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Educational Software Thread, Most commonly used internet security at schools in Technical; Hi, Apologies first of all if this is not the right place for my question. I wasn't sure where to ...
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    Most commonly used internet security at schools

    Hi,

    Apologies first of all if this is not the right place for my question. I wasn't sure where to put it and this seemed the best fit.

    I work at the RSPB and we provide PDF resources for both primary and secondary schools on our website.

    We have had a report that a primary teacher could not download the PDFs to her school laptop because it gave her a message along the lines of "something is preventing the webpage from being displayed. You may need to login". This is not the case however - the PDFs are freely available.

    Obviously something is wrong and I am very keen to investigate since if one teacher cannot download our teaching resources then others are bound to be having the same problem.

    Example (downloads on the right): http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/teach...e/web_game.asp

    Therefore, I am looking for some advice as to what software is commonly installed on school PCs to provide internet security. We may need to test our site with that software to ensure that teachers can download the resources we are providing for them.

    If anyone can give me any advice on this it would be most appreciated.

    Best regards,

    Graham
    Last edited by grahambird; 4th June 2008 at 10:18 AM. Reason: typo

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    We use Surfcontrol/Websense here a lot of the schools on here seem to use the Smoothwall offering.

    The way that the download links on your site are formed, including a redirect url in the request could be causing some of your problems:

    Code:
    http://uk.sitestat.com/rspb/website/s?downloads.other.133477&ns_type=pdf&ns_url=[http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/foodwebteacher1_tcm9-133477.pdf]
    It looks like it could be to do with tracking the number of downloads but you could probably do this with the web server logs, drop the redirect and just have it pointing directly at the files which would reduce the chances of anything going wrong.

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Our web filtering is provided by RM -a big education provider. We have no problem with your site and, indeed, the teacher in the room next to my office was using it about an hour ago!

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    Geoff's Avatar
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    A little background information is probably in order so you can get a handle on how things work in primary schools (or don't, depending on your perspective).

    In a primary school environment it's highly likely they have no on site technical support (as employing someone even on a part time basis is beyond their budget) thus they will be relying on their LEA for support.

    As such there will most likely be nothing on the PC and web filtering will be provided by the LEA in their data centre. This is usually on a 'one size fits all' basis where there will be a generic filtering policy for all the school.

    Therefore, as this sounds like a filtering problem, it's down to the teacher to ring up the LEA and ask for your PDFs to be unblocked. The LEA hopefully will be able to do this, however some wont because of inflexible filtering solutions, apathy or incompetence.

    If there is something broken on the machine that's stopping the PDFs from working, again the teacher will have to ring up the LEA and arrange for a site visit, this will be at an extortionate hourly rate. So it's quite likely the school wont want to pay for this.

    On the whole, the teacher is probably better off downloading the pdfs at home and bringing them into school.

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    joe90bass's Avatar
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    No prob here using Surfcontrol

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    Hi,

    Thanks for the quick replies. Please keep the suggestions coming.

    Geoff - thanks for the primary school context and the LEA info. Do you know how this compares with a secondary environment?

    SYNACK - you're right that our tracked links aren't ideal. We will look into alternatives.

    Thanks again - really valuable info.

    Graham

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    We use SchoolGuardian and we've got no problems here.

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    Geoff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambird View Post
    thanks for the primary school context and the LEA info. Do you know how this compares with a secondary environment?
    In a secondary school enviroment, you will have on site technical support. Additionally there may be another filtering solution that runs 'behind' the LEA filter.

    The teacher concerned would of never bothered to complain to you about the problem, the techies at the school would of either fixed the problem with the local filter/pc/software and/or bypassed the LEA filtering/security to obtain the documents for the teacher.

    If there was truely something broken on your site, again they would of contacted you rather than the teacher.

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    GlennT's Avatar
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    From our school, the URL is blocked because it contains the word "Game".
    It may be worth asking the school in question to explicitly allow www.rspb.org.uk* in their filtering system?
    Glenn.

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    Hi GlennT,

    Wow! That's some harsh filtering. Is that unusually strict?

    Graham

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    We are pretty tough on that sort of thing here..... they still seem to find a way around it though!

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambird View Post
    Hi GlennT,

    Wow! That's some harsh filtering. Is that unusually strict?

    Graham

    Nope... we spend a large proportion of our time encouraging the little darlings to do work and not play games....

    There's also the eBay porn filter example where listings featuring small birds such as blue-tits fail because the word tit is banned in listings

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    Are filtered words such as "game" excluded for teacher's PCs too? In other words, as a general rule, will teacher's PCs have the same filtering as the PCs in the ICT suite?

    Graham

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambird View Post
    Are filtered words such as "game" excluded for teacher's PCs too? In other words, as a general rule, will teacher's PCs have the same filtering as the PCs in the ICT suite?

    Graham
    The teachers are just as likely to be filtered in the same way as not because some of the filtering options are a one size fits all thing that just filters everybody on the network in the same way. We have a few providers here which filter like that. Not at any of the sites that I manage though.

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Filtering is almost always at Network level. There's definitely no choice for those of us who have filtering by outside bodies such as the Local Authority or RM

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