Boulder Valley School District

New software keeps students on task 

Randy Barber

Staying focused in a busy classroom is often difficult for students, especially when infinite online opportunities are a click away. Online distractions increase the temptation to stray off task, and was one of the concerns cited by parents in recent technology forums. 

BVSD started piloting the classroom device management tool GoGuardian in December so that teachers could have better control of their classroom digital environments.

“I would frequently walk around the classroom,” said Denise Rueckert, one of the teachers who piloted GoGuardian, “but kids can switch screens so fast it was difficult to actually see what they were doing.” Now with GoGuardian, “I could see all the screens at once so I could regulate how kids were using websites and managing their time.” 

Supporting Student-Teacher Communication
GoGuardian includes a dashboard that gives teachers a brief glance of what all students are doing on their devices. Being able to see student screens also enables teachers to provide more customized support to students. 

“If a teacher gives a writing assignment and then all they see is a blank google document, they can go over to the student and try to discuss where that student is struggling and guide them through it,” said Kelly Sain, BVSD Director of Ed Tech.

But monitoring isn’t the only feature of GoGuardian. It also allows teachers and students to communicate.

“This was also a great way to communicate with the kids to send a private message to redirect or let them know it was their turn for a conference,” said Rueckert. A student can also digitally ‘raise their hand’ and chat with the teacher only without calling attention to needing help.

Guiding the online experience
“GoGuardian allows teachers to pre-build lesson plans which only allow access to a limited selection of websites,” explained teacher Kylie Pyatt, who piloted GoGuardian in the fall. 

“I loved being able to pre-set our technology access and then have everything needed pop up on my student's devices as soon as they logged in. Overall, GoGuardian not only minimizes the opportunities that kids have to misuse their technology, but it also streamlines technology-based instruction.” 

GoGuardian is just one tool BVSD has launched to teach students how to navigate digital devices. BVSD has expanded its digital citizenship lessons and trainings for both students and staff.

All 6th grade students at 1:Web schools will be required to take a digital citizenship course covering devices, etiquette, safety and security, and health and wellness. In addition, all teachers will be required to take a digital citizenship training in August and student trainings will be expanded to include K-12.

This digital citizenship course, along with GoGuardian, allow for the gradual release of responsibility to students. Teachers can help guide younger students by providing certain websites to use. But as they get older, students can be taught how to navigate and evaluate websites, with teachers redirecting as needed.

GoGuardian Classroom Management will be launching at all new 1:Web schools and pilot schools on March 1, with all remaining schools jumping on board in August. 


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