Utah school software will send alerts about student accounts

Ogden • A Utah school district adopted computer software that alerts administrators and parents to activity in student Google accounts that may raise concerns.

The Weber School District in Ogden plans to use the free service called Bark that flags mentions of self-harm, drugs or weapons in online accounts, The Standard-Examiner reported Saturday.

Parents and students were informed of the program that began two weeks ago, district officials said.

Administrators will receive snippets of conversations or copies of Google documents containing the flagged content, officials said.

Alerts are generated through artificial intelligence and algorithms, District Technology Director Lynn Raymond said.

"We're not trying to catch kids doing bad things," Raymond said. "It's trying to train them how to be safe, how to be protected and how to be appropriate with your online and your digital footprint."

The experience will be valuable for students who eventually use university or employer computer accounts and email, Raymond said.

Parents can choose to receive the same notifications as administrators, although access will be limited to information about their own children.

About 25% of parents in the district have opted in, Technology and Media Supervisor Nick Harris said.

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