Digital Schools and Surveillance

A podcast about living and learning in the age of screentime. Welcome to Episode 14 of Season Two: Digital Schools and Surveillance.

A moment from our lives

The school district where Ian’s son attends school is located near a new Google Data Center

Nearly 40,000 students in the school district have access to Chromebooks, a Google laptop which uses the Chrome internet browser as its operating system. It allows students to use apps such as Google Docs to edit, write and share homework and assignments with classmates in real-time. Every first- through 12th-grader in the school district has a Chromebook as a result of numerous donations from Google. This is a useful resource for one of South Carolina’s largest school districts.

The tech giant often gives back through philanthropic partnerships. While the charity was appreciated, the district didn’t know what it was getting into: The access to technology has opened up a vault of unintended consequences.

The school district uses third-party monitoring software programmed to flag keywords and notify employees of potentially dangerous situations ahead of parents and law enforcement. The district is monitoring and surveilling students as they use the Chromebooks & Google Docs.


In this episode, we discuss how much data gathering and surveillance is acceptable to ensure school safety?


Berkeley County school kids are bullying each other in Google Docs. What’s being done?

Spying on children won’t keep them safe

Facial recognition moves into a new front: Schools

1.7 million students attend schools with police but no counselors

The Answer for Schools is Not More Technology. It’s Teachers and Human Connection.

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The Technopanic Podcast is a podcast about living and learning in an age of screentime.

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About the author

Ian O'Byrne

Dr. W. Ian O’Byrne is a educator, researcher, & speaker. His work centers on teaching, learning, and technology. He investigates the literacy practices of individuals as they read, write, and communicate in online & hybrid spaces.

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