Keeping Students Safe Online

Keeping Students Safe Online
Posted on 09/25/2019
Online FilteringSeaman School District is in its fourth year of 1:1 MacBook deployment for grades 7-12, and a districtwide initiative of incorporating blended learning (student learning via electronic and online media as well as traditional teaching) in all of our buildings. The district is committed to providing the safest possible experience for students who are learning to navigate the boundless mountain of information available on the internet in a 21st century learning environment.

Under the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), school districts are responsible for implementing technology measures or internet filters to restrict access to sites that are “harmful to minors.” CIPA requires three elements for compliance: 1.) content filtering to prevent access to obscene, pornographic, or harmful images; 2.) monitoring of online activities of minors; and 3.) education in appropriate online behavior and cyberbullying awareness.

The district currently filters all devices using the school’s internet and will soon add content filtering to all school-issued devices, even when they’re used off-campus. This means when a student is at home using their school MacBook, they will have the same filtering used at school. The content filter checks sites against a massive cloud hosted dynamic database of URLs, IP addresses and websites, while also enforcing safe search on all search engines. Real-time web activity monitors generate usage data that helps us customize our filtering strategies and enforce new rules where necessary.

“New sites pop up daily and we’re continuously updating our content filtering to find the right balance between safety and access to the rich educational materials that will support all academic and curriculum endeavors,” said Jeff Mathes, Director of Technology. “There is a vast amount of resources online, but not all of it is appropriate for students.”

In addition to content filtering, the district covers online safety with students using digital citizenship curriculum. “We want our students to understand what safe internet access and behavior looks like,” said Megan Nussbaum, Director of Innovation.“Something that parents and educators should know is that we can’t block every piece of unwanted material,” Nussbaum says. “Technology only takes us so far. This is why education on internet safety is so important right now. Many of our students access the unfiltered web on their own smart phone. We have to educate our students as they learn safe internet practices in an increasingly mobile device-focused world.”

The district uses Common Sense Education’s award winning digital citizenship curriculum to instruct our K-12 students on the digital citizenship knowledge they need to make smart choices online and in life. Designed and developed in partnership with Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and guided by research with thousands of educators, each digital citizenship lesson takes on real challenges and digital dilemmas that students face today, giving them the skills they need to succeed as digital learners, leaders, and citizens tomorrow.

Parents should continue to monitor students device usage and contact the USD 345 Technology Department with any sites that require further evaluation. USD 345 is committed to keeping students safe, both online and offline.

The district blocks various categories of content for students including, but not limited to, the following examples:

• Adult Content
• Alcohol / Drugs
• Movie/Music Sites
• Gambling
• Games
• Social Networking
• Hacking
• Unlawful Activities

Please contact the USD 345 Technology Department with any sites that require further evaluation.

Jeff Mathes
Director of Technology
jmathes@usd345.com
785-286-8483