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October 5, 2022

A New Feature for CTOs to Love: Custom Groups

Erica Hartman

Every day is different as a CTO, just like every student and every situation is different. But while every day might not look the same, the need for flexibility remains the same. When it comes to student content filtering, you need something that’s customizable — and ultimately, time-saving. 

GoGuardian Admin is purpose-built for K-12 education and has been a reliable solution for student content filtering even before the pandemic. Looking ahead, three new features are making GoGuardian Admin a future-proof solution for K-12 schools and districts.

The first feature released this fall is the highly anticipated Custom Groups (formerly known as Penalty Box).

Have you ever wanted to apply filtering policies to a subset of students from different organizational units (OUs)? What about the ability to unblock certain sites for a group of students across an OU for a specific project or activity? 

Now you can! Custom Groups allow you to apply filtering policies to groups of students regardless of their respective OUs, automatically remove students at a specific date or time, and more.

Here are just a few examples of how Custom Groups can make a big difference:

  1. Social media marketing dual enrollment course: A high school partners with a local college to offer a course where students can earn a certificate in social media marketing. Due to the nature of this course, students need to access social media platforms. However, the district does not want the entire population to have access to social media during the school day.

    Instead of creating and managing a separate OU for this class of students, the administrator can create a custom group and give the teacher of the course co- editor access to share the responsibility of managing the group. Co-editors can view and make changes to students from OUs they have access to, including adding and removing students. Before Custom Groups, teachers would have to contact their GoGuardian admin to remove or add a new student, adding extra steps and potential delays.

  2. Credit recovery: A group of students needs to complete a graduation requirement. During flex time, they report to their counselor for a quiet, supportive place to concentrate on tasks. The counselor wants students to only have access to their online course during this time to help mitigate distraction. The counselor can set up the Custom Group to end after flex time, so restrictions end when the students return to their daily schedule. In the past, the GoGuardian admin would have to manually remove them.

  3. Elementary reward: An elementary school principal wants to reward her students by giving them a once-a-week choice period. One of the choice rewards is time to play Roblox. The principal can easily manage the group, customizing the students and amount of time they have access.

Here are a few more use-cases for Custom Groups:

  1. A student is serving in-school suspension: Use restrictive mode and only allow access to educational sites
  2. A few students are generating a lot of Smart Alerts with Twitter: Use non-restrictive mode to only block Twitter for those few students
  3. A group of students earn a Netflix reward class period: Use non-restrictive mode to allow Netflix for those students 

Custom Groups are also great to use for any of the following (and more!): 

  • Summer School
  • Bilingual /ELL evening programs
  • Evening School 
  • Pre-K centers

As a former CTO and longtime super user of Admin, I can appreciate the level of customization and the ability to delegate management of Custom Groups to other users. The ability to both reward students and provide guardrails is necessary, as is the sharing of responsibility of overseeing and managing Custom Groups. Now that many students have devices and with teachers working hard to address unfinished learning, product features that allow for flexibility, personalization, and customization are more important than ever. 

GoGuardian Admin will auto-update to enable Custom Groups on December 1, but you can upgrade anytime before then with these quick steps:

  • Log into Admin and navigate to the Penalty Box
  • Click “Upgrade Now”
  • Start creating new Custom Groups

*Note: To upgrade you must be an Admin Super User with Full Access permissions.

This new feature will replace the existing Penalty Box feature and is included in your existing Admin subscription. Don’t worry — your existing Penalty Box users and rules will automatically transfer as long as you upgrade before Dec 1st, 2022.

Now that you’ve learned more about Custom Groups, we can’t wait to hear how you plan on using this exciting new feature. 

Get started using Custom Groups!