As technology grows in every area of the public education market–from the computer lab to the classroom, from kindergarten to high school–new concerns appear virtually every day. Schools used to combat their fears of privacy and outright misuse by imposing strict regulations on the software that powered the tech. Largely, this meant that early on, a school computer for browsing the web was practically worthless due to the severe web filters many systems relied on.
One of the chief factors in releasing some of those strict web filters has been the widely popular Bring Your Own Device initiative. Without the ability to have as much control over what students did with their own tech–other than requiring students to sign a pledge to behave and putting filters on the entire wifi network, meaning the teachers were blocked out, too–schools have largely loosened some of their previous restrictions on internet use.
A school system in Illinois is offering a different kind of security, though. As one of the many systems who’s decided to control the tech use by purchasing laptops and issuing them to students for school and home use, Marion Community School District Number 2 will allow parents to set the extremity of the web filter, with a spectrum ranging from basically no filter all the way to you won’t even see a Wikipedia entry on breast cancer, let alone an actual breast.
While this might sound a little humorous, the very first change is in price. The software, provided by California-based Securly, Inc., is a far more cost effective measure than the school’s previous software and web provider contract. More importantly, the previous web filter was one-size-fits-all, meaning every student from age 5 to 18+ had exactly the same restrictions.
But this software comes with a built-in safety net for one of the most aggressive issues facing teens today: cyberbullying. It has keyword alerts for bullying terms, self-harm terms, and more. The notification of terms that trigger the system will go to either a school administrator or the parent, depending on where the activity was conducted.