Content filtering in schools

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Brief introduction to content filtering, its benefits, issues with it and some examples of content filters.

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Content filtering in schools

  1. 1. Content Filtering in Schools Finding the best content filter for your school
  2. 2. Internet Usage in the School Teachers are encouraged to promote student responsibility with Internet usage. This means teaching students how to be safe and use the Internet wisely. This includes what information they put on the Internet, the websites they visit, and who they communicate with. Content filters are used by schools to control the content students can access in order to keep them safe.
  3. 3. The American Association of School Librarians conducted a survey between January24 through March 4, 2012 of 4,299 respondents regarding content filtering. Some benefits stated of content filtering are: • 50% indicated filtering decreased the number of potential distractions • 34% indicated filtering decreased the need for direct supervision • 23% indicated that filtering allowed research curriculum to yield more appropriate results. (AASL, 2012). Benefits of filtering content
  4. 4. Internet Usage in the School According to the American Association of School Libraries (AASL) performed a study in 2012 and found that 98% of schools and districts filter their content on the Internet. 94% use content filtering that block Internet sites that aren’t appropriate for students to view due so its content or its safety. While this is helpful for teachers and students, it can also cause some issues. (AASL, 2012)
  5. 5. Issues with filtering content When students are researching information at school, some sites may be blocked due to the adds on them, rather than their content. This can prevent students from viewing valuable content needed for their research. Furthermore, according to the respondents of the AASL survey , • 52% indicated that filtering impedes student research when completing key word searches • 42% indicated that filtering discounts the social aspects of learning • 25% stated that filtering impeded continued collaboration outside of person-to-person opportunities.
  6. 6. Issues with filtering content, cont. Teachers may plan lessons at home, only to realize they cannot teach them at school because the students can’t access the site. If the school has their own IT team install a content filter, then the teacher can have the IT staff modify the site an allow access quickly. But, if the school subscribes to a filtering service, it can take days for the service to unblock the site. (Crecent, OK) Also, not all content filters work because students can find ways around them. There are even websites that give instructions on how to do so.
  7. 7. What content do schools filter? Filtering and blocking programs prevent access to websites based on key words or site names. It works by using keywords, and it filters out sites defined by those words. Every search engine has filter options built in, as do all Internet service providers. Blocking software prevents access to sites designated as “bad.” Some companies let users customize their lists, but most search engine blocks and filters rely on pre- screening. (Common Sense Media, Inc., 2013) The sites designated as “bad” usually involve sites know to have inappropriate content for the classroom, predators, spyware/malware, scams and identifty theft. (Crecent, OK)
  8. 8. How to know what content filter is best for your school • If a school wants to install their own filter, then it has the benefits of being easily and quickly modified, but it takes a lot of work for an IT team. Also, it must be constantly modified. • If a school wants to use a filtering service, then this saves IT staff time and work. However, it may take days for sites to be blocked or unblocked and it may even cost fees from the service • (Crecent, OK)
  9. 9. Content filters for schools Scholastic, Inc. had a few content filters that worked well for filtering content that they suggested if you are looking to install your own content filter: Client/Workstation Solutions CyberPatrol http://www.surfcontrol.com CyberSnoop http://www.pearlsw.com Cybersitter http://www.solidoak.com/ Net Nanny http://www.netnanny.com/ (Scholastic, Inc, 2013) Proxy Server Solutions Bess http://www.n2h2.com/ CyberPatrol http://www.surfcontrol.com X-Shadow2 http://www.xstop.com/
  10. 10. Summary In order keep our students safe, we need to ensure they are being responsible on the Internet. Having proper content filters means our students are viewing safe sites while at school. As mentioned, determined students can find way to bypass content filters. Therefore, it is important to still teach digital citizenship and responsibility to our students.
  11. 11. Resources American Association of School Librarians (AASL) (2013). Filtering in Schools. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/research/slc/2012/filtering Common Sense Media, INC. (2013). Internet Filters Tips | Common Sense Media. Retrieved from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for- parents/internet-filters-tips Crecent OK (n.d.). Web-Based Instruction - Should Schools "Filter" Their Internet Access?. Retrieved from http://crescentok.com/staff/jaskew/WebBased/filter.htm Scholastic, Inc. (2013). Internet Safety for Schools | Scholastic.com. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/internet-safety- schools

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