Many schools across the United States have issued chromebooks or laptops to the student population to better help guide them toward educational goals. This gives students the opportunity to easily access their work. But, something that comes along with this is a paid program by the name of GoGuardian.
GoGuardian allows administrators to monitor and filter any Google powered device. The primary purpose is to keep students on track. But it also serves other purposes such as: catching warning signs, potential threats, and tracking missing devices. From an administrator’s perspective, I can see why this program does justice. You have the ability to keep everything under control to limit any mistakes.
There is even a mode of the program, Beacon, that specifically looks for struggling students. It searches for students that may be contemplating suicide or self-harm and seeks the help they need. This program keeps students, parents, and schools in a loop to put students first. Which is something I applaud, as paying attention to so many students can be difficult.
On the other hand, through a students perspective, GoGuardian is downright disturbing and overpoweringly invasive even after school hours. While the district can block educationally disturbing websites, they also have the ability to watch screens, open tabs, and lock computers even after the dismissal bell. While some argue that this is for safety, it is also seen as a lack of trust. It is unfair to not allow students to use the device as a personal tool.
But, if they’re for the student to use, then why is it being so strictly controlled? Especially for students where this may be their only access to the internet at home, the purpose of the new device becomes convoluted.
Teachers are on two different wavelengths in terms of liking and disliking the program. While it has its perks, it causes inconvenience when teachers have to monitor and lock screens. Sometimes teachers forget to unlock screens, preventing students from being able to do their work. Causing them to fall behind. Some teachers forgot to remove restrictions during the fall break which prohibited students from accessing other assignments, websites, etc.
I think this is a program, when done correctly and fairly between both students and teachers, can be beneficial. But it only works when both parties participate and are open. A policy should be put in place that teachers should not block or monitor students on Go Guardian after school hours. Students shouldn’t feel like “Big Brother” is always watching.
Recently, at a Woodbridge Township Board of Education meeting, students from Woodbridge High School and John F. Kennedy High School voiced their issues with Go Guardian as an invasion of privacy. Nothing was put in place to address the student’s complaints after the Board meeting. So, it is up to the teacher to establish and respect boundaries with their students until the District establishes some rules.