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General Chat Thread, web filter accuracy article in General; There's an interesting article just been posted on slashdot about the accuracy of various web filtering solutions. It's mainly focused ...
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    Geoff's Avatar
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    web filter accuracy article

    There's an interesting article just been posted on slashdot about the accuracy of various web filtering solutions. It's mainly focused on N2H2 and SmartFilter but it should be an interesting read for anyone here.

    Here's a snippet:
    From about 1996 to 2003, there were regular reports listing examples of sites stupidly blocked by blocking software. The genre has tapered off recently, probably as a result of the Supreme Court ruling in 2003 that the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was constitutional, requiring blocking software in schools and libraries that receive federal funds, despite all the evidence of over-blocking presented at the trial. The last high-profile story about a site blocked by blocking software was about the blocking of BoingBoing almost a year ago. But the lack of recent reports on blocking software errors doesn't mean that the software has gotten better.
    You can read the rest here:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/07/02/21/1435212.shtml

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    tom_newton's Avatar
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    Re: web filter accuracy article

    Thanks Geoff - interesting read. Anyone else agree that Schools would "rather block a whole lot of useful reference sites to avoid exposing one porn site" - not IME, I have to say, though they are talking about the US market, which I have less experience in!

    Tom

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    Re: web filter accuracy article

    The push from Becta and UKERNA is block it all and then open what you need, not what the students want.

    Mention this to some of the folks working on personalisation and you will see sparks and I can agree with this to some extent.

    User education tends to work better but to do that you need to have a relaxed attitude and the backing / support of teachers to actually do some classroom management. Quite often it is seen that there must be a technologically based asnwer rather than a human / common-sense answer.

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    Re: web filter accuracy article

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    The push from Becta and UKERNA is block it all and then open what you need, not what the students want.
    This is all well and good, provided we can get to what we need. I really need access to the google groups archive. The answer to all system admin problems are in there (somewhere) but the LEA say we can't have it, as it contains information on how to hack systems, and the pupils might read it. These are the same pupils, who come up to me and say "There's an error on my screen". I say, "What does it say?" and they reply "Dunno, I didn't read it", to which I reply "So, how do you know it's an error?". The pupils can't be bothered to read what is immediately in front of them, so they aren't going to read reams and reams of text which might reveal to them how to infiltrate a system.

    What we don't need is access to www.manutd.com, www.avfc.co.uk, etc but the LEA provide those, even though they say that internet access is for educational purposes only. I maintain the pupils can learn a lot of useful stuff from google groups but nothing useful from a football clubs web site, but there would be a riot if they took them away.

    When a new user logs on to our system, they get a warning message indicating that the system can't access your speakers. Hardly surprising as the thin clients have no sound card. Part of the message has a tick box which says "Never show this message again". I estimate 75% of our users click on the X for message window whenever they logon - they've never read it and so they've never noticed the check box.

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    contink's Avatar
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    Re: web filter accuracy article

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    The push from Becta and UKERNA is block it all and then open what you need, not what the students want.
    Interesting approach and whilst it does "protect" the children and the schools proverbial butt, it also results in one of the key objectives in IT to be completely unattainable.

    I had one ICT co-ordinator fuming about the changes in North Yorks (when they started with a block everything! policy) because there were murmurings of having to figure out all the sites to be visited in advance and then unblock them.. As he pointed out, the children are supposed to explore and utilise the internet search skills (a key skill in anyone net-use book) rather than spoon feeding them.

    For all that, I'm still learning about filters and how they work/don't so interesting to read more.. thanks.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Re: web filter accuracy article

    Part of the issue is schools have granular control of their filtering ... some have it amd some don't.

    The internet connection with your provider has 4 functions.

    1) Access to resources as part of Learning and Teaching (eg SAMLearning, GCSE Bitesize, whitelisted sites)
    2) Access to information as the basis of research to 'enhance' teaching and learning (non-specified pages that are generall by discovered via trawling via search engines or linked sites.)
    3) Access to materials and information that ensure the correct and efficient running of the school, its resources and its facilities (everything from statutory returns, exam entries, LA and Govt information, H&S information, Union information)
    4) Access to resource that ensure the smooth and efficient running of the IT systems to provide al of the above.

    Schools should have the ability to tailor this according the Becta and UKERNA guidance ... if your LA is not allowing this and it is affecting the running of any of the above then make representation to your LA. If they still won't do it, then name and shame the LA (with examples) to Becta ...

    Also carefully check your SLA for your connection and provided services ... if you are meant to be able to sort it yourself and they are not allowing it then it is breach of contract ...

    Escalate it ... eventually you will get to someone that listens ... especially if enough people complain.

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    contink's Avatar
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    Re: web filter accuracy article

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Schools should have the ability to tailor this according the Becta and UKERNA guidance ... if your LA is not allowing this and it is affecting the running of any of the above then make representation to your LA. If they still won't do it, then name and shame the LA (with examples) to Becta ...

    Also carefully check your SLA for your connection and provided services ... if you are meant to be able to sort it yourself and they are not allowing it then it is breach of contract ...

    Escalate it ... eventually you will get to someone that listens ... especially if enough people complain.
    Good points... As things go in North Yorks that granular control is coming but delayed because of the ISP switchover problems (whole other story).. It's certainly improved a lot but that info above is useful intel' for future reference if things get dumped or delayed further.

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