Leadership

10 things to look for in a monitoring tool

Using technology for deep learning
 

It’s March. An unexpected curveball is heading our way from a crisis we didn’t quite realize was upon us.

It’s Tuesday. By Thursday, a fully-functioning digital version of school is expected. Bottling all of the school activities (the learning, the fun, the administration, resource allocation, and even the challenges) means jumping in with both feet to keep a semblance of normalcy; even with the benefit of time, a range of teacher expertise, and a sea of learning platforms against us.

Those days may feel behind you, even as we navigate new tech arenas.

As we all know, remote learning has provided students an expanded digital worldview, but also requires dedicated on-ramps and exits as safety guides—which is a significant value of Chrome monitoring tools.

Selecting a Chrome monitoring tool for remote, discreet, and careful monitoring of online student activities and behaviors requires balance: you want functionality and pedagogy at the heart of the tool. Beyond simply knowing what a student is doing online at any given moment, we need to move learners towards greater independence online.

So, take a deep breath. If the past months have taught us anything, it’s that building the digital plane as you fly it also requires “real-world” competencies like thoughtfulness, speed, and good judgment.

We’ll outline considerations for your new tech task and how to assess your own K-12 web monitoring priorities.

1. Takes a pedagogical approach to monitoring

Many have seen the simple infographic online comparing and contrasting what “we want kids to do with technology”. It separates instructions (e.g. “start blogs”), from what we actually want them to learn, (e.g. “raising awareness” or “taking action”); reminding us technology is a tool, not a learning outcome.

In the same way, by identifying the pedagogy behind a Chrome browser monitoring tool, educators can more effectively define learning for students. Tools like Hāpara differentiate learning; allowing for peer collaboration and delivery of formative assessments. This centers pedagogy, not just oversight, for learners.

2. Expands digital and remote access equity by meeting diverse learner needs

Beyond simple student access to computer equipment or the internet, true digital equity meets the diverse needs of all learners. The groups function in Hāpara allows educators to organize students by learning style, English language proficiency, special education needs, or even adapt remote options for early learners.

From simply opening tabs for early learners unable to read or access links to tracking continued progress on task-specific and on-task behaviors for students with Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals, monitoring tools should allow unobtrusive teacher support for all students to adapt and thrive within the online learning environment.

3. Relies on teacher and administration judgment to set and implement parameters…at first

The range of features and benefits of monitoring tools work best when responding to common teacher concerns. Research (Vaccaro & Sabella, 2018) on behavior and academic monitoring in the classroom shows the importance of systematic, ongoing, and frequent observations to address off-task behavior.

Tools should function to quickly and seamlessly manage the workflow of learning, including:

  • Removing temptations and objections of a list of URLs to disable or focus on; easily done with Hāpara’s Guided Browsing.
  • Showing a full class view of current learner browser activity as well as recent and current tabs. 
  • An option to pause students’ screens temporarily to underscore a point or focus attention on the teacher and a one-click option to close a URL or tab on a student’s device.

Teachers need the ability to monitor, direct, and redirect students to support learning above all—even as the responsibility for learning shifts and evolves.

4. Promotes pathways to digital citizenship for learners

Just as in the physical classroom, online learning and monitoring tools meet the dual purpose of focusing students while helping develop 21st-century skills like digital citizenship.

With the goal of gradually releasing responsibility for students, Chrome monitoring tools track and capture student actions and provide a pathway for teachers to define and teach digital citizenship, incorporating ways for learners to measure their own appropriate behavior and ability to evaluate sources and sites; against expectations and work with teachers on growth areas.

These skills help students make positive, learning-focused decisions online.

5. Centers relationship-building with students 

Even if the word monitoring conjures visions of teachers and administrators “spying” on students, the best tools address privacy concerns by emphasizing a relationship-building, rather than punitive, approach.

Remotely monitoring screens offers near-real-time or real-time evidence of individuals or groups who need assistance or a gentle redirection through a private message. Monitoring also offers insight into student interests that can be nurtured (or maybe you’ll just get a wealth of information about Roblox!).

While Hāpara’s chat is teacher-activated, screen monitoring can strengthen the capacity for 1-on-1 attention to immediate student questions and positive reinforcements.

Ethical chromebook monitoring with Hāpara Highlights

Create a safe digital learning environment with tools that allow teachers to see learners’ open tabs during instructional hours.

6. Customizes learning materials to increase academic achievement

Closely aligned with other benefits is the ability to customize learning materials by adjusting learning strategies and content for individual students.

Customization for individual students exists on a spectrum for Chrome monitoring tools. Pushing out customized, engaging, and relevant links to individuals and groups, or, monitoring student progress on group work when necessary, alternately allows students to move at their own pace and boosts student collaboration—which can increase learners’ motivation and self-esteem.

If privacy concerns are met, a monitoring tool with the ability to share student work—acknowledging individuals successes and modeling for peers—would be a bonus.

7. Delivers a return on investment through varied and efficient methods

As you meet the needs of this “new” classroom, technology decision-makers must also choose browser monitoring software tools that demonstrate a clear return on investment; delivered through more efficiency and the option of monitoring student learning through multiple methods; including formative assessments.

Features supporting teachers’ ability to multitask between content and class supervision, share student devices in near-real-time, and allows teachers to deploy content, materials, and even open the same URL on multiple student devices without handouts or assistance, maximizes administrative and teaching time, while boosting time for learner engagement and active thinking.

The ability to lock down website access during examinations as well as more easily share, organize, and administer assignments and assessments also makes grading easier and more secure—leading to useful data on student learning, and spaces for adjustments in instruction.

8. Offers ease of use for novices and experts 

During the on-ramp onto a new tool, a consistent question is “how easy is this to implement?” Even if it delivers, any negative first impressions will always be not-so-fondly remembered.

Rollout and implementation of monitoring tools should be simple and hassle-free. You’ll want to find a product that is easy to install with student-loading on the frontend. A simplified, clean interface for educators to “see” all learners (or at least their work and browsing!) at a glance, to get and keep them engaged is also important.

9. Provides great customer service 

Under typical circumstances, a tech glitch or unwanted interruption can derail flow and momentum. A new K-12 education software implementation can challenges even the most technologically-adept educators and students!

Look for a Google Chrome monitoring tool with a mix of diagnostic testing, on-demand online resources for professional development, various access and controls to empower school technology leaders and administrators, and a human connection to resolve larger issues.

10. Deepens connections with parents; address privacy concerns and opportunities to partner

As we draw appropriate parameters for students, we should emphasize that in our commitments to students and parents. Ensure that from the backend, your district technology team has the ability to limit monitoring to instructional hours, define district-wide permission settings varying whom, under what circumstances, and for what purpose monitoring is granted; and provide training as well as ongoing access to resources that teach the gradual release of digital responsibility.

Amongst monitoring tools, Hāpara is an industry leader in theory and in practice—living its statement on ethical monitoring practices with features such as a visible reminder alerting learners when monitoring happens. Other measures build parent trust and invite partnership through access to their students’ progress and mechanisms like Snaps for teachers to record, explore and share learner browsing.

Choosing a monitoring tool that creates a safe digital environment extends beyond the watchful eye of the teacher to the values and promises of the tool itself.

Identifying a monitoring tool requires addressing multiple needs in an ever-changing digital environment. You want a comprehensive tool that highlights the positives of the remote learning environment and minimizes its pitfalls. 

Using these 10 factors as a guide, you can determine the right K-12 monitoring software to give a lens into learner browser activity, address the potential for unwanted distractions, and alleviate concerns around privacy, safety, development and equity; all while moving students from passive online users to empowered digital learners.

1 Vaccaro, Deanna T. and Sabella, Laura D. (2018) “Impact on Student Learning: Monitoring Student Progress,” Journal of Practitioner Research: Vol. 3 : Iss. 1 , Article 5.

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About the author
Tomika Rodriguez is a freelance writer who specializes in content writing and marketing. Her writing combines insight from over 10 years as an educator, curriculum designer, nonprofit senior leader, her former life in public relations, and general overconsumption of news and pop culture. She is most proud of her social justice- and equity-focused work, including developing a coding program targeting middle school girls of color recognized by the Obama White House. When not  writing, she is reading, leaning in to a relaxed lifestyle, and working to best the top 6% in Duolingo. Find her at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/freelancewriter-tmrodriguez/

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