school web filtering control policies

Flexible Web Filtering Policy – Who, What, Where, When

How a flexible web filtering policy provides a premium solution for school districts

School districts often have complex needs when it comes to Internet access and digital safety – it’s typical to have a broad range of age groups of students, a diverse mix of device types, students with 24/7 WiFi access from their own devices, and a fine balance to strike between the freedom to learn and the duty of care to protect their well-being.  

The web filtering policy controls within Smoothwall Filter help school districts achieve these aims in an intuitive, flexible, and powerful policy system. 

In the area of digital safety, these needs are more defined than others. Many of the tools we use in digital safety aren’t even present in the corporate world, and the concepts and ideas don’t follow through. A corporate web filter, for example, might be there to ensure productivity by denying the major social networks, or head off a lawsuit by keeping adult content from office devices. However, it’s likely to serve other functions like preventing leaks of sensitive information and is often chosen on how little impact it will have on day-to-day operations.   

There are a number of education-focused vendors – some of whom offer a strong, premium web filter and digital safety offering, and others who have added these features to a broader set of tools like classroom management. It’s important to set these apart in the best interest of students.

All Smoothwall filter policies consist of four elements – Who, What, Where and When

    • Who – typically schools will implement filtering based on age group, with content restricted more heavily for younger students. Staff may still have filtering applied, but with a much less restrictive policy. These groups can come from existing authentication systems such as Microsoft Active Directory and Google G Suite. It is also possible to apply filtering policies to individual users if necessary.
    • What – Smoothwall Filter’s powerful dynamic content analysis engine powers <x> categorieswhich gives the ability to apply policies using constantly updated definitions.  Schools can also create their own categories to apply rules such as walled gardens – which may be used during exams, prep or isolation to limit users to a specific list of websites only.  These rules may also be delegated to staff, who may be granted the ability to edit specific portions of the filtering policy.
    • Where – a school district’s network is vast and likely covers multiple school buildings. The ability to apply different filtering policies based on the physical location of a user can give powerful controls to the school, such as allowing access to games only from specific places. 
    • When – not all school districts will have boarders, but the need to differentiate filtering policies depending on the time of day can still be required – break times, after-school activities and clubs may require different rules than the normal school day.  Quota controls can also be used to implement digital well-being controls – such as limiting students to 30 minutes of social media per day, and only between certain hours and from specific locations. 

If you have a question or would like to arrange a demonstration the only content-aware web filter, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to help.

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