Deep Diving: Teachers can now see your screen?

A deeper look into GoGuardian on personal devices

Navya Batra: Welcome to Deep Diving with the Talon where we take adeeper look and examine a spotlight article. I’m your host Navya Batra and today we’re looking at my article: Go Guardian can now be administered on personal devices. Today I’m here with:

Enoch Kwok: Enoch Kwok, Director of Technology for Oak Park Unified School District.

NB: Hi, Mr. Kwok. So first of all, can you just give me a quick overview of GoGuardian and this new recent feature of GoGuardian being on our personal computers? 

EK: Certainly. GoGuardian is a remote management system that allows school districts to remotely manage district owned devices, particularly Chromebooks. And we’ve been using it to provide teacher control over classroom instances of classes, so that teachers can see what’s going on on their students Chromebook screens, they can direct them to certain locations, they can prevent them from going to certain locations. And during an assessment or a testing application, they are able to lock down the browser and try to enforce some sort of test security. During a quiz or a test or assessment. GoGuardian also will monitor Google searches, web activity, and as a school district, we are obligated by federal law to provide some filtering, but to ensure that students are not able to get to pornography or other harmful and dangerous websites.

NB:  So I know that this is like a whole pilot program going on right now. Since starting this program, what has been the general reaction towards it? 

EK:  So let me explain the pilot program. We’ve had gGoGuardian for many years, as long as we’ve had Chromebooks. And up until now, GoGuardian could only run on Chromebooks. But we were recently shown a new feature in GoGuardian where we could turn on some switches on the back end, where we could allow non-Chromebook devices to be monitored and viewed and controlled. From the … GoGuardian console, we know that some students have higher powered computers at home. And so that’s how we came across this pilot program. Once GoGuardian says, ‘Hey, we now have the ability to do that,’ we wanted to test that out and see how that works. There are limitations. It’s not the entire device that is monitored, it’s only a Chrome browser logged into the school managed account.

NB:  So what’s been the general reaction towards it so far? I know it hasn’t been that long. 

EK:  It’s only been about a week since we’ve got the word out that it’s working. So, I haven’t really heard much feedback. I have more feedback of ‘Hey, it’s not quite working yet. Can we figure out what’s wrong?’ And so we’ve been working that. You know, it took us over a week to get together with GoGuardian to troubleshoot the reasons that we finally got it all working.

NB: So you had just mentioned that, like, GoGuardian has blocked some websites and stuff like that — Netflix stuff like that. And I’ve heard some frustrations about this, especially because most students are logged into their school account pretty often. So, what’s your opinion on that? Like, how do you feel about it?

EK:  Well, the things that we block are obviously, video streaming, retail, video streaming. So it’s like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and those are really not appropriate during school time. That’s a personal activity. And the teachers are not able to use those video streaming services for schoolwork. There are paid services that we do allow such as … Swank video that the high school has a licenses for, for paid content. But it is not appropriate for commercial video streaming during school hours. And so, for when when you are logged in as a school, in a school account, we expect you’re doing school work, so you’re not going to have access to them. We do make YouTube complete pretty much unblocked so that there is access to YouTube because we know a lot of teachers link to YouTube videos as part of the curricular resources. But as far as streaming videos, where you’re watching TV shows and videos, that’s not going to happen on a school account. Now, if you have a Chromebook that you purchase through the lease to own program or Parent purchase program. Those Chromebooks are in locked in in a way that outside of school hours, you can log out of your student account log into a personal Gmail account. And those have no blocks on them. And you can stream all the video you want. But that’s going to happen on your personal account, not on your student account.

NB: Okay, so if a student does have frustrations towards it, they should just log out of their school account and move on.

EK:  Precisely. 

NB: Well, that’s all my questions, do you have anything you would like to add? We’d love to hear it.

EK:  Well, I just want to acknowledge that we are in some unprecedented times because of the COVID pandemic. And I’m actually very proud of our district, because our district has put together an educational model that I think is probably one of the highest qualities. We have some really good learning and teaching activities that are happening over distance learning. And I’m really proud of all the teachers who have stepped up and really upped their game in using more technology. And I think COVID has actually forced us to go to this one to one model at an accelerated pace — faster, and we’ve all had to learn and grow faster than we would have without it. So, if there’s any silver lining out of all the struggle that we’ve experienced, I think we’ve really improved our comfortability of technology and we realize how important it is to keep our communication going, in the midst of difficult circumstances.

NB:  For sure. Well, thank you so much for joining us, Mr. Kwok.

EK:  You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.

NB:  And that’s all for today. Thank you for joining Deep Diving. If you would like to know more about GoGuardian on your personal devices read the news articles on the Oak Park Talon website. This is Deep Diving, signing off.