Many schools and districts are considering Google Apps for Education (GAFE) and, more recently, Google Classroom. In fact, during a recent Tech & Learning webinar, “Managing Google Inside Your School District,” 66% of attendees identified themselves as being in a school that uses Google.
Not long after Reeds Spring School District in Missouri launched a district-wide digital transformation back in the fall of 2011, it decided to combine the powers of Google with Gaggle. Janna Elfrink, Reeds Spring’s director of instructional technology, explained the integration during the webinar. “We used to refer to it as a 1:1 digital learning environment, but now we no longer separate 1:1,” she said. “It’s really just the way we conduct business in school.”
Reeds Spring wanted a way for students and teachers to communicate, collaborate and stay organized, all while giving parents and educators the confidence to allow students to take advantage of technology in a safe environment.
Districts that receive discounts on Internet access or other services through the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program must be in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). CIPA requires that schools filter all of their Internet services and block student access to visual depictions deemed obscene, child pornography or harmful to minors.
“We don’t have to worry about a safe learning environment because it’s built into Gaggle,” said Janna. “Our teachers can focus on instruction, teaching and learning, and they really don’t have to think about what their students may or may not be doing.”
The district also wanted one place for parents to be able to view their children’s assignments. “We had many discussions about what a safe digital learning environment would look like,” recalled Janna. “Our solution also had to focus on the students and ease of use.”
Since the launch of Google Classroom, some teachers are using that tool as well as some others while still realizing the safety and other benefits of Gaggle. To help further its digital learning initiative, Reeds Spring holds student and teacher boot camps.
During the webinar, Janna was joined by Heather Durkac, Gaggle’s director of account management and training. In addition to answering plenty of questions about Gaggle, Heather provided an overview of Gaggle and a brief company history. You can watch the entire Tech & Learning webinar by clicking here (registration required).