St. Clair School District teachers are now using a new technology tool that better monitors the use of students’ Chromebooks.

Melissa Husereau, director of teaching and learning, discussed the tool Relay at last Thursday’s school board meeting.

The tool, created by Lightspeed Systems, lets teachers access student Chromebooks, lock screens when necessary and share information to multiple Chromebooks at the same time.

Relay also sends out weekly reports to parents that show when Chromebooks are being used, websites used by students, a list of blocked websites and more, according to Husereau.

Parents will start receiving emails over the weekend of March 1.

An informational video about the technology tool has ben uploaded to the district’s website.

Superintendent Kyle Kruse told The Missourian that two goals of the tool are to minimize distractions for students to stay on task and to inform parents when students are using Chromebooks and the purpose for using them.

“There’s a perception that in the classroom, students were, fairly often, opening up an extra browser window and would be distracted during class time by looking at other browsers when they should have been paying attention to the instruction,” he said.

Kruse noted an instance when the lock screen feature was enforced.

“A student was distracted and got his screen locked, and then typed something not very nice on (another) screen,” he said. “The teacher was like ‘I can see that too.’ ”

Husereau said there will be a learning curve for students.

“Students are learning what capabilities it has from the teacher perspective,” she said.

Technology Workshops

The district’s latest technology workshop was held Monday, Feb. 11. It focused on what kind of skills that today’s students need in the area of technology, according to Kruse.

“Most discussions were centered around the ability to be a good keyboardist and enhance students’ familiarity with the Microsoft Office products – Word and Excel,” he said.

The district has been conducting technology workshops to see how effective technology tools, such as Chromebooks, are for enhanced learning. The group is comprised of teachers, staff, parents, students and community members.

The outcome of the study will provide recommendations to the school board on how to use technology more effectively for learning and remove some technology elements that may hinder learning.

“It also will include recommendations regarding cellphones and any other policies that the group feels we need to implement to make sure technology is used effectively and appropriately,” Kruse said.

The group will present its recommendations in July. The next technology workshop is set for March 21.