As of last Monday, the Rockwood School District has blocked all Chromebook extensions that are not considered useful for educational purposes by parents, students or administrators.
Deborah Ketring, chief information officer, said this change in security was promoted by parents and others who reported their concerns about the apps and extensions downloaded on chromebooks. Of the 3,400 extensions offered, only 100 pertain to education.
“Our technology help has also received an increasing number of calls this year from students whose Chromebooks were not functional, for example, slow to boot, slow to load a page, unable to log into instructional sites,” Kettering said. “This was due to an enormous number of installed apps and extensions.
Ketring said although many students have complained about the recent blockage of certain extensions, it helps ensure a safer environment for students as there is less of a risk sharing personal data.
“The Chromebook’s primary use is to support student learning,” Ketring said. “Based on the increase in issues, we determined that it was necessary to take this step to ensure the device is usable for instructional purposes.”
Sam Hall, freshman, first found out about the app blockages when she received the district-wide email on Monday morning.
She said she was not actively upset about it, but she did see that some of the apps she used most were now unavailable.
“I understand that the school has to protect students from what’s considered ‘dangerous’ on the internet,” Hall said. “But, at the same time, apps like Spotify are now gone, which doesn’t make sense to me because listening to music doesn’t affect my education.”
Hall wasn’t entirely surprised about the blockage of apps, however, since the district had sent out an email to all students and teachers that morning.
“I got an email this morning that told us about the blocks,” Hall said. “It made me a little upset, because they blocked so much, but it doesn’t affect me much, since the Chromebooks already had so much security.”
Jillian Bunderson, sophomore, was initially very outraged about the app blockages.
“I was so angry, because I found out in ALAR/P when I was trying to get to all my tabs, which I kept in this extension called OneTab,” Bunderson said. “I had like 85 tabs in that, and they were all gone.”
However, last Tuesday, the district gave back some of the academic extensions and apps, including OneTab. Bunderson said she was happy about this, but still a little annoyed at which apps and extensions were still blocked.
Bunderson said that the district sent out an email saying they were allowing students to challenge which apps and extensions were blocked through an email to Rockwood’s Technology Department, due to an influx of complaints.
“They didn’t give back everything, but they gave back some of the academic extensions that I use for ALAR/P,” Bunderson said. “That was pretty helpful.”