New Classwize Software Coddles High School Students


Sophia Brownsword

After schools shifted to more digital learning, students now use Chromebooks for the majority of the school day.

The Walpole School District has installed a new software, Classwize, to all school-issued computers. With the hope of keeping students on task, Classwize allows teachers to view, open and close students’ browser tabs from seven am to four pm on weekdays.

This feature had been available through the Linewize system, which the school has used in years past to monitor browsing history. However, the district has decided to enable Classwize this year across all Walpole schools after its success at Bird Middle School last year. 

“I want to see how it goes and if it looks like it’s a good teaching tool and it helps teaching and learning, then I’d like to keep it. If it’s going to be abused in any way, shape, or form, just like anything else, we are going to get rid of it,” Walpole High School Principal Stephen Imbusch said. 

The recent addition of the district’s 1:1 Chromebook policy provides students with nearly unlimited access to the internet. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these Chromebooks became vital for online learning. However, now that schools have returned to in-person learning, classrooms continue to rely on these computers. 

Many teachers use Classwize to keep students on a cohesive tab. For example, if a teacher were to give students an independent assignment on Google Classroom, they could use the new software to open the website for all students. This assists teachers in keeping classes focused on their work. 

However, the most popular, yet controversial, feature of Classwize is the ability it gives teachers to view students’ tabs, as well as close any they deem inappropriate. Giving students internet access has its obvious perks, but it also allows students to stray off task with games, online shopping and social media. The administration hopes that monitoring students’ computers will increase productivity throughout the day. 

“I’m not using it as a tool to punish students, it’s more of a tool to help you succeed. If students are doing the right thing anyway, they shouldn’t really care what you’re looking at. If they’re not, maybe you should figure that out to help them succeed,” social studies teacher Jennifer Swain said. 

Teachers who utilize Classwize do not necessarily use this program with malicious intent; their job is to ensure that students are learning to the best of their ability. However, it is also understandable that students may have trepidations about it. Classwize removes virtually any privacy that they previously had.  The program does not notify students when their tabs are being viewed. Not only does this remove a great amount of privacy, but it leaves them with an uneasy feeling as well, knowing that someone could potentially be monitoring them at any given moment. 

“We are almost 18-year-olds, why do we have to be treated like little kids that can’t be trusted?” senior James Jdey said. 

When students feel as though they are being monitored, they lose any sense of trust they had with their teachers. They feel as though they are being punished for an action they may not have done in the first place. Trust is one of the most crucial qualities a teacher must build with their students, and without it, learning becomes impossible. 

“It’s coming from a place of distrust and when you’re trying to foster a sense of belonging in a community, coming from a place of distrust is the opposite of that,” English teacher Kerry McMenimen said.

The program does make sense for elementary and middle school students, who are still learning time management and independence, but high school students are old enough that they must be able to learn from their own mistakes. If a student becomes distracted by their device, they will suffer academically, but will hopefully learn to manage their time better in the future. High school students are in the process of becoming adults, and should be treated as such. 

While students should not have the ability to spend the entire class period playing games instead of doing classwork, sitting at a desk for 55 minutes during six classes per day can leave students restless. By providing students with opportunities throughout the day to take a brain break and reset, teachers will be able to keep students on task without violating their trust and privacy. Learning effective ways to focus on their own instead of attempting to force them on task will be more beneficial long term 

“Last year when we had longer class periods, most of my teachers would give us a break at some point during class. I wish we still did that this year because it helped break up the day and kept me focused” an anonymous sophomore said.

In the future, students will not have someone constantly keeping them on task. High school is when they need to learn skills for themselves that will help them function independently throughout the rest of their lives. By coddling students at such an age, teachers may stand in the way of the maturation of students. 

“We have to foster a sense of independence, especially among juniors or seniors who are planning on attending college and this doesn’t really do that. It lets us sort of control your focus instead of teaching you how to actually focus,” McMenimen said. 

Teachers may ultimately have good intentions by using Classwize, but for many students, the program feels like a punishment, rather than a learning tool. Learning is not something that comes through pressure, but out of genuine intrigue and curiosity from students. By forcing students to stay on task, the fun is taken out of learning, and school becomes somewhat of a chore. 

It is important for teachers to ensure that students are staying on task and doing their best work — that is a large part of their jobs. However, at the high school level, students are preparing for adulthood and must learn life-long skills such as time management and decision making. High school is the time where students need freedom to learn from their own mistakes, because otherwise, they will continue to make them in their future.