Google Hangouts Banned from School Devices


Andrea Slusser

Denied! The school district banned Google Hangouts, a communication feature once avalible for students and teachers to use on school devices. Students and teachers now rely on the unreliable and ignored email, a downfall from their previous messaging application, Google Hangouts.

Recently, the school district blocked the popular communication feature, Google Hangouts, from all school related electronics and denied both students and teachers the use of the reliable app that they have grown accustomed to using.  


Google Hangouts, a direct electronic communication tool, allows communication between virtual students, in person students and teachers. Students sent and received quick responses from fellow peers due to the convenient notification that the application gave. Now however, youths and teachers/staff resort to using email, which creates problems due to the lack of highly practical and instantaneous messaging that Google Hangouts provides. 


The risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in the face-to-face learning models left Altoona’s schools closed and made students and teachers continue lessons virtually. Though this learning model was safer, many students lost contact with friends. Google Hangouts allowed them to maintain friendships and hold conversations with peers.


Currently, most learners and teachers have returned to in person school, but still a considerable number of students continue to stay at home and participate virtually. Many guardians are not comfortable sending children back to in person school. For these virtual students, Google Hangouts acted as a main source of communication between themselves and peers. Many still remain in this model, and without having this main messaging feature, they can not contact several friends and fellow students quickly and easily. Many middle school students do not have phones or the numbers/contact information of friends and peers. 


The application could hold video calls between students, have group chats and recall past messages or reminders. Students were able to easily chat with a fellow class member when in need of an explanation or notes on an assignment. Students and teachers could also show emotion and better connect with one another with the availability of emojis and GIFs, unlike email. Google Hangouts offered students an easy way to communicate with each other throughout the day.


Teachers and staff also relied on the app to promptly get in touch with students.  Quick responses were sent out to pupils about various matters, and teachers were able to contact them outside of the classroom. They had direct contact with students and coworkers while getting class announcements out and received responses quickly.


Personally, I used Google Hangouts to receive quick responses from friends and teachers. The notification that Google Hangouts provided made messaging much more reliable throughout the school. Now using email to contact peers and teachers, both myself and many others do not get responses for several hours, and even sometimes even days. 


In contrast, many believe that students were misusing Google Hangouts, and that it was therefore becoming a distraction in the classroom. The students were thought to be texting other youths during lessons and wasting time on the app. Now, the students who used the app appropriately at our school must now pay for the actions of those that misused the application. 


Students and teachers in our district should be permitted the use of Google Hangouts in classrooms for its true educational purpose. Emails are not going to directly and efficiently contact other members in the district with the ease that Google Hangouts provides. Students almost never check email because they receive thousands each month. With the vast quantity of emails, students have not attempted to check each and every one, leaving most messages unread. For example, every time a teacher makes a post on Google Classroom students receive an email notification. One day, I had over 50 new emails in my inbox.


The simplicity of Google Hangouts gives students a notification across computer screens making both students and teachers constantly check the Google Hangouts messages to provide a fast response. This helps messages to not pile up to having thousands at a time, like several students currently accumulate and ignore. Without Google Hangouts, messaging in the school district remains a problem when trying to quickly and efficiently contact others in the school.


The students and teachers of the school district should be permitted the use of the communication tool, Google Hangouts, on all school electronic devices. The application provides them with several beneficial functions that make communication between members of the district efficient and helpful when learning in a difficult time and communicating through different environments.