Perth’s most prestigious schools are currently using computer software that is said to track whether students are being bullied, have suicidal thoughts, or share pornographic images.
Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Iona Presentation College, and Scotch College are among just a handful of nearly a dozen WA schools that are now using the tracking technology.
The new software monitors students typing info into internet search engines, Facebook accounts, and general documents for specific phrases or words that could, in the schools’ eyes, indicate the potential for bullying, self harm, or inappropriate activities.
The schools, which have gain reports and alerts that show perceived risk to student safety, and the schools say it has improved generally student’s online behavior overall.
The PLC principal, Beth Blackwood, stated that students were hesitant during the testing for the software, but laxed their concern “once it was explained it only tracked transgressions”.
The principal stated that the technology complemented other safety measures taken by the school and other programs that helped students who may be in general trouble, or showed worrying behavior.
“It’s not a one-off solution to the ethical use of technology,” Blackwood said.”One of the things the reports confirm is that the majority of our students are doing the right thing.”
Vice Principal Debra Powell, of Iona, stated that her school used the software because of the appeal of the 24/7 monitoring that was capable. The software itself was installed on laptops for students which were used both at school and at home.
“We do educate our girls on how to take responsibility for their behavior,” Ms Powell said.Colin McKeown, the director of E-Safe Education, who sells the software, stated that the system is not just about “catching kids” but helping them learn appropriate behavior online, as well as promote safety.
“It doesn’t monitor everything but it picks up the risk factors,” Mr McKeown said. “If we get it right, you eventually have a system which is very lightly filtered but very heavily supported.”
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