Increased Chromebook supervision improves student safety but seems extreme

Lucas Bandstra

GoGuardian is an educational based software that can track students’ usage and productivity on their Chromebooks, something PC has been using since first implementing these devices for its 1:1 technology program three years ago. Through GoGuardian, guidance counselor Brad Engbers and tech coordinator Frank Vanden Bosch both have access to the teenager’s behind the scenes activity. “The program will send notifications to me if students typed anything in about suicide, pornography, self harm, etc.,” said Engbers.

PCHS is now looking to add another layer of protection to the current software that would extend these notifications to parents. “This layer would offer more effective communication with parents, since after school hours, they’re the first line of action if there’s an issue at home,” said principal Dan Van Kooten. For example, if their children are conducting searches prompted by suicidal thoughts, it would be important for parents to be notified immediately.

This second layer of GoGuardian also includes keeping a closer eye on Chromebook usage throughout the school day. The company recognized how students in schools were not as engaged while using technology, so they created a tool to hold them more accountable in class.

The new GoGuardian tool allows teachers to monitor each Chromebook individually during that class period. If the teens were playing games on their Chromebooks or doing anything other than what was required, the teachers could see and discipline accordingly. During the month of October, the staff of Pella Christian had a free trial to this extended version of the GoGuardian software. “We need to remember what our mission is: to engage our kids in a high level of education, and we don’t want barriers coming between us,” said Van Kooten.

Through GoGuardian, the school is trying to keep everyone who attends Pella Christian safe. For this reason, I believe the part of GoGuardian that tracks students’ searches and sends notifications directly to parents is an excellent idea. Better safe than sorry, right? Parents receiving alerts along with Engbers and Vanden Bosch would be a good way to keep teenagers safe.

Also, through the second layer of GoGuardian, I understand the school is trying to hold students accountable while in class, but is this really unnecessary? While in study hall or during extra time in class, is there really wrong with watching YouTube or searching the web? Everyone needs a break here and there throughout the long school day! “Students need to learn time management and responsibility on their own. They can’t have teachers hovering over them at all times of the day,” said one senior student. While the first level of GoGuardian is a great tool and can be utilized well, the second layer may be a bit much.

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