Collaboration and Communication
App # 1 - Group Me
Description. GroupMe is an app used for messaging that allows you to communicate over Wi-Fi, computers, or cellular, in created groups using cell phone numbers and emails (What Is GroupMe and Is It Safe?, 2020). Once you have created a group, you can communicate with basic messaging such as text, photos, and videos, as well as emojis and gifs. The app also allows groups and users to create events in the calendar and invite members and create polls (What Is the GroupMe App and Is It Safe?, 2020). Users can also break into small groups and can send private messages to another member of the group.
Warnings. Since its creation, GroupMe has found its way into the news media through cheating scandals in higher education. The app has been used to discuss information about tests, unauthorized collaboration on assignments, offering payments for school work and even the exchange of identification for the illegal purchase of alcohol. Adolescents and teens use the app frequently because of the way the app displays notifications on their phones. They can use it to hide negative behavior such as cyber bullying, inappropriate content, and potentially expose their location to strangers and predators nearby (What Is the GroupMe App and Is It Safe?, 2020).
Safeguards. Parents should monitor their childrens use of messaging apps and internet time. Apps and programs such as Bark allows parents to help monitor phone usage. In addition to parents talking to their children about using messaging apps to connect to their friends and setting time limits, educators can facilitate discussions with students about dangers including strangers online, sharing personal information, and locations. Educators can use available digital citizenship curriculum resources to address the topics in their lesson plans and help students be good digital citizens. Educators use Group Me as announcement tools, peer-to-peer collaboration tools, community builders, student leader communication tools and reminders to students and families but it is important to consider your districts acceptable use policies as some districts require you to use provided platforms for communication with students (Daggs, 2018).
App # 2-Google Voice
Description. Google Voice is a communication app that allows you to make phone calls and send texts through the app on the phone or on your computers web browser. When you sign up for Google Voice, it generates a phone number that you use to communicate with parents and students that will not reveal your personal information such as phone number. You can have multiple phone numbers and can also have the app forward incoming calls to your personal number at the same time. The app will also translate voicemails into text messages or emails (Educators Techonology, 2015). Google Voice can also be used in education and in the classroom for things like recording interviews, podcasting, and student responses.
Warnings. As with any communication app, it is important to consider your districts acceptable use policies and responsible use agreements as some districts require you to use provided platforms for communication with students. When there is a need to communicate with parents, often times outside of school during remote learning, maintaining teacher privacy when communicating with parents is important as well as maintaining student confidentiality (Guhlin, 2020).
Safeguards. Every effort should be made to keep the information of students confidential when using any form of communication and it is advised to not communicate with parents using on your personal social media accounts (Distance Learning, Data Privacy, and Contractual Issues for Educators, 2020). If your district allows communication with students through Google Voice, it is important that educators set boundaries regarding the nature of communications, establishing parameters and expectations (Walker, 2016). Educators should spend the time not only learning how to use the technology, but talk about its use and set ground rules.
App # 3-TikTok
Description. TikTok is an app that allows students to create video content such as music videos, edit them and share them either publicly or to a limited group of family and friends. TikTok users make videos of themselves lipsynching, acting sketches, and can be used to make short how to videos to the music. Educators can use the app to create content with the goal of increasing student engagement with their content (Ketchell, 2019).
Warnings. TikTok can present a classroom management issue when students are engaging in learned movements during instruction. Because of the apps ability to split screen media, it can be use as a form of bullying by using others videos to make fun of students and rididule them. Students can potentially record teachers without their knowledge or permission for TikTok videos thus teacher privacy becomes an issue. Student data and privacy is a concern as well as future implications for students seeking college admission or careers. There is potentially adult content and self harm content that is also available for adolescents and teens to view (Klein, 2019).
Safeguards. There are many uses for TikTok in Education but there are also ways that you can help to safeguard students. When you teach students to use the app in class you can teach them how to use it outside of class in a safe way such as setting their account to private. TikToks posted for education purposes can be edited to not include faces and student images for privacy violations and data concerns (Klein, 2019). Teaching students about digital citizenship is an important tool when using any app for communication and creating (Roderick, 2020).
App # 4-Padlet
Description. Padlet is a communication app and webtool that allows its users to create virtual bulletin boards with information including, text, videos, links to information, websites, images by pinning them to the app with a drag and drop feature. Users can upload documents, class notes and assignments as well as collaborate with groups to curate information (Rogowski, 2018). Educators can use padlet for things like sub lesson plans, interactive storytelling, field trip documentation, research resource gathering, class/club updates, class document hub, whiteboard answers, and many more (Miller, 2015).
Warnings. As with any technology app or website, student data privacy is a concern and how it could potentially be used by the app creator. Padlet information is communicated real-time so students could share information not school related or appropriate including images and links to inappropriate websites. Student appropriate use and cyber bullying prevention is a concern with any platform.
Safeguards. Padlet has the ability to safeguard information through its privacy settings and visbility settings. Educators should always seek to get parental permission and consent for use. Students should be educated on acceptable use and expectations prior to the use of any app or device to ensure safety and compliance. Padlet has the ability to post anonymously to safeguard names but can also be a risk as well if abused (Common Sense Privacy Evaluation for Padlet, 2019).
App # 5-Instagram
Description. Instagram is a communication app and website that allows its users to post photos, videos, comments, and other information, including sending private messages directly to other users (Common Sense Privacy Evaluation for Instagram, 2019). Educators use Instagram for finding ideas for teaching, connecting with other educators, showing student work, capturing classroom memories, creating unique projects, and even helping students (Lynch, 2018).
Warnings. Instagram is a platform that can share the content that is published publicly as well as allow users to interact with other users through social interactions in comments and direct messaging. This is a concern for student safety and privacy. Use is not intended for use by students under the age of 13 but it does not specify what age the intended target audience is (Common Sense Privacy Evaluation for Instagram, 2019). Parents and educators should use caution when allowing use of any social media app such as instagram including but not limited to talking to students about using messaging apps to connect to their friends and setting time limits, educators can facilitate discussions with students about dangers including strangers online, sharing personal information, and locations.
Safeguards. Educators should create separate private accounts for their classrooms and refrain from using personal social media accounts for privacy and safety concerns. Educators shoud consider their districts acceptable use policies regarding creation of these accounts and follow guidelines to protect student privacy. The classroom account should only be used for things related to the classroom and only accept followers from students and their parents. Parents and educators should inform their students about proper digital citizenship, appropriate use, and responsibility when engaging in any social media app or platform (Lynch, 2018).
Resources for Parents and Educators
Light, Bright, & Polite
Parent and Teacher App Guide