Why instructional decision-makers should care about Chromebook monitoring tools

Why instructional decision-makers should care about Chromebook monitoring tools

Web browser monitoring tools are usually purchased by your district or school’s technology department. But there are actually more instructional decisions than you realize in the selection of a Chromebook monitoring tool. As an instructional leader, here are some questions to consider.

  • How are you preparing educators in your district to use a Chromebook monitoring tool? 
  • Do educators know how to use monitoring tools for its important role in developing student agency? 
  • Do they know how to use it for instructional impact? 

From a pedagogical standpoint, educators shouldn’t be policing students. They shouldn’t try to “catch” students if they look at potentially harmful or inappropriate information online. However, as educators, we are charged with the safety and care of our students. Protecting and educating them in the best way possible is our most important role.

Safety monitoring on Chromebooks

Your school district web filter software should be advanced enough that it protects students in real time regardless of the device students are using. But here’s a warning: if it relies on blocked website lists, it’s not in real time. 

Sitefly estimates that the total number of websites launched per minute is 380. This means that every 24 hours there are more than 540,000 new websites globally. Most school districts feel they have all the safety protection they need with old-world site blocker technology. But the reality is, they don’t. 

AI based real-time image, video and text detection is around the corner for school districts. Real-time AI based filtering is the only way district IT can be confident that any new content is filtered—in real time as students access it. (This is an unabashed hint…stay tuned to Hāpara!).

Teachers also need to be part of the safety solution. Monitoring student screens should be a second check to AI-based real-time monitoring. If you’re using old-world filter solutions, you need an around-the-clock check-in to ensure your students are safe.

Chromebook monitoring as a teaching tool

Student Chromebook monitoring software can provide teachers with the visibility they need to keep students focused and on task during learning. Even better, when designed and used the right way, it also can be a teaching tool for modern learning.

As teachers grow in their understanding of deeper learning experiences, students should have voice and agency in their learning. Teachers need to have the kinds of tools that give students structure to develop the lifelong learning skills. 

The ability to differentiate and personalize the level of agency for each student means that student access online can be gradually increased. This means each student can have a personalized online engagement to practice their growing digital citizenship skills.

Student voice through online monitoring

Student voice can be tricky to incorporate in learning as teachers often make most decisions for students. Teachers instruct how they were taught. But classrooms of the past don’t prepare learners of today. Teachers often share that the classroom cannot compete with an online game. That’s because most successful online games allow players to make personalized choices. 

Having learners say what they want to learn, read, study and act on is a first step in engaging them in a meaningful way. Great teachers find ways to negotiate learning contracts with students. Having a say in how they learn gives students accountability. Here are some questions learners can answer:

  • Why is this class important? 
  • How does this help me in life outside of school? 
  • Why do I need to learn formulas in math?
  • What paths can I choose to build knowledge? 
  • What choices can I make to demonstrate my learning?

Giving students voice in learning that is relevant to them creates higher engagement. 

Chromebook monitoring tools that work in the moment let teachers know if their learners are on track. Tools that help teachers focus, prompt and engage with students online are key. This transitions them from teacher as owner of the learning to student as owner of the learning. Hāpara’s tools engage students so they can emerge as owners of their learning.

Student agency through Chromebook monitoring

Allowing learners to be online together is not something to fear or steer away from. In fact, it’s the opposite. For learners to have agency, their teachers also need agency. The skills we expect learners to develop should also be developed in the teaching staff who serve them. Just as students seek meaning in their tasks, teachers do as well. 

Interacting with peers in a meaningful way is a necessary skill we should develop in educators. As an instructional decision-maker, here are some questions for reflection:

  • Do you have a culture of inquiry and creativity when adopting new tools like Chromebook monitoring? 
  • Do teachers not just learn which buttons to click, but also how to make instructional impact with them? 
  • Is there reflection about how these tools work with best instructional practices? 
  • Is there time to share successes, experiments, and failures (FAIL: First Attempt In Learning)?

Gradual release of responsibility with online monitoring

Student voice also needs structure that supports choice in learning. Students need to learn how to critically analyze their sources and how they should structure their time. These are lifelong skills that don’t always come naturally. 

Are these skills developed by policing and locking down students? Or are these developed through supervised, self-monitoring experiences and a gradual release of responsibility?

Encouraging and moving students forward, intervening when necessary and giving learners freedom is a process that takes numerous cycles. We know this because of the brain science that recognizes how executive functioning skills work while learning.

Digital citizenship through Chromebook monitoring

As one of your roles as an instructional decision-maker, you should regularly work with educators to reinforce responsible use of classroom technology. Help them teach their students how to protect themselves online. 

Educators need to recognize that their most effective practice isn’t about the information learners consume. It’s in the conversations about a student’s decision-making. Shift teachers’ conversations and actions from telling learners and deciding for them to building student agency.

Instructional decision-makers set the tone for the use of Chromebook monitoring tools. Too often these tools are used with little instructional impact. We believe that with the right tools and training, educators can move students through responsible, effective and efficient decision-making. 

Are you preparing educators for this conversation? We can help. We would love to share more with you about the instructional, intentional use of Hāpara Highlights as a Chromebook monitoring tool in your school or district. 

Power awesome learning by starting with the right tools and purposeful plan to roll out teacher and student agency.

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