On Dec. 2, 2019, the Edmonds School District Technology Director Cynthia Nelson sent out an email to all ESD students and staff announcing the termination of personal accounts on District-issued Chromebooks. The email stated that with new Google features being made available, students have the possibility to switch Google accounts to access these new features in a way that the district cannot monitor, raising suspicions of inappropriate activity.
In response, multiple students have contacted Nelson for answers as to the reasons behind the implementation of the ban.
On Dec. 13, the original date of the termination, Nelson answered these questions in an email while additionally extending the termination deadline to the end of January.
“If we continue to let students login with their personal Google accounts, they can access all Android apps. This will result in lots of non-instructional use that may cause problems in our classrooms,” Nelson said. “At this time, Google management does not allow us to leave personal access on for Gmail and G-Suite apps…while preventing it for Google Play.”
While the delay in implementation may bring relief to students, if the district does not reverse its decision on the issue, the effects will still prove harmful to those who are involved in the school in ways beyond their basic coursework.
While most students will feel unphazed by the implementation, some students, especially those who participate in extracurricular activities, will get the short end of the stick. Students participating in clubs, sports and other extracurricular activities, such as those here in Terrace’s journalism program, often have a personal account for the work that they do specifically related to that organization.
The termination of other email accounts does not respect students’ extracurricular work.
The ESD is thinking for the general population of students, but they have yet to take into consideration the multitude of activities that require free access to such tools that their school accounts may not allow – including many accessibility tools for students with disabilities.
For example, say a student is in a professional organization at school that requires them to use their personal account for work-related activities to keep them separate from their schoolwork. If the ESD does go through with this plan, then the work that this student and their peers are doing will automatically be deemed “inappropriate” and the accounts used to complete it will be disabled.
Thus, the District’s proposed changes to Google account policy should not be implemented due to unforeseen negative consequences that will unduly affect the most academically involved students here at Terrace.
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