My student has GAFE? Is it contagious?
Whether you are a teacher or parent you might not have heard of GAFE (long A, silent e). It stands for Google Apps for Education, and it is sweeping the nation. A school/district creates google accounts for their students, which gives them access the basic Google apps such as email, documents, slides, and spreadsheets. While anyone over 14 can create their own free account, these basic programs can help districts narrow the “digital divide” between families and schools, by providing quality resources for FREE! However, just like with free apps there can be a few things to watch out for.
With these Google accounts, students have access to word processing programs and other important software. Even students as young as second grade can learn to type and use the presentations feature to present digital information. Also, these accounts allow schools to manage devices like Chromebooks and tablets which students find very helpful.
While there is great debate about the benefits for students under 3rd grade spending too much time digitally, and not enough time with a pencil, scissors and glue, most people will not argue that as students learn to author lengthy paragraphs, writing skills improve. When students use digital editing tools such as Google docs to plan and revise their writing, skills improve exponentially.
So, if you have been notified that your student has a Google account and you are not sure how you feel, consider talking to an administrator. Ask a few key questions:
- How do I get my student’s log in information?
- Are my students in a Walled Garden? (*For more information on restricted domains*)
- What is your Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)? (AUPs vary by district: some provide a simple sentence asking about internet access and others have a clearly defined policy.)
- Does the Acceptable Use Policy clearly address cyberbullying and the discipline actions?
- Is there a plan in place to emphasis digital citizenship?
- Does the district scan all documents for offensive words and phrases? What are they? What actions are taken when these are discovered?
- What web filters are in place at the school?
Walled Garden: A google word for a sub-organization where the users in this organization can only email within the domain (the other users with in the sub organization or the parent domain). Generally, this is a good thing for young children. This means that Suzie cannot email you or Grandma. Fortunately, it also means that strangers cannot email your children. Even in a walled Garden, you want to keep an eye on your child’s email account. Other students can email your student, if students are collaborating this is a great opportunity for 21st Century learning. It also means that other children can share inappropriate links to websites you may not want your child to see. These sites maybe filtered at school, but maybe not at home or any other public location.
AUP: A document stipulating appropriate uses for using the school network or the internet. The document will often contain clear guidelines regarding inappropriate behaviors and the consequences.
- Set up their account on your mobile device and review it often. Whether they have gmail or just google drive, monitor their account.
- Android : how to set up additional Google accounts
- IPhone: How to set up additional Google accounts.
Take advantage of the Google Account: consider a Chromebook, where you can set up your student as a supervised user, then you will have access to their web activity at home.
Like everything in your student’s life, it is important to be involved. Ask to see what they are doing on the internet. Chances are that they can’t wait to show you. Also consider the Keyboarding Without Tears app if your students are not receiving instruction in keyboarding.
Coming up soon:
Fourth Grade National Parks Pass Activity