Hempfield's 1:1 iPads have a content filter installed on them to block access to adult content and other inappropriate material. Previously, the filter utilized Apple's built-in controls that were largely limited to blocking adult content and did not provide many other options.
Across the tech industry, mobile device filtering has been rapidly advancing and working to address the challenges of filtering the Internet, and doing so on a device that frequently changes networks, while still providing reliable access to appropriate content. Finding a filter that works well has traditionally been a challenge, and the district has always had to balance the extent and scope of filtering with how much functionality is lost.
Given the district's desire to provide the best solution for students and parents, and with new products in the marketplace, we are deploying a new filter for 1:1 iPads during the month of October, 2016. As indicated in the district's Responsible Use Policy (Board Policy 815
) and the iPad Usage Agreement
, no filter is perfect and parents should not expect every piece of objectionable material to be removed from the Internet connection. The intent of the Responsible Use Policy and iPad Usage Agreement is for students to make good choices when using technology resources. Accidentally clicking the wrong link or having a random piece of inappropriate material appear can and does happen and does not result in any disciplinary measures. The purpose of the filter is to prevent the majority of adult content from being accessible.
In October, Hempfield will be deploying Securly
as the new content filter on 1:1 iPads. Securly was chosen to address several specific problems with the existing filter, including better image search control, YouTube filtering and accessibility, and better support for keyword blocking without sacrificing reliability. In addition to these features, Securly's long term plans include a significant set of controls for parents to monitor and adjust iPad usage at home. Image Searches are now restricted to images flagged for "reuse and modification," generally limiting results to images appropriate for education. YouTube is now accessible, but only in a restricted mode which allows education-safe videos and other videos specifically requested by teachers to be viewed. Keyword blocking allows us to quickly adjust the filter and block specific search terms, if we're alerted to problems.
Securly has not released their parent portal yet, but it will contain a number of valuable features for parents, many of which have been requested in the past. Parents will be able to see their child's browsing history and search terms, adjust the content filter for at-home use, set bedtime cutoffs, and even completely pause Internet access. Once Securly's parent portal is released, we will be setting up parent access based on the info provided during the Schoology account setup process.