When we discuss the need to monitor student email and Google or Office 365 drive accounts with school districts, we sometimes get a response like, “our kids aren’t sharing inappropriate content with these accounts.” Aside from everyday learning tasks, students are using these accounts to communicate with each other, sometimes dangerously.
Here are four reasons why kids might be using their school-issued G Suite or Office 365 accounts to share non-academic content:
- Accounts can be accessed during school hours and at home
While text messaging and social media are obvious platforms for student conversations, many schools don’t allow access to phones during the day. Also, social media sites are often blocked from the school’s wireless network. G Suite and Office 365, however, are accessible from any device 24/7.
- Students can connect with each other by name (no usernames or phone numbers to exchange)
To text someone, you need to have their phone number. To share content on social media, users need to be connected in some way. In G Suite and Office 365, all users in the school domain are already in your contact list.
- Parents think the school is already monitoring content, so they assume it’s safe
Every school district has their own Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), which governs students' use of the internet and school-issued devices. An AUP typically states that all activity and communications on the district’s network are monitored, however, this rarely includes student-produced content within tools like G Suite and Office 365.
- “Public” vs “Private”
Sometimes, kids have information they want to share with one, or just a select few, individuals. When posting to social media platforms (publicly), information quickly reaches a large number of people. For more private conversations, kids may turn to email or drive accounts to communicate.
When students learn to communicate and collaborate in digital environments, amazing things can happen. In fact, collaboration is viewed as one of the top skills students will need to succeed in tomorrow’s job market. But keep in mind that our kids are still just that - kids.