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Blue Skies Thread, Turn the filters off and use Securus in General; After seeing a lecture by Russel Prue of andertontiger.com (and what a lecture it was - if you ever get ...
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    BatchFile's Avatar
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    Turn the filters off and use Securus

    After seeing a lecture by Russel Prue of andertontiger.com (and what a lecture it was - if you ever get the chance to see him jump at it), I'm considering recommending turning off the internet filters as far as we can (our LEA has two categories of filtering - one heavier than the other - the lighter one allows youtube and social networking but blocks pr0n) and using an active monitoring system such as Securus instead.

    Any thoughts?

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    plexer's Avatar
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    Local level filtering such as smoothwall is active filtering and that can be set to log everything but not actually block it.

    Depends on if you have the man power to monitor the systems.

    Yes having talked with Russel on numerous occassions I don't think we should nanny or baby sit students but then there are aspects of the web that people should be prevented from accessing in a school environment.

    Ben

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    Edu-IT's Avatar
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    You also have to think about network security. Some sites are blocked for a reason.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Would you remove the airbags to make your car go faster?

    I don't get why you would want to loose an extra layer of protection unless it is really causing issues by being unresponsive or something. At that point why not an internal network level system like Smoothwall or Websence.

    I agree with the whole 'room to fall' learning aspect but it is not only the pupils who are protected by the filters. Without them if anything goes wrong or a student bypassed local security then the school, supervising teacher and even the tech staff can be for it. Why take the chance?

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    AngryTechnician's Avatar
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    I know that Brune Park Community College in Gosport do exactly this, because I visited them recently to see their student laptop scheme in action. Not sure if any of their staff are on here but the Deputy Head said there had been very few problems since they made the switch in September.

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    muppet's Avatar
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    Isn't there a duty of care issue here?
    It wasn't that long ago that the press was full of reports about pupils being able to access an inappropriate image in Leeds (I think?) and parents were asking for heads to roll. Now while this was a primary school they were going on about surely the principle is the same for secondary schools.

    I think you had better clarify if there is a responsibilty to filter inappropriate stuff from pupils and more importantly who will be held responsible if / when that stuff is accessed and parents / press find out. The finger of blame gets waved around madly with these types of issues and I'd want a big umberella to hide under when the proverbial hits the fan!!!!

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    stinkfoot's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I'd like to be the one who has to explain to little Jimmy's parents why he accidently accessed pornographic photographs while searching for pictures of rabbits for his My Favourite Animal project!

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    @plexer
    Active filtering and active monitoring are two different things.

    Breakdown time

    Reactive filtering - a filtering solution that you get in, don't touch really apart from to stick kids on at certain levels and if something gets through or something is blocked (and needed) you ring company x to blacklist / whitelist accordingly.

    Active filtering - you take control of the filtering system, tweak it to suit your needs, check logs (or have it email you information) on a regulare basis to help you choose how you tweak it. You also work with the different departments to change the filtering before the need arises.

    Reactive monitoring - having solutions like Securus which track what kids are doing (and staff I suppose) and the negative results are captured to be reviewed after the fact. Stress on the negative results (based on the use of keywords)

    Active monitoring - the use of classroom management tools such as AB Tutor Control and RM Tutor to look at, and work with, the kids on their computers, sharing the desktop ... allowing students to display and demonstrate work to others, etc.

    A combination of any two of the above it a good thing, but the best solution is likely to be active-active.

    To make most use of this you need to help the staff understand limits and boundaries which they need to support the kids with. You need to look at some of the web 2.0 and social networking tools out there to look at the educational benefit.

    There are a number of good places to look at this ... going over old TeachMeet materials is good, edte.ch is good, EdTechRoundup.com ... and many more.

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    BatchFile (18th March 2010)

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    BatchFile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Would you remove the airbags to make your car go faster?

    I don't get why you would want to loose an extra layer of protection unless it is really causing issues by being unresponsive or something. At that point why not an internal network level system like Smoothwall or Websence.

    I agree with the whole 'room to fall' learning aspect but it is not only the pupils who are protected by the filters. Without them if anything goes wrong or a student bypassed local security then the school, supervising teacher and even the tech staff can be for it. Why take the chance?
    Quote Originally Posted by muppet View Post
    Isn't there a duty of care issue here?
    It wasn't that long ago that the press was full of reports about pupils being able to access an inappropriate image in Leeds (I think?) and parents were asking for heads to roll. Now while this was a primary school they were going on about surely the principle is the same for secondary schools.

    I think you had better clarify if there is a responsibilty to filter inappropriate stuff from pupils and more importantly who will be held responsible if / when that stuff is accessed and parents / press find out. The finger of blame gets waved around madly with these types of issues and I'd want a big umberella to hide under when the proverbial hits the fan!!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by stinkfoot View Post
    I'm not sure I'd like to be the one who has to explain to little Jimmy's parents why he accidently accessed pornographic photographs while searching for pictures of rabbits for his My Favourite Animal project!
    As I said in passing, the LEA don't provide a totally unfiltered feed at all - even the "unfiltered" one that I'm (blue sky) thinking of connecting the ISA server to has pornography and other unpleasantness blocked, but does allow access to social networking, forums etc., which is where I see Securus's keyword based monitoring and capturing completing the loop.

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    dayzd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Reactive monitoring - having solutions like Securus which track what kids are doing (and staff I suppose) and the negative results are captured to be reviewed after the fact. Stress on the negative results (based on the use of keywords)
    Relying on Securus for your in-house monitoring (beyond your LEAs basic filtering) begs the question: just how much time have you got?

    We have a Securus box and the amount of false positives it provides is staggering. I look through hundreds of screenshots on it daily, and besides pupils using coarse language in emails to each other, there's very rarely anything that needs any follow-up.
    It's library of words and phrases is so huge, and the client is so thorough (it captures Photoshop Elements 'Touch up' button as 'touch u' SOOO many times a day... Kids typing 'wog won' in emails to each other is flagged as racist, and I'd bet most of our kids couldn't tell you why), it demands a serious amount of time to review it all.

    Now I know you can turn down its tenaciousness, but in the years we've had it, we've seen need for it to flag everything. (We had an incident where certain things were being flagged, and upon further investigation we found many more that were of lower weighting that we would have otherwise missed.)

    The other thing to remember about blocking social networking sites and youtube etc, beyond inappropriate content, is that it help keeps pupils on task - how much real work do you think would get done if kids could sneakily play Farmville at the back of the class?

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Yep ... and that is why my preference is active-active ... it pushes the onus back towards classroom management and less on the technology.

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    BatchFile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abullett View Post
    Relying on Securus for your in-house monitoring (beyond your LEAs basic filtering) begs the question: just how much time have you got?

    We have a Securus box and the amount of false positives it provides is staggering. I look through hundreds of screenshots on it daily, and besides pupils using coarse language in emails to each other, there's very rarely anything that needs any follow-up.
    It's library of words and phrases is so huge, and the client is so thorough (it captures Photoshop Elements 'Touch up' button as 'touch u' SOOO many times a day... Kids typing 'wog won' in emails to each other is flagged as racist, and I'd bet most of our kids couldn't tell you why), it demands a serious amount of time to review it all.

    Now I know you can turn down its tenaciousness, but in the years we've had it, we've seen need for it to flag everything. (We had an incident where certain things were being flagged, and upon further investigation we found many more that were of lower weighting that we would have otherwise missed.)

    The other thing to remember about blocking social networking sites and youtube etc, beyond inappropriate content, is that it help keeps pupils on task - how much real work do you think would get done if kids could sneakily play Farmville at the back of the class?
    How big's your school?
    I only ask as this is very much at the (pre)feasibility study stage at the moment (hence it being in the Blue Skies forum)
    Last edited by BatchFile; 18th March 2010 at 12:36 PM.

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    dayzd's Avatar
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    We're a pretty large secondary. 1300-ish pupils, a little under 700 workstations.

    However, our Securus box is only lisenced for 300 clients, so not all machines report back efficiently - as far as I can tell it gets a little 'first come, first served', and if a machine hasn't sent it's logs for a while, it ends up dumping a few days worth in one go.

    It still needs regular checking (I tend to keep a tab open for it in FF), it just means sometimes you get 20 violations/hr and sometimes 200...

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    JJonas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abullett View Post
    We're a pretty large secondary. 1300-ish pupils, a little under 700 workstations.

    However, our Securus box is only lisenced for 300 clients, so not all machines report back efficiently - as far as I can tell it gets a little 'first come, first served', and if a machine hasn't sent it's logs for a while, it ends up dumping a few days worth in one go.

    It still needs regular checking (I tend to keep a tab open for it in FF), it just means sometimes you get 20 violations/hr and sometimes 200...
    You can get the maximum client load from the front panel of the securus box

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    webman's Avatar
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    Is it really our responsibility to monitor the likes of Securus? I would suggest it's more to do with the behaviour/pastoral side of things.

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