What you need to know about Google for Education

Randy Barber

The Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) uses Google’s G Suite for Education, so that students and staff have access to all of the powerful tools Google offers, including Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendars and Google Classroom.

While G Suite may look and feel just like Google, the software has, in fact, been customized for K-12 institutions. This helps BVSD and other school districts ensure student data is protected and that our children are shielded from advertising, while still permitting the benefits of improved communication, collaboration and efficiency.

RELATED STORIES: BVSD educators strive to balance the promise of technology with responsibility of digital citizenship
Share your feedback on technology use


Google For Education
Boulder Valley School District’s usage of G Suite is through Google Education, an arm of the company that focuses solely on support for teachers, learners, researchers, and educational organizations through products, programs and philanthropy.

LEARN MORE: G Suite for K12 Institutions

BVSD is proud of its partnership with Google for Education. The school district’s close proximity to Google’s Boulder campus provides a lot of opportunities for our district’s staff and students.

In fact, it was Google for Education that recently gave BVSD a $125,000 grant to reinvigorate the district’s Computer Science curriculum. Additionally, the organization’s staff regularly works with BVSD teachers to bring innovative approaches and techniques to the classroom, like Google Expeditions Augmented Reality.

That being said, BVSD understands some families may have concerns, especially in light of recent stories about the global company, including this New York Times article.

It is part of the reason that BVSD is reviewing its use of technology in the classroom to ensure that the great promise provided by these tools is balanced with commonsense measures to ensure student safety and the reduction of distraction. Part of that process will be engaging parents on this important topic.

LEARN MORE: Share your feedback on technology use

Data security is a paramount concern
To better understand Google For Education, we will focus on the facts available.

Because of their work directly with educators, Google For Education has shown that it understands the needs and constraints of K-12 institutions. They have provided school districts with advanced control when it comes to the administration of devices and security of data. Additionally, they have signed the Student Privacy Pledge created by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), which was designed to safeguard student privacy regarding the collection, maintenance, and use of student personal information.

LEARN MORE: BVSD Student Data Privacy
Google for Education Privacy and Security

As a result, student data is not shared with outside organizations, including advertisers. BVSD retains ownership and control of its data, as explained in this video on Google’s Privacy and Security website.

“Google does not own school or student data. We do not assume ownership of any customer data in G Suite core services. This is a distinction that is important to us, which is why we include it in all of our contracts, under the intellectual content section,” a Google spokesperson explained in the video. “We do not sell your G Suite data to third parties and we do not share personal information placed in our systems with third parties, except in the few exceptional circumstances described in the G Suite Agreement and our privacy policy – such as when you ask us to share it or when we are required to do so, by law.”

Additionally, did you know that G Suite for K-12 Institutions doesn’t have advertisements and fully complies with COPPA and FERPA rules? The Google Privacy and Security website has answers to a number of frequently asked questions.

G-Drive access on Windows devices
This week, BVSD began employing the application File Stream which makes it easier for users to access their data in Google Drive while utilizing school district-operated Windows devices.

Google Drive is a secure, cloud-based file storage system that students and staff may use to store their Google documents, photos, PDFs and other materials. By mapping Google Drive to Windows devices, users will have easier access to the files they already store in their Google Drive. In fact, through this upgrade, students will now be able to access their Google Drive documents when they are offline.

The move will help to eliminate the usage of external hard drives for storage, including thumb drives, which are being phased out by the district because they are far more vulnerable to computer viruses.


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