.
The Capterra school administration blog is full of guides and resources in order to help you with this transition to digital, such as these pieces: