GoGuardian? GoAway.


Katie Tanner, Contributor

GoGuardian is a program that allows school districts to monitor AND control students’ online activities. For Madison City Schools, any device logged into the MCS Chrome group can be monitored, whether it is a school-issued Chromebook or personal device. Through GoGuardian, teachers can see a student’s screen, close their tabs, prevent them from opening new tabs, and block websites or search terms. 

The district announced its usage of GoGuardian on April 26th, 2022, tucked into a district update and only made public after already beginning implementation of the software. 

Since this announcement, some teachers have used the program in their classrooms. 43.1% of Bob Jones students surveyed answered that they’d had a teacher use the software. 

With surface-level examination, it is easy to see the district’s justification for using GoGuardian. Monitoring student activity is a priority, and the GoGuardian website boasts that their software has helped prevent events like bullying or school shootings. 

Russel Johnson, a technology coordinator for Bob Jones, confirmed the positive uses of GoGuardian, saying, “Teachers can view students’ browsers to provide feedback without drawing attention to the student publicly. Similarly, teachers and students can use the chat feature in a safe environment without engaging in a conversation with a student in front of the class.” He also added that “for elementary students, teachers can “push” websites to help those students get to a website quickly.” 

He makes valid points, as those are all positive uses of GoGuardian in the classroom setting. Additionally, the software can be helpful in an elementary setting where students are not as comfortable with technology or need more guidance to be focused. 

However, many students and teachers have equally valid criticisms and concerns over the usage of GoGuardian. The fact that activity on a personal computer can be monitored this obviously is one such concern. Multiple students described it as an “invasion of privacy.” This is true if Madison City Schools utilizes the tracking feature of GoGuardian, which would allow them to track the location of both school-issued Chomebooks and personal devices. It has not been confirmed whether MCS uses this feature, though Patriot Pages did reach out to the proper authorities.

Senior Brenna Oxley stated that “[She doesn’t] like how controlling it is. It is our responsibility as students to be responsible for what we are doing- teachers should not be allowed to completely take control of our screens.” 

Even a few faculty and staff members agree that GoGuardian is excessive, with one person describing it as “online stalking monitoring software for chromebooks.” Mrs. Panagos who has a computer lab said, “I will probably not use it beyond our experiments with it, but if I had a class that had a hard time staying on task, I’d maybe use it.”

The real question comes down to “Why are we using GoGuardian?” 

The school already monitored our searches, email, and browser history. That’s why, if you Google a flagged term, you should expect a summons from your counselor. Perhaps it is because of the push towards online schooling, with most of our assignments being done through Schoology. Perhaps it is a response to the increasing level of academic dishonesty due to online school. No matter the catalyst, the implementation of GoGuardian feels like an unnecessary invasion of student privacy.