Focus, Manage, Control or Synchroneyes

Yesterday, the Boulder Daily Camera posted an article about the “classroom management” software Synchroneyes that has been installed in almost fifty schools and colleges throughout Colorado. The article focuses primarily on the fact that the software allows teachers to monitor what is on the screens of their students (ie, “no Internet surfing during class”). Taking a look at the company’s web site, I see that they package the message quite differently:

…offers a variety of features that enable you to keep students focused on learning and redirect their attention if they go off track.

In the Daily Camera article students and teachers were interviewed and they share very different opinions on the necessity of the software in the classroom.  One statement from the article jumped off the screen at me most rapidly:

Emilio Bernabei, director of software and content for SynchronEyes, said the application allows teachers to be in charge of learning.

Could this approach be what has prompted a couple of Internet sitings of video and instructions posted by students on how to uninstall the software? One comment I found, posted obviously by a student,  left little room for guessing:

Synchroneyes is one of the most annoying programs the teachers have at their disposal and this is how you… end the process quickly and easily.

The student goes on to give simple instructions for disabling the software.

Whether such monitoring software is helpful or controlling is certainly a matter of opinion and approach.  What I find very interesting is the differing slants on a single product, how various aspects can be a positive or a negative depending on who is asked.

After doing a quick scan, I found a small handful of schools or colleges who use the product which has been around for what looks like at least 3 years. 

Two sides (or twelve) to every story.