Warrior Run School District Manages Student Cyber Safety in G Suite for Education

ManagedMethods helps Warrior Run School District Monitor G Suite for inappropriate language, cyberbullying, self-harm signals, and other student safety concerns

Warrior Run School District Google G Suite Cyber Safety

Warrior Run School District is located in Turbotville, Pennsylvania. The district has an enrollment of about 1,500 students and 180 faculty and staff, and they’ve recently moved to complete 1:1 for all K-12 grades.

Greg Alico, Technology Coordinator, a tech specialist, and three building technology aides manage all things related to technology and system administration in the district. Most of the technology used in the district is cloud-based, including G Suite for Education. Cost, plus user needs for easy 24/7 access to the district’s systems, prompted the move to the cloud.

Warrior Run School District uses a multi-layered cybersecurity and safety technology stack, including Securly for student safety and device management, and ClassLink for password security.

“ManagedMethods’ layout and ease of use is exceptional. I didn’t need extensive training because the interface is so easy to navigate and user friendly. Most importantly, I’m now able to be proactive in identifying student behavior issues and alerting the proper school resources when necessary.”
— Greg Alico, Technology Coordinator

Alico and his team works to manage the significant growth in the number of apps that are available to schools. If a teacher wants a new app, they must first complete an application created in Google Forms. A review committee then meets to evaluate the app on a variety of parameters. If the app passes the evaluation based on FERPA, COPPA, and other criteria, Alico determines the best way to provide the app to users.

The Challenge

Alico was concerned about monitoring student behavior in G Suite. Google Admin Console gives him access to some data, but it isn’t user-friendly. Nor is it typically presented in a way that makes the data usable. Admin Console also doesn’t provide information or notifications on student behavior issues happening within G Suite Apps. As a result, he spent many frustrating hours trying to find and compile the information he needed when a student incident occurred.

“I would hear from a principal that a student had a discipline problem and, during the investigation, they’d discover that the student was abusing G Suite. The principal wondered why I wasn’t catching those things,” Alico recalls. “I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t stay ahead of a situation like that. I felt I should be going to them to let them know about a problem before there’s a significant issue.”

He knew that there were students using Google in inappropriate ways, but he didn’t have a way to know about it. For example, there were no alerts for students using Google Docs as chat rooms using inappropriate language and sharing explicit images. He could run an investigation manually in Admin Console, but it wouldn’t catch everything and was time-consuming. Further, when his investigation did pick something up, it was difficult to identify additional facts such as the source of the text, who created the document, who it was shared with, and who contributed to it over the document’s history.

The Solution

Luckily, Alico didn’t get internal resistance to looking for a more comprehensive method for monitoring G Suite. It was obvious that there was a problem and that the district needed something new to address it. Like most public school districts, the main issue was cost. Alico’s budget stays flat and he must make decisions about whether a new application will be worth the expense. He was looking for a solution that he could afford over the long-term, not just for the year.

Early in his search, Alico scheduled a demo with ManagedMethods. He was impressed with the built-in reporting, along with the custom reports that he can automate to send periodically. He also liked that he didn’t need to make any changes in his existing systems or OU setup.

“ManagedMethods’ layout and ease of use is exceptional,” explains Alico. “I didn’t need extensive training because the interface is so easy to navigate and user friendly. Most importantly, I’m now able to be proactive in identifying student behavior issues and alerting the proper school resources when necessary.”

Alico evaluated ManagedMethods’ cyber safety monitoring capabilities along with other popular solutions available on the market. He found several benefits to ManagedMethods that made it stand out among his other options. The highly customizable and automated reporting that ManagedMethods provides was a big win for him.

The level of visibility and detail that ManagedMethods provides also stood out. ManagedMethods doesn’t just send email alerts. It provides additional information such as context, who created the document, who it was shared with, and who contributed to it over the document’s history. The email alert will also link directly to the document, email, or chat that violated the policy for further investigation.

There was some concern among students over the possibility of increased monitoring. Alico handled that issue with an explanation when students signed the district’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that covers the rights, responsibilities, privileges, and penalties associated with using the school’s computers.

“Every year, when the students sign the AUP, I tell them that schools are public entities that are responsible for monitoring computer usage to identify instances of abuse. And, if certain activities are discovered, the school is mandated by law to address them,” Alico explains.

When it comes to data privacy concerns, ManagedMethods provides additional advantages over similar products on the market. The platform does not collect or store any district information, it’s simply finding and reporting on information within the school district’s G Suite domain. ManagedMethods employees also do not monitor or access student or district information, unless it’s in the context of a tracked support ticket.

“If you don’t have ManagedMethods, you’re missing a big portion of the things that are happening in your district’s G Suite for Education environment. It doesn’t matter where I am, I can access ManagedMethods quickly and easily. I can make a decision about whether I need to address an issue immediately, or whether it can wait until a more convenient time. I don’t know of any other company doing what ManagedMethods can do.”
— Greg Alico, Technology Coordinator

The Results

After using ManagedMethods, Alico is happy with his choice. “It was what we were looking for. Some products are slow in adapting to the changing world. I was hoping that over time ManagedMethods would move forward and evolve, which is what I’m seeing,” says Alico.

The fact that ManagedMethods is always looking to improve the product, developing new features without additional charges, and providing training on how to use new features are positive factors for Alico and his team.

Alico started using ManagedMethods with the provided out-of-the-box policies, but they’ve added many custom policies in the last year. These include policies that manage issues such as sharing PII on email. Now, he gets alerts and can educate the person as to why they need to stop. The instances of that happening have effectively stopped altogether.

“ManagedMethods is like the missing part of Google that I need. It’s surprising that the information is there for Google, but I’d never show anyone the Google reports because they wouldn’t understand. ManagedMethods reports help me to explain problems to the non-tech folks I work with.”

He is also now able to identify students using Google Docs as chat rooms, as well as other G Suite behavior, that he couldn’t before. Alico can investigate the reports he receives very quickly, and decide if an alert is something that he needs to do something about. ManagedMethods also helps him identify instances where alerts indicate potential self-harm signals, which he can share with proper student resources quickly.

“If you don’t have ManagedMethods, you’re missing a big portion of the things that are happening in your district’s G Suite for Education environment,” says Alico. “It doesn’t matter where I am. I can access ManagedMethods quickly and easily. I can make a decision about whether I need to address an issue immediately, or whether it can wait until a more convenient time. I don’t know of any other company doing what ManagedMethods can do. It’s well worth the cost.”

K12 Cybersecurity & Safety Demo

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*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from ManagedMethods authored by Katie Fritchen. Read the original post at: https://managedmethods.com/blog/case-study-k12-warrior-run/