Starting with the 2016-2017 school year, all Pace email accounts and online services moved to Google platforms such as Google Drive, Gmail and Google Classroom. Some of the upperclassmen and much of the faculty remember when Pace used First Class as its main server for email and online announcements.
Google’s large popularity and mass market, especially among schools, has raised concerns within the Pace community over the past few months. Threats of security breaches, privacy concerns over use of search data and other user information, along with the issue of having multiple school and personal accounts tied to one device have become too much.
As a precaution to maintain the security of Pace’s online accounts, the Pace administration is set to announce that Pace will be switching back to using First Class for the 2020-2021 academic school year.
Those who remember First Class will likely remember its adorable, modern graphics that are a variety of different colors. Like our current Google Groups, each of these symbols represents a group like “Upper School News & Announcements” or the newest addition to the Pace online community, “Wellness and Connection.” Students may also change these graphics to build a desktop that is aesthetically pleasing to them.
At the same time, students may check their email on the server, giving the program a larger and more continuous feeling compared to the Google family. First Class also makes multi-tasking across several different messaging platforms easier. For students who have not turned on notifications from Google Groups or find that they receive too many notifications from the wide variety of groups on the site, using First Class will allow for a happy medium, where students have a constant reminder of the variety of groups that they should check without having their inboxes flooded with messages.
First Class also takes care of any security concerns that families, as well as the school, may have. At this point, Google is so widely used and database hacks are so common throughout the world that it is quite possible that there could be a security breach in which information is taken not only from Pace but also its students. First Class is much less common and has added extra security measures to prevent such breaches, which makes it safer for the Pace community as a whole. These measures also help prevent spam emails from being sent to Pace students, making the Pace community safer and more secure.
Apart from all the other “pros” for moving back to First Class, there is also the simple fact that the platform is more streamlined, pleasing to the eye, modern and reliable. As students who have experience with the site know, the software is constantly being updated and rarely glitches, making it much easier for students to rely on and use on a daily basis.
While the site does not contain its own service to match Google Docs or Slides, many teachers prefer using Microsoft Word anyway, especially English teacher Bailey Player. “Google just makes poetry journals and other assignments so difficult to grade,” said Mr. Player. “It just makes more sense to have paper copies because Google’s comment feature is unreliable and confusing. This change was needed.”
Other teachers are sad to see the beloved Google platform go. English teacher Don DuPree, an avid proponent of Google Docs and an expert in how to use Google Classroom, is most upset about the change. “It’s only been a few years using Google, but I instantly knew that Google Docs was the best way to run classes,” said Dr. DuPree. “It’s just so easy to use.”
Time will tell exactly how this change will affect students, but Pace is working on a plan to train all students in updates and how to use the software. As of now, incoming freshmen and new students will be trained immediately following their orientation, and returning students will be trained later that day so that everyone is proficient with the software prior to the first day of school.