By Tom Walker
Web filtering is an effective tool to ensure online student safety. Recent innovations have allowed web filtering to improve from a rather stationary service, to a mobile and easy-to-use necessity. Schools are starting to abandon inconvenient web filtering hardware in favor of flexible cloud-based solutions which better provide for 1:1 program safety measures. And now, we can protect our students anytime, anywhere.
Web Filtering At School
When I think of web filtering, my mind always gravitates toward school web filtering. Why not? Web filtering has been prevalent in schools the last 15 years or so. Whether the goal is to keep students away from harmful sites or the need to monitor web activity, filtering has a solid place in K-12 schools. While at school, the walled garden not only benefits students, but also helps to keep malicious websites at bay. The ever increasing number of malicious websites and network intrusions can be problematic for school IT staff, thus filtering plays a key role in helping to block them.
What happens outside of school though? Many home routers have long employed filtering capabilities, but the features were generally quite limited. The home router was akin to the school filtering appliance. The home router could only filter at home, whereas the school appliance could only filter at school. Luckily, web filtering continues to adapt to the ever changing technological landscape thanks to the advances of cloud computing.
Web Filtering Outside of School
Over the last few years, one of the truly amazing advances in technology has been the ability to take your services with you. Whether it is having constant access to once static files or easily moving entire photo albums around, cloud based technology has changed the way we look at things.
With the advent of cloud based filtering, filtering outside of school with school centric policies has come to fruition. Not only do 1:1 programs have devices filtered at school, but the filtering can go wherever the device is. Additionally, features like safe search and utilizing safe alternatives provide an extra layer of protection for the users and devices in and out of school. With this approach, school staff can be a little less worrisome about the devices leaving school grounds. The students are kept safe online, as are the devices from intrusive viruses, malware, and ransomware.
Web Filtering Anywhere
Web filtering has entered a time where it can be done at from a multitude of locations. Like many other educational ideas and services, it is no longer confined to the walls of the school. School based policies can now travel along with the students, helping a 1:1 program stay consistent and benefitting all parties involved in the process. So when I think of web filtering, I no longer need to think of it as something that just happens at school. It can happen anywhere.
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