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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, Frog monitoring in Technical; Hi all, First post here. I've completely run out of ideas. I'm a VLE Manager for five schools in Northumberland. ...
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    Question Frog monitoring

    Hi all,

    First post here. I've completely run out of ideas.

    I'm a VLE Manager for five schools in Northumberland. 3000 students, 800 members of staff.

    Before I was appointed, the Trust decided to purchase Frog.

    I've spent the past 6 months project planning and developing, getting the staff on. So on, so forth. I've put off getting the students on to the platform because contrary to what I'm telling staff/students, Frog has zero ability to monitor student behaviour.

    It's OK in terms of checking a user's history - nothing can be deleted from the platform, an individual user's e-mail/status update/wall post history can be seen/deleted. Discussion Forums aren't such a big deal either.

    However, if Student X decides to swear on the social networking aspect of the platform, or decides to bully Student Y, I won't know about it unless a friend of Student X reports him. Only a user's friends can see their social networking activities on the platform - even though I'm a moderator.

    Partially due to our catchment area, partially due to school ethos, this simply won't work. We can't, in any way, rely on students reporting each other.

    Suggestions to date have been...
    • Close the social networking - possible, but this is my absolute last line of defence, as I want to use these features to engage our students
    • Set up a proxy to filter POST/GET data - not possible with our current network infrastructure
    • Use our existing monitoring software (Policy Central) to scan the network - will be doing that during the day, but the number of false positives is absolutely vast and it doesn't cover Frog access outside of our schools
    • Run a PHP script on the MySQL database - I could do that easily and effectively, but I have no access to the Frogserver's MySQL DBs. We would have to sign a waiver for that, which would mean Frog offering limited support and possibly manual platform updates.


    So, I'm wondering if anyone else has any ideas? I was thinking along the lines of a website scanner, but I'm not even sure what that is! I think I've got a search engine robot in my head. Something which follows links and checks each page's source code for a list of bad words. That would suffice!

    Hmm, I wonder if we could embed Google Analytics then use that...

    Thanks in advance.

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    enjay's Avatar
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    I think you might be looking for a technical solution to a non-technical problem here. Okay, so you can't monitor to socnet and only know about inappropriate acts if someone tells you, but isn't that largely the case with the school playground too? Unless you happen to see someone getting teased, taunted, hit, etc, you have to wait until someone reports it. Just a thought.

    Here's a thought, just as I go for the "post" button. Could you make it a requirement that everyone is "friends" with their tutor or Head or Year, so staff have visibility of all postings? That's what we've done with our email groups which deliver to students...
    Last edited by enjay; 30th March 2011 at 03:57 PM.

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    Just at one school, we have security cameras covering all student accessible outdoor areas, and at lunch time we tend to have 6 members of staff patrolling said areas. Virtually, on Frog, we can't do that. Would you let students into a play area completely unsupervised with zero forms of monitoring? Probably not.

    Thanks for your suggestion of Securus - Policy Central does the same thing, but as you point out, activity outside of school would go completely unnoticed.

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    enjay's Avatar
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    No, I wouldn't leave students completely unmonitored, but equally we don't have eyes on every kid all the time. Staff patrol at lunchtimes by walking around school, so that leaves unsupervised areas (i.e. the room the teacher has just left), and we don't have full visibility of what happens in the corridors between lessons. Maybe we can afford to be more relaxed than you, it does depend on the type of school.

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    Yeah, of course, but then again if you use Securus or similar on the school computers, then you're doing what I'm wanting to do on Frog.

    I just can't see how it's safe in any way to have students accessing a VLE without someone being able to monitor its usage.

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    Do students have email accounts, and if so, are you monitoring those in any way? Come to that, do you monitor the files which they have in their MyDocs folders? Or, stepping away from the technical, do you monitor what books they're carrying in their bags, or every word or action which passes between pupils as they walk around the school?

    I'm not saying you shouldn't look for a way to control bullying via the VLE, but just trying to say that it isn't necessarily a technical problem (at least, not entirely a technical one), and isn't necessarily a problem which arrived when you got Frog.

    How about my suggestion above of making everyone be friends with a Head of Year?

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    Well, all computer use is monitored, yes. Any time a student types a word that's flagged on our "bad word list" into a computer at school, Policy Central logs it and takes a screenshot. That obviously includes all documents in "My Documents", including file names and so on. Similarly, we don't track student books, but we expect to actually see them - if there's swearing on a student's book or planner when handed in, the teacher would deal with that as they deemed fit.

    Using the same analogy, Frog is like a blind teacher because we can't see what's going on at all unless we somehow know about it in the first place (back to students reporting each other).

    It would be a laborious process to add 400 students as a Head of Year's friend, but one I'd be willing to go through if it would prove beneficial. Unfortunately, the Head of Year would only be able to see status updates (only the person that sends and receives a wall post can see that) and then they'd have to trawl through a potentially unlimited number of status updates on a daily basis, with no facility to search for certain words. This would appear in the Head of Year's "Personal Feed" (similar to Facebook feed, but muuuuuch smaller), which I believe carries a limited number of entries - around 20 or so, per day.

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    I have the same problem and have just taken the decision to remove the wall posts / status updates from students for similar reasons to those you are anticipating.

    I would suggest going to the Frog IdeaPad and checking for and if needed putting in feature requests for a couple of different things:
    • To allow admins to have a report of all wall posts / status updates so that we can see who wrote what to who.
    • A profanity / bad words filter to built in to the forums, status / wall posts, if not any form.


    If do put these onto the IdeaPad then let me know and I will put my vote to your ideas (if I have any left).

    We have also seen them changing their profile pictures to something inappropriate also. For this we have given them a warning that their pictures will be reset to those in SIMS if the dodgy ones don't vanish. I have a feature request for a report to show all profile pictures which someone has managed to produce some code to something, though I have not tried it yet. I would still prefer that to be built into the system.

    Frog is good but from a reporting and monitoring position is it severely lacking and needs a significant amount of work. If I had realised just how poor it was I would have strongly advised against purchasing it. I would have been overridden but as least I would have had the satisfaction of saying "I told you so" to the boss.

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    @dunc - fair enough, sounds like you monitor content and activity much more closely than we do. For the type of school I'm in, I don't see it as so much of a problem, but in the sort of school where Policy Central gets regular use and all free-time needs CCTV monitoring, I can see your concerns.

    Maybe rather than HOY, especially in 400 student years, you could go with tutors instead? sjatkin's suggestions sound better in the long-run though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sjatkn View Post
    I have the same problem and have just taken the decision to remove the wall posts / status updates from students for similar reasons to those you are anticipating.

    I would suggest going to the Frog IdeaPad and checking for and if needed putting in feature requests for a couple of different things:
    • To allow admins to have a report of all wall posts / status updates so that we can see who wrote what to who.
    • A profanity / bad words filter to built in to the forums, status / wall posts, if not any form.


    If do put these onto the IdeaPad then let me know and I will put my vote to your ideas (if I have any left).

    We have also seen them changing their profile pictures to something inappropriate also. For this we have given them a warning that their pictures will be reset to those in SIMS if the dodgy ones don't vanish. I have a feature request for a report to show all profile pictures which someone has managed to produce some code to something, though I have not tried it yet. I would still prefer that to be built into the system.

    Frog is good but from a reporting and monitoring position is it severely lacking and needs a significant amount of work. If I had realised just how poor it was I would have strongly advised against purchasing it. I would have been overridden but as least I would have had the satisfaction of saying "I told you so" to the boss.
    That's exactly where we're at, and I agree on all counts.

    The Executive Director of the Trust and I are meeting with Frog directors in Halifax on Tuesday, so hopefully I'll be able to get some resolution. I'll be printing your post off too, to show that we're not the only school in the same position.

    It worries me immensely that other schools are having exactly the same problem... but don't realise. If you don't ask the right questions, it's easy to be misled into thinking that "everything is fine" because Frog is "safe and secure".

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    We have just purchased frog and almost at the design meeting part.
    Have yet to get on to the community part and if votes are required to get a "Filter/Check" etc then you will surely have my vote.

    Problem was always going to be there if you have students (like ours) then this was always going to be a problem, at the moment we are only sending this to staff @ september. As for students we are going to make it perfectly clear that once they abuse it, they lose it. I am guessing there is a way to limit what they see and do so they can JUST have the "My HomeWork" and no longer able to post/make friends etc etc?

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    re Mark. All of this will depend on your set-up it can be achieved by using a seperate profile, which limits them to specific pages, or with groups, but usually it's an all or nothing type senario unless you customise it.

    I'm with you all on the monitoring and filtering, and general admin side of things, scrolling through chat logs is one of my least favourite jobs, but someone has to do it, as there are not tools to help.

  13. Thanks to frogwoman from:

    mthomas08 (1st April 2011)

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    Cheers for that, that was on my mind about creating some thing that was very limited and only allowed them to do what they need. We also can punish them in other ways so we will totally discourage them from abusing it. It will still happen, kids are kids, would frog develope some thing down the line which allows a simple profanity scan and we can see the results?

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    I don't know, you'd have to ask Frog. It's not that difficult after you've been on the Architecture course, and that's only a 1 day!

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    I have just had a look at the IdeaPad on the Frog support site and found these existing requests, so no real need for developing more. Please consider voting for them and adding your thoughts if needed.

    Keyword Filtering for status updates
    Keyword filtering for status updates for the students would be great. Having the ability to add words to a list that are not allowed to be used on status updates.

    'Report This' button
    This is an idea coming from our students - they would like a 'Report This' button that could be added onto any page we chose, so if it requires attention (for example a users' status update) it will automatically email an admin highlighting the issue, with a message if required.

    Status updates database
    I would like to be able to see ALL status updates sorted by date and time. On this list I would like to see what the status says, who it was from and when it was posted.
    I know this is doable by using admin tools ? user logs, but you have to select users on an individual basis. We would like to see a complete list to make the job of monitoring less tedious.

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