BY JACK JARVIS
When students returned to Carmel High on Monday, Feb. 24, Carmel Unified School District had begun the process of removing all Chromebook apps and extensions, with the exception of extensions approved by CUSD’s tech department.
Apps and extensions to these school-provided computers serve more than just the purpose of effectively doing homework. Students use apps like Grammarly and EasyBib to effectively do work in and out of the classroom, but many games are used by students to either reduce stress or waste time during the school day. Colin Matheson, CUSD’s technology instructional coach, shares that while popular games could be blocked, it wasn’t the primary goal of the ban on extensions.
“Even with this new change, if you want to waste time on Cookie Clicker, you can,” Matheson says. “In general, there isn’t really a need to block them all.”
Matheson explains that CUSD must now reconsider every single online service students use because of a change in how the district will handle student privacy and student data.
“Often when you install an extension, it’ll have a list of permissions that it asks,” Matheson explain.
Sometimes an extension may ask for access to various components to function: one’s Google Drive, location services, access to a microphone or browsing history.
“Before you know it, a cute kitten wallpaper is now sending all of your personal browsing data to some server,” Matheson explains.
Don’t go scrambling to delete that cute cat off your home screen just yet, though, as the recent ban is simply a precaution the school must take because of updated California legislation. The tech department will have to work alongside teachers to approve popular sites like Quizlet, Quizizz and Kahoot for student use to ensure sure they correctly handle student data.
“Honestly, some of the educational websites are a gray area, and with extensions, we just can’t keep track of them,” Matheson says.
Students are generally unaware of the recent changes, but adamant love for popular extensions will forever remain. Extensions like Doodle Jump seem to be at the top right corner of everyone’s Chromebook screens, while apps like Solitaire seem to get everyone through the night’s homework.
Sophomore Elsa Mayer reflects recognizes the benefits of some extensions.
“The ban is a little unnecessary,” she says. “I know some kids need the games for a break from school.”
Similar to Mayer, seniors Sarah Movahedi and Joaquin Carlson recognize the crucial role extensions have come to play in their daily lives. Movahedi religiously wastes most of her time on the game Slope, while Carlson uses extensions strictly for school work.
“I think it could be problematic if I need a helpful extension for my school work, but I have to go through an appeals system to use it,” Carlson says.
As students reflect on the impact the ban may have on them, they can let their voices be heard by directly suggesting apps and extensions on a survey located on the front page of MySchool.