We are firmly committed to preserving the privacy of our students and protecting them from exposure to unwanted elements on the Internet. These issues were foremost in our planning processes as we moved forward with integrating technology resources into the classroom.
As part of this implementation, our district has adopted the "Google Apps for Education" suite of products. This restricted version of Google Apps has been adopted by thousands of K-12 public school districts throughout the country and the last estimate Google published listed more than 110 million users, with over 95% of them being students. Using this version of Google Apps (which was created just for education), we can control the use of the accounts within our district. We can restrict students from the products which are only meant for those who are 13 or older, such as Google+ (which is not available to any Martinez student.) Google Apps for Education products do not expose students to any advertisements, and are compliant with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and COPPA (Children's Online Protection Act).
A student's Google Apps account allows them to communicate and collaborate with their teachers and fellow students in a variety of ways. One of these ways is through a limited email account using the GMail system. A student GMail account allows the student to send and receive emails to staff members and fellow students, but does not allow them to send email to any email address outside of the district or to receive email from outside of the district. Should the student attempt to email anyone outside of the district, it simply does not get sent. Should someone outside the district attempt to email the student, it is not received. Rules for student email use are found in the Acceptable Use Policy included in the "Annual Notice to Parents" distributed at the start of each school year.
Another collaborative tool included in the Google Apps for Education suite is Google Drive, which allows students to create, share and collaboratively edit a variety of documents. Using Google Drive, students can simultaneously edit a document needed for a class project and chat with each other online while doing so.
A third tool available to students is the Haiku Learning management system, which allows teachers to make a variety of learning material available to students online as well as to deliver quizzes and exams on the computer. All of these online tools are available to students when they are using mobile devices in the classroom and when they have Internet access at home. Whether they are using them at school or home, all the restrictions on email delivery still apply.
Student email is not guaranteed to be private. While teachers do not normally have direct access to a student's email account, in the case of a suspected incident staff may review the contents. While Google Apps does not have a built in method to provide the parents with access to their student accounts, we encourage you to have your student provide you with their password. If this is problematic, the district can always reset the password, prevent the student from being able to change it, and share the password with both parent and student.
As stated in the Annual Rights Notification (distributed to parents at the start of each school year) "given the integration of these technologies with the instructional program and state-mandated annual testing, acceptance of these policies is no longer optional for students. Parents who are concerned about the use of these technologies or the application of these policies should contact district or school administration to discuss whether reasonable adjustments may be required for a student's particular needs."
Google Apps for Education is just one of many tools that the district provides for students to use as part of our Technology Integration initiative. We also create accounts for them in online instructional resources such as Lexia Learning, Accellerated Reader, Zingy Learning and others. A list of all web-based programs maintained by the district is available from the Technology Department website. Policies concerning the use of these resources are detailed in the Annual Rights Notification which is distributed at the start of each school year.
We feel that these tools are beneficial to our students and teachers in creating a more efficient learning program and providing our students with 21st skills.