Using GoGuardian to Monitor Chromebooks in School

GoGuardian is an excellent and low-cost solution for monitoring, filtering, and providing anti-theft solutions to schools that are using Google Chromebooks.  If you are using Chromebooks, or if your school is considering them, I highly recommend checking out GoGuardian because they offer incredibly useful services with an easy to understand interface that even those with limited tech experience can get used to.  

It’s a powerful tool, and, for $7 or less per device (depending on the length of your contract and the subscriptions bought), it comes at a very reasonable price.  

Now that you have a basic understanding of what GoGuardian is offering, let’s look a little deeper at their system and interface.  First, I should mention that you can use this service as a teacher, an administrator, or as a technology coordinator.  The team has done a great job customizing the software so that users get the information they need and want, but aren’t bogged down by data or pages that aren’t relevant to their role.  

When you first log in to the GoGuardian system, you’ll see the dashboard.  From here you can see how many users are online, what websites are trending, and get a basic overview of what’s going on within the system.  

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The GoGuardian Dashboard

At the bottom of the dashboard, you can find a break down of all the sites that have been visited, and you can even click on a particular site to see which users have been visiting those sites and how long they have spent on them, which is definitely a useful feature.  

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Click on a site to see which users have visited it and how much time they have spent there.

Next up, we’ll head down the tabs on the side of the dashboard and first is “Flagged Activity.”  Here, you can see which sites students have visited that have raised a flag, and you can determine the language parameters for what causes sites to be flagged as well.  

While you’re on the Flagged Activity page, you can click on a specific instance and see what triggered the flag, what student visited that site, and you can determine if that site should be blocked (blacklisted) or allowed (whitelisted).

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Click on a URL to bring up the reason the site was flagged.

The next tab, after Flagged Activity, is “Whitelist/Blacklist” and it is here that you can customize what triggers a flagged site.  You can blacklist websites by category, by specific words or terms, and you can even rank the severity of flagged sites, so while some sites may be blocked, an administrator won’t be informed unless it’s a “high severity” event (if that’s what you want).  

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Customize what sites are allowed and what sites are blocked.

You can also see what specific students have attempted to access blacklisted sites, which is great for teachers, counselors, and administrators to help open a dialogue with these students and see why they’re trying to access inappropriate or blacklisted material.  

You can also create a teacher bypass, so that if a teacher wants to be able to access a certain site that has been restricted, they can enter their password to override the restriction.  

Block pages can even be customizable, so you can have a fun gif, or a picture of your principal looking angry, or whatever you would like to add so that the students know they have been blocked and that the administration has been informed of their attempt to access a flagged site.

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See which students are accessing flagged sites

Moving on, the next feature is the ability to see what specific YouTube Videos are being watched, what Google searches are being conducted, what Apps & Extensions have been installed on the devices (you can block the ones you don’t want being used), and you can even see what Google Docs are being accessed by the students.

The Google Docs feature is my personal favorite, because a teacher can quickly see which students are working/contributing to documents and which students are not.  

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See the Google searches that students are conducting

 

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Browse the Google Docs that students are using

Next, if there is a specific student user you are curious about, you can pull up all sorts of information on them at any time.  You can see what sites they have been visiting, how long they’ve been spending on each site, what Google Docs they’ve been working on, and pretty much any sort of statistic or piece of data you would like to see.

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See exactly what sites students are visiting and how long they’re spending at each one

Next up, YouTube!  YouTube can be tricky, since there are so many wonderful videos and also so many horrible videos, and what do you do if you don’t want to block the entire site?  Well, GoGuardian has a solution which is currently in Beta, but it makes the filtering of YouTube much easier.  

With their filter, you can select specific YouTube categories to block out, certain words in titles or descriptions to block out, or even certain users to block.  It’s completely customizable and makes filtering YouTube much easier, and you don’t have to block the whole site!

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The new YouTube filter in action

On the setup side of GoGuardian, let’s say you’re a giant district and you want to have different settings based on grade level, or even based on specific classes.  That’s definitely possible and the setup interface is actually very  intuitive.  Basically, you would need to set up different “organizational units” or OUs and within each of those, you can determine what level of restrictions should be applied to the device based on whatever criteria you define.

GoGuardian also offers Anti-Theft protection and it’s pretty slick.  Basically, if a device has been stolen you can activate the Anti-Theft mode and choose what sorts of data you want that device to send back to you.  You can have the geolocation data, screenshots, keylog data, and even webcam pictures sent to you in order to help retrieve the device.  And it’s your choice which of these you want to activate, so you don’t have to receive them all if you don’t want to.

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Screensharing is also an option with GoGuardian so that teachers can see exactly what their students are looking at during class.  This is incredibly powerful tool and helps make classroom management so much easier.

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Finally, if you decide you do want to use GoGuardian in your school, they’ve got an excellent system of support should you run into any questions or difficulties.  To begin with, they’ve got someone waiting online to chat with you pretty much anytime you visit their site (and a real person! Not just a customer service robot).  And they also have a database of FAQs and support documentation for you to browse as well.

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Get any type of support you need!

So, with all that being said, if your school is using Chromebooks, or considering using Chromebooks, I absolutely recommend checking out GoGuardian.  They offer a TON of functionality at an incredibly reasonable price, they make classroom management in a digital environment so much easier, and the ability to see exactly what students are doing online at any given is absolutely invaluable.

​You can check out GoGuardian on our website here. 

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