After deciding to implement Chromebooks as part of a district-wide 1:1 initiative, Seth Hemken, Redding School District’s Director of Technology, knew that his job had just begun. He would master Google’s management console, which allows the district to blacklist, whitelist, or pre-install apps, extensions and URLs, and implement GoGuardian’s web filtering, but something still wasn’t quite right.
Seth wanted to assure that students were completely safe when using Chromebooks for collaboration and learning. “It wasn’t until we started seeing the kids use the devices that we learned how there was a significant gap in the security and the protection of the devices from the standpoint of kids talking to kids,” he said. “That really opened our eyes.”
With new opportunities for teachers to engage students, build digital literacy and individualize instruction while creating a learning environment that facilitates critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration comes the ability for students to share files and email each other back and forth.
After learning about Gaggle at a regional technology conference, Seth went back to work convinced that Gaggle Safety Management for G Suite was the missing piece. “I knew that this was something we needed to invest in right away,” he said. “It couldn’t wait six months or to just ‘do it next year.’”
With everyone on board, the school district added Gaggle Safety Management to students’ Google Drive accounts, including 24/7 real-time monitoring by Safety Representatives who detect potential issues and alert school officials if a threat is imminent. Then, after a contract ended with its previous email provider, students were given Gmail accounts with Gaggle Safety Management.
Everyone—from teachers implementing Google Classroom, to school counselors, building principals and district administrators—has seen a positive impact. “We’re able to reach out to students in need ahead of time,” said Seth. “Some of our leadership has spoken out quite vocally that they love getting alerts about what’s going on within their student body because otherwise the kids would have kept to themselves.”
In addition to being proactive in keeping their students safe, because Gaggle Safety Management for Google Apps can include one-year of Gmail and document archiving with options for additional years, it’s easy to find content that can help address issues or incidents involving students even if the student deletes the content.
“Gaggle has proven to be a safety net for us,” said Seth. “I also go into classrooms when we give students their Chromebooks and talk to them about digital citizenship and that what they do and say online actually never goes away.”
Students and parents have also responded positively. In fact, some students have replied to email warnings for using inappropriate language with an apology while others will let their teachers know ahead of time when they’re working on an assignment that might include content that could end up being reviewed by Gaggle Safety Representatives.
For parents, at the start of every school year, Redding administrators describe all the safety measures in place to protect their children when using technology, especially when parents don’t understand why their child needs a Chromebook if they already have a tablet or computer.
“They might already have access to technology, but the device that we provide has a lot of safety behind it, more than they likely know about or can do themselves,” said Seth. “We’re giving their children technology, and it’s our responsibility to assure their safety.”