New Chromebooks District-Wide, New Monitoring

Today’s Contributor:  Erin “Coach Y” Ysasi

I am currently the Special Education Department Chair at the Graduation Preparatory Academy at Travis. We are an online school with four teachers and classrooms. Our students have a school-issued Chromebook, and most take advantage of our flex schedule to tend to life’s other duties (job, siblings, their own children, etc.). Our biggest challenge is engaging the students with other humans. It is easy to become complacent with arriving at school, getting on your computer, and plugging in some headphones, and to not make any real contact with a person all day long. This article was inspired by just that challenge. We have begun SEL and Circle practices, which have been great for helping our students reconnect with the world IRL.

GoGuardian is a web-based monitoring system for Chromebooks. Web-based monitoring means that the teacher does not have to download a separate program, open it, and run it on their computer in order to monitor student screens. The program assumes responsibility for student computer use set by the parameters of the individual teacher/class.

It’s been more than a year now that we have been using the GoGuardian software at GPA. It is user-friendly and a neat tool for the classroom, but it sparked a debate in my head: What am I giving up to utilize these tools daily?

When I spend time on GoGuardian monitoring my students, I am doing just that: monitoring. I am not talking with them, interacting, laughing, engaging, or building relationships. I feel disconnected. They feel like cattle at a CAFO—just being fed information to fatten up their brains and send them out into the world. I miss the times I laughed with them, and I missed the moments that were just life.

GPA Blog

To improve my relationships with students, I have taken my GoGuardian use in another direction. When a session is over, GoGuardian sends an email embedded with a report and links to more reports. From now on, I will use GoGuardian to monitor and record my students’ usage, while not actually watching the monitoring on my own device. The program will run the sessions I created automatically, and then I can review the data at an appropriate time.

I feel free to roam the class and be a teacher while GoGuardian records their every move. The screenshot below is the email from today’s AM session. Notice the “View Timelines” and the pie chart of “Browsing Activity”.

GPA Blog 2

I just want to remind teachers and techies alike that software is a tool that we should use to guide our programs, but not replace face-to-face time. It is integral that students hear their name spoken by adults daily, in a positive manner. Fostering a human relationship is a major part of the socializing here at school, and today’s students primarily socialize through media. A fist bump, a smile, eye contact, conversation, and even a candy treat every now and again, go a long way in building the character that we desire in these young people.

Love your technology, use your technology, and love your little people too!


  1. I am just starting to set up GoGuardian, and I thank you for sharing your reflection. I agree that these monitoring systems can take us away from the vital interaction students need. I too will use it as a reporting system and discuss any issues with students. Thanks for sharing!

  2. So grateful for this post! GoGuardian is such a powerful tool, and it can really help teachers who are reluctant to release total control to students, or who (for one reason another) are skeptical about their students’ skills with managing digital distraction. But yes—blended learning does NOT mean online, technology-only learning! Empowering teachers as designers means that teachers make thoughtful decisions about when face-to-face experiences are best for students. Thanks again!

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