As more and more school districts evaluate student monitoring solutions to address the youth mental health crisis, clear guidance about what to prioritize in a student monitoring solution is needed.
With different tools to choose from, each using its own monitoring methods and with varying degrees of privacy and security controls, how can you know for sure which tool is right for your school community?
Read on to learn how you can avoid the three most common mistakes when evaluating student monitoring software, so you can make the best decision for your staff and students.
Mistake #1: Choosing a solution that creates additional workload rather than reducing it and providing clarity
Some student monitoring solutions emphasize the number of flagged alerts they generate. They alert you on every activity, regardless of the actual risk it presents.
While that may sound appealing at first, you probably have a lot on your plate already. Do you really want a steady stream of alerts flooding your inbox that pose little to no real risk to your students? Or do you want to be alerted only when an activity indicates a real and imminent risk to a student’s safety or wellness?
For example, let’s say a student is researching the assassination of JFK. If a student monitoring solution is alerting you every time a student searches terms like “gun,” “shoot,” “kill,” and “murder,” you’ll soon have an inbox overflowing with unread messages.
In contrast, monitoring software that doesn’t just scan for key terms but uses advanced technology capable of understanding natural language, context, and sentiment will generate more accurate and relevant alerts. It can detect when a student is using language that indicates a legitimate risk—“least painful way to kill myself”—instead of flagging key terms indiscriminately and without analyzing the syntax and context. You’ll receive fewer alerts, but they’ll be the alerts you really want and need to receive.
There’s a well-known expression that less is more. It’s often used to express the belief that having only the necessary information is preferable to having all of the possible information. This same concept applies when it comes to K-12 student monitoring software, or more specifically the flagged alerts they provide.
It’s worth rethinking the notion that more alerts is better. Not every activity deserves to be flagged indiscriminately and regardless of actual risk. Student services and safety teams are already managing so much. What they really need is a solution that helps them identify and prioritize the students who are at highest risk right now.
Mistake #2: Not questioning how a student monitoring solution impacts student data privacy
As technology becomes ever-present in schools, so do concerns about student data and privacy. The data used by K-12 student monitoring tools enables educators to quickly address student safety and wellness risks, but how that data is managed varies depending on the monitoring solution you choose. You shouldn’t need to choose between student safety and student privacy, so how do you ensure both are prioritized?
First, you must understand how risks are identified. Some student monitoring solutions rely heavily on human content reviewers, while others rely predominantly on technology. With a human-led solution, dozens or hundreds of analysts may have access to sensitive student data. Having a bunch of people review your students’ online activities in search of potential concerns creates unnecessary and potentially costly risk.
Sensitive student data, such as nude photos or private messages containing passwords, could be exposed, inadvertently leaked, or even stolen. And in a time when technology is advanced enough to do this initial analysis for us, having a human review and validate potentially nude images should be a thing of the past.
In contrast, a student monitoring solution that relies on technology as the first review is inherently more trustworthy and reliable. Once the high-risk alerts are identified by the technology, then and only then should human specialists investigate further. On top of this, the AI is sophisticated enough to blur potentially nude images even during human review, keeping our children from ever needing to be exposed. This approach reduces risk and improves overall reliability.
By choosing a student monitoring solution that relies on advanced technology to identify student safety and wellness risks, then a small team of experts to validate the critical risks only, you won’t need to choose between your students’ safety and their privacy – you can have both.
Mistake #3: Choosing a student monitoring solution that focuses on flagging activities instead of supporting students
Traditional flagged alerts notify you of the student activities that may need your attention. This may seem like all you need because it’s “the way it’s always been done.” But activity-focused alerts only tell you what students are doing online. They don’t tell you about the current emotional states of the students themselves. This is the information you really need.
Student wellness monitoring software like Securly Aware doesn’t just send alerts. Aware gathers data from multiple sources to form a complete picture of safety and wellness at an individual student level. You gain additional information about the student—such as other flagged activities, self-reported student wellness data, and safety and wellness observations reported by teachers—all in one convenient dashboard.
Aware analyzes all of the data to calculate an overall wellness level for each student, making it easy to know which students are at critical risk. You have the information you need at your fingertips—without wasting precious time trying to track it down. With this invaluable data at the ready, you’re able to quickly investigate and intervene immediately when warranted. You can also be notified when students’ wellness levels have declined so you can intervene earlier, before a student becomes a critical risk.
Wellness levels are a game changer for student services teams, providing current and automatically updated data about your students. You know how your overall student population is trending, plus you can drill down to understand which students are most at risk right now. It takes the guesswork out of student safety and wellness, providing peace of mind and making it easy to identify those students that need your help, even the harder-to-reach students who might slip through the cracks using conventional methods of student identification.
Make it easier to identify student safety and wellness risks with the right student monitoring solution
A student monitoring solution can be a life-saving tool, so it’s critical that you make the most informed choice for your district or school.
Securly Aware provides a complete picture of your students’ safety and wellness and makes it easy to identify those students who need support now. Learn more about Securly Aware by visiting www.securly.com/aware.
For additional information about what to look for in a student wellness monitoring solution, get the buyer’s guide.
Securly Aware works seamlessly with Securly On-Call and Securly Respond to provide you with expert support and seamless alert management. Click the solutions to find out more about our holistic student monitoring solution.