choosing the right web filter for school district

How to Choose the Right Web Filter for Your School District  

Web filtering is no longer an isolated choice for schools

In addition to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), today’s school environments require web filtering as a part of a broader conversation around safeguarding and student safety.  

Sometimes a filter will come part of a suite of education-focused digital safety solutions and there can be cost savings by purchasing this way. If not, it’s important to consider the other products your filter must work closely with in order to be effective.

Close relatives of web filtering

The core “team” around your web filter will often come from the same vendor. These products must work closely together in order to provide the best value: 

Firewall – Web filtering and firewalls often go hand-in-hand. In fact, Unified Threat Management (UTM) is an entire solution that specializes in both under central management.

Digital Monitoring - Web filtering can be closely allied to digital monitoring. Filters can often block these tools from working correctly or overlap with monitoring, leading to excessive alerting.

Classroom Management – Frequently employed to allow teachers to monitor student behavior and focus, classroom management tools sometimes include ineffective filtering controls. Better to align your classroom tool with the web filter, and pay once for that feature.

Integrations

Systems that are distinct from the web filter’s core role, but should still be considered as potential allies:

Student Information Systems (SIS)  – The easier it is to get data into your central record-keeping platform, the better your outcomes will be. The worst option for record-keeping is pencil and paper, but a surprising number of schools use this approach. It’s key to ensure your record-keeping system can work with your filter and monitor products and can easily accept output from them.

Active Directory – All web filters should integrate with your AD. Ensure you choose a filter that can get user and group level integration from AD.

Google Directory & Google  Classroom  –GSuite is widespread use in education, with some schools moving entirely to Google products. Ensure your filter vendor has access to GSuite information. If you’re a Google school, be sure to ask your vendor about their Google expansion plans in the future.

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