The following are real student responses from an international survey we conducted during Summer 2015. We asked students what changes would improve the web filtering experience. Note: our survey participants included both Securly and non-Securly users.
1. Quick Whitelisting
“At school, I would appreciate the ability for teachers or someone to quickly unblock a website for us if it was blocked wrongly or if it was needed for schoolwork. It usually just says, ‘see an administrator’, which isn’t helpful at all.”
School districts are allowed to use any web filter, as long as it complies with the FCC Children Internet Protection Act. Thus, each web filter has different functionalities and protocol for unblocking sites. Securly allows teachers to immediately whitelist a blocked site, making the site available to the entire classroom (temporarily, or not, depending on the school district’s chosen master settings).
2. Image vs. Text
“The filter should see if the page has any learning stuff on it. If it is blocked because of pictures, they should only block the pictures and not the entire page.”
Students often feel that some pages are unnecessarily restricted; this hinders their academic research, leaving them frustrated. In the meantime, students can use safe image search sites and databases to find credible information.
“Have a certain amount of time set for being on a particular website (games, social media, entertainment sites). This would be a good change because students would be able to play games but still focus on school. And not worry about trying to get around the filter anymore.”
A quick game break may refresh students from their afternoon stupor, allowing them to refocus on the topic at hand. In addition, teachers can utilize technology and social media to their advantage in lesson planning.
4. More Than Keywords
“It filters any websites with drugs which is annoying. For dance class, I’ve needed to research them as part of my coursework. I would like to see a more specific filtering system that doesn’t filter a whole site because of one word.”
Many of the comments we received had similar sentiment. Securly supports customizable user policies, focusing on a handful of filtering categories that matter most for the K-12 environment.
5. Stricter Filtering
“Web filtering also doesn’t filter everything it should. Only the things that are more popular.”
Seems like some students feel web filtering is not strict enough. Students with siblings in younger grades were particularly concerned about the availability of inappropriate information online.
6. Digital Citizenship Education
“I feel like web filtering at school is definitely necessary, however, this type of filtering is not usually used at home and therefore they [students] are not really being taught to use the Internet safely. They are just restricted from content that is seen as inappropriate that could be accessed easily at home.”
Many of the students we interviewed felt that their school did not clearly outline an Internet Safety policy or teach digital citizenship practices. Check out these tips to successfully integrate technology into your 1:1 classroom.