Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, news, and advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

Written by Gaggle
on February 23, 2021

Google is spot on when it touts that technology can give educators new and more engaging ways to help students learn the skills they need to succeed. The company’s suite of communication and collaboration tools plays a major role in educational technology initiatives for school districts across the country—especially during times of distance learning

Students can use Google Hangouts for project collaboration, live class discussions, peer mentoring, virtual office hours, and online study groups. This engaging tool helps students stay connected to teachers and friends while learning remotely, but it can also open up the possibility for students to engage in risky behaviors. Safety monitoring can help ensure students are utilizing the technology in an appropriate manner.

Since 2017, we’ve offered Hangouts Chat integration as part of our Gaggle Safety Management services, helping school districts safeguard students in this popular Google environment. When schools across the country transitioned to distance learning last year, turning on Gaggle’s student safety platform for Google Hangouts was one of the most common requests we received as more and more districts turned to this powerful tool to keep students engaged in their education from home. 

With the uptick in usage of Google Hangouts for educational purposes since the outbreak of the pandemic, we’ve seen a higher percentage of serious imminent threats and alerts coming from chats as opposed to any other form of digital communication. It’s no surprise that with students learning away from the traditional classroom, they have turned to chat tools more often—sparking this dramatic increase in student safety alerts. 

Our student safety platform can uncover potentially harmful content within the Hangouts environment, which is evaluated further by our trained safety professionals. Gaggle flags content when students show signs of self-harm, depression, thoughts of suicide, substance abuse, cyberbullying, unhealthy relationships, and credible threats of violence against others. We will alert school officials of any unsafe situations or struggling students, and even contact local law enforcement if necessary. 

You may be aware that Google is planning to move away from classic Hangouts in the near future. While Google has continued to push out its timeline for transitioning from classic Hangouts to Google Chat, we are monitoring this closely to ensure we are ready to update our ability to safeguard your students in Google Chat. We look forward to continuing to protect students in this new Google environment.

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