GAFE logo

    Definitions: Methacton School District (MSD); Google Apps for Education (GAFE)

    (Click here for a quick overview of GAFE at Methacton and additional Google safety resources)

    What is Google Apps for Education?

    GAFE is a collection of free online applications -- all of which synchronize together and integrate into course materials. These applications do not reside on the computer itself, but are rather exist in the “cloud” and are accessed through a web browser. The benefit of this structure allows flexibility in accessing these resources from any computer or mobile device with Internet access.

    GAFE is a special setup of the popular Google Apps, tailored specifically for educational institutions. Student accounts are managed by MSD (and not by Google). Our desire is to have all students in grades 2-12 with access to GAFE.

    Why use Google Apps for Education at Methacton?

    GAFE provide us with a framework for embedding the overall Mission, Vision and Shared Values of the Methacton School District. In alignment with the instructional technology goals of the District Strategic Plan, MSD encourages the use of 21st Century Learning skills and promotes a change in the culture of education, communication and collaboration.

    Are there advertisements on Google Apps for Education?

    No, all advertisements are turned off for schools. Also, Google does not distribute information from education users for use in advertising through its agreement with MSD.

    What student information does Google have?

    MSD will provide each student with his/her own username and password, which will allow students to access GAFE. Google, through their agreement with MSD, have contracted to provide online data storage and use of GAFE and to keep all data confidential.

    What governmental laws are the Methacton School District and Google required to follow?

    Student use of GAFE is governed by the District's Acceptable Use Policy (815). The same expectations for acceptable use of technology (as outlined in the student handbook Board Policy 248 and Board Policy 249) apply to GAFE accounts.

    * The school district is required by CIPA to have technology measures and policies in place that protect students from harmful materials including those that are obscene and pornographic. This means that student Internet access is filtered. Websites containing harmful content from inappropriate sites will be blocked.

    * COPPA applies to commercial companies and limits their ability to collect personal information from children under 13. By default, Google advertising is turned off for Apps for Education users. No personal student information is collected for commercial purposes.

    * FERPA protects the privacy of student education records and gives parents rights to review student records. Under FERPA, schools may disclose directory information (name, phone, address, grade level, etc.) but parents may request that the school not disclose this information.

    * The school will not publish confidential educational records (grades, student ID #, etc.) for public viewing on the Internet.

    * The school may publish student work and photos for public viewing but will not publish student last names or other personally identifiable information.

    * Parents may request that photos, names and general directory information about their children not be published.

    * Parents have the right at any time to investigate the contents of their child’s email and Apps for Education files.

    What if we don’t have a computer, how is my child going to get to use it?

    The use of MSD GAFE is part of the instructional program and students have opportunities to work in their Google Apps account during the school day. Because MSD GAFE is safe and web based, it can be accessed from any device with a web browser (e.g. computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone). Teachers will make every effort to offer students alternatives if computer availability is limited. Internet access at home may be obtained through programs such as Comcast Internet Essentials.

    What if I do not want my student to participate in GAFE?

    The MSD will fully honor parental choices with regards to permission for use of GAFE. This means that students will not be able to collaborate and work online with students or teachers. They will still have full access to traditional textbooks and paper materials provided by the teacher.

    Parents and/or Guardians can elect not to have their student participate in this program by completing the following form:
    Methacton School District Opt Out Parent Request Form.