To filter or not to filter, that is the question.

Content Filtering

Content filtering, a big topic of discussion. This is used in the workplace, collages, secondary, primary and even homes in some cases. Every where we go we are being monitored and whether we are allowed to visit a specific site is no longer down to us. This has been the case for many years.

When we look more specifically at the education sector we tend to see three models;

– A completely draconian type content filter laid down by the LEA that cannot be adjusted by the school.

– A mix of the above with further restrictions imposed by the school itself that can be tweaked.

– Content filtering in house, full control by the school.

With the adoption of one to one programmes for iPad, computers and mobile devices in use in most lessons content filtering has become even more of a hot topic. This is for two reasons, with the constant access to the web our students have we need to get it right. They need to be safe online. We also need to make sure we don’t hinder the educator from teaching their lesson based on something being blocked.

In house content filtering in my eyes is by far the best solution, this isn’t a particularly expensive option as quite a bulk of the SLA schools pay to the LEA covers content filtering. It isn’t hard to do either, once it has been setup, sites can be blocked, allowed and reports run on who did what when easily.

A lot of our clients tend to use Smoothwall, they have a massive education team, are reasonable on price and offer great support. There product is focussed around education and works well with things like YouTube for schools, etc.

Decisions

Whats the other option to content filtering?

Well there is a school of thought that suggests you don’t content filter! Scary eh.

The idea is that education is far better than hiding the students from the scary world that is out there. Most of us don’t content filter our home networks, yet our children come home fire up the iPad and are let lose on the big bad web.

E-safety plays a massive part in the education of our children in schools in both Primary and Secondary. No content filtering in secondary schools is rare but does happen. But at a Primary age it can work very effectively. When started in foundation stage and worked upon throughout key stage 1 and 2 it can provide a brilliant foundation for life.

We need to educate the students in the safe use of the web, how to report something they don’t like, how to get away from a situation they are uncomfortable with. The dangers of sharing personal information online, the various sites out there that seem to give a lot away, namely adult sites and illegal file sharing, but when accessed also expose the computer to a lot of risk.

Why not educate our children ready for the world they are going into rather than hide them from what is out there. We have seen time and time again a content filtered network where a child has Googled something innocent and found an adult image in the search results. The teacher freaks out, the child panics and all hell breaks lose. Why not educate instead?

Just a thought, we are not saying one or the other is the way forward, just sharing something that makes me think. I was reading an article this morning on trends in education IT in 2015 and a downward trend that was mentioned was the draconian filtering at the LEA. So I thought I might as well put some options across. If you are interested the article was http://www.teachthought.com/trends/30-trends-education-technology-2015/

If you would like to discuss anything mentioned in this post or any other ICT requirements then please contact Kyle or Gary via sales@primaryictandmedia.co.uk, call us on 0161 850 1117 or message us via Facebook or Twitter

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