Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, News & Advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

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Written by Gaggle
on March 13, 2020

As schools and districts across the country shut down in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, also known as the new coronavirus, educators are making the shift to distance learning to ensure that students can still be engaged in their education. Today’s technologies can help make this transition seamless for both students and educators, making K-12 remote learning more accessible than ever. Gaggle is working diligently to assist districts with their student safety efforts as they make this adjustment. 

“We have recently connected with several district partners who have needed to expand their accounts to cover additional grade levels or additional tools. We are responding quickly to ensure all tools and grades are being protected.”
Heather Durkac, Gaggle's Vice President of Operations

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In order to support educational efforts during this time, Google for Education has compiled a variety of distance learning resources to help teachers and students achieve their goals through the virtual environment. Not only do these resources help bring the physical classroom to the digital environment, they can help teachers increase student engagement through interactive lessons, collaborative group work, and meaningful student discussion. In addition, G Suite for Education users can now access Google’s advanced Hangouts capabilities, including larger meetings with more participants, live streaming, and the ability to record meetings for future viewing.

School districts using Microsoft’s educational tools can also access a wide range of resources to help ensure remote learning efforts are both engaging and effective. Resources include advice from educators well versed in remote education, practical guides, tips for getting started, and a remote learning community to connect with fellow educators. Not only does Teams provide access to live events and audio conferencing, it helps ensure access for students in low bandwidth areas by including dial-in information for online classes.

Communication and collaboration tools can prove incredibly useful for distance learning environments. For example, students can use Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams for project collaboration, live class discussions, peer mentoring, virtual office hours, and online study groups. These powerful tools can also help students stay connected to their teachers and friends while learning remotely. By remaining connected to their school life, students can feel more at ease about this major shift in their daily routine.

While educators can often get a sense of how students are doing when they’re in the classroom, losing that face-to-face contact makes it much harder to gauge how students are handling both the shift in their learning environment and the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19. “Moving to a distance learning environment can be a challenging and isolating time for students,” said Durkac. “We are here to continue our 24/7/365 review of content to identify kids who are struggling.”

Hangouts can be turned on as part of our Gaggle Safety Management services, giving educators greater insight as their students learn remotely. Our student safety platform can uncover potentially harmful content within Hangouts Chat, which will be evaluated further by our trained safety professionals. Gaggle will alert school officials of any unsafe situations or struggling students, and even contact local law enforcement if necessary. We expect Microsoft Teams to be aligned with the Gaggle student safety platform in the very near future, so be sure to check back to learn how to expand your digital safety net in the Microsoft environment.

If your school or district is closed or planning to close for cleaning, exposure, or preventative measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Gaggle can offer greater peace of mind when it comes to digital safety. Safety management platforms can help keep an eye on students as they engage with school-issued technology both during and after school hours. As educators strive to protect students from viruses in the physical world, Gaggle can help keep students safe in the digital environment as schools and districts transition to distance learning.

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