The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

NEWS: District Implements New AI Program to Monitor Students’ Technology

The new AI program Gaggle will monitor students’ activity on district issued technology
Anders Benson
Trying to cheat, a student tries to access the AI program “ChatGPT” on their iPad. Cisco Umbrella removes students’ abilities to access some websites such as Social Media platforms, Video games, AI programs and more.

Within the next 40 to 60 days the AI program Gaggle will be used to monitor all district issued technology, the program will watch all technology that’s loaned to students whether it’s iPads or computers. The program is an upgrade from the previous system the district implemented according to Lawrence Public Schools board member GR Gordon-Ross. 

“This will be more consistent, and do away with false positives and false negatives and things like things of that nature, and just just be overall more consistent,” Ross said.

 Gaggle will track what a student is typing on the device either into the search bar or through an email. The main purpose of the program  is to better track threats to students whether towards other students or towards themselves. 

“We are going to use Gaggle to monitor for verbiage and incidents of either self harm or threats from one student to another,” Ross said. 

While it may seem like the introduction of the program is out of nowhere, the Lawrence Public Schools district has federal obligations to abide by. The government passed a law in 2000 called CIPA, or the Child Internet Protection Act which mandates the district to protect students on the internet. 

 “In order to be CIPA compliant, we have to protect our students and keep them safe while using technology that we issue them,” Ross said. 

The implementation of Gaggle is coming at a time when the use of AI in school is being highly discussed. Teachers are having to decide for themselves if and how they should use AI in their classrooms. 

“I’m not against the use of AI as a data mining tool, it I mean I’ve used it to help me write curriculum,” teacher Gabriel Dalton said. 

While Dalton isn’t opposed to using AI for personal use, he does question the necessity of Gaggle on top of how the district already monitors students. 

“We already know what sites they’re visiting, we already know where they are, ” Dalton said. “And if it’s anything that has anything to do with either the use of AI or essay questions or long answer questions that they’re turning in, they’re already getting seen by an adult,”.

It may seem like an extra layer of protection but Executive Director of Communications Julie Boyle feels that Gaggle is a more thorough tool for the district to support students. 

“The district is responsible for what occurs in our digital environment, with Gaggle our district is better equipped to proactively identify students who are at risk,” Boyle said. 

The program is the district’s way of keeping an eye on students’ safety while they are online, however the program does not extend to any personal devices. 

“Gaggle cannot and does not monitor devices or any personal accounts for internet usage and web browsing,” Boyle said. “It only monitors district devices, accounts, and education platforms.”

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