Product: Gaggle Apps
Web Retail Price: $3.75-6/account
Gaggle Apps is a suite of
online software that gives
students access to powerful
communication and communication
with filters and monitoring
options designed specifically
for the classroom. Most of the
Apps mimic other useful resources that are available
online. Students can create email accounts, make
blog posts, and keep up with school friends on a
social-networking “wall.” Other Apps have more
school-specific functions, such as “digital lockers”
for uploading files, drop boxes for homework assignments,
and a phone-texting service specifically for students
and teachers. These services are integrated into a student’s
account, and teachers, administrators, and even parents can
monitor all activity on these accounts.
EASE OF USE: Gaggle Apps provide users with a highly
intuitive interface that should be easily accessible to nearly
all students and teachers. A list of apps is provided in a toolbar
on the left side of the screen, and individual apps are
opened in “tabs” similar to those commonly used in Web
browsers. This makes simultaneously navigating among a
multitude of Gaggle Apps a simple process. Visually, the
interface is fairly bare-bones, lacking the sleek veneer of
some popular social networks. Still, the interface is easy to
navigate and never distracting or confusing. The company
offers more than four hours of tutorial videos, ranging from
instructions on managing accounts as an administrator to
setting up an email account for a student or a teacher.
CREATIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY: While many of Gaggle’s
individual components (calendars, word processors, email,
etc.) are available elsewhere on the Web, Gaggle Apps’ real
utility lies in its classroom-security and filtering functions.
Gaggle Apps centralizes external sites for email, social networking,
and blogging into a single, easily monitored service.
SUITABILITY FOR USE IN A SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT:
Gaggle Apps are clearly designed with the classroom in
mind. Students are able to share their documents with other
students, submit work to teachers, and easily collaborate
with others on their Gaggle network. These features not
only are easy to integrate into a curriculum or a classroom
routine but will save teachers valuable time and paper.
The GaggleTube App proved a bit underwhelming. The
app claims to filter inappropriate content from YouTube;
however, GaggleTube does not provide nearly enough filtering
to satisfy parents or administrators worried about
students’ access to inappropriate material. While the vast
majority of offensive videos are effectively blocked, there
are lapses in protection. A search for bikini, for example,
effectively blocked all offending videos. Another search, for
drunk, however, allows a student account access to footage
that is hardly school appropriate. Even Gaggle acknowledges
this limitation, asserting that it “is not currently recommended
—Samuel B. LaMonica IV
In all, Gaggle Apps delivers on its promise to provide a
“suite of safe online learning tools” for the classroom.
Students will enjoy being able to access the socialnetworking
and communication programs, while
teachers and administrators can feel secure with the
company’s effective filters and monitoring options.
Top 3 Features
1 Provides students, teachers, parents,
and administrators with a suite of safe,
integrated online educational tools.
2 Gives students valuable experience using
online resources and social networks in a
productive, academic manner.
3 Allows teachers to individually monitor
and control students’ online activities
rather than simply block potentially useful