The Power Of Positive Web Filtering
Since June we have been using the Securly web filtering solution. It is a truly cloud based solution with no on-premise equipment and very tight integration with Google Apps for Education. I’m told LDAP integration is coming soon but for us, that hasn’t been a deal breaker since most of our users are on Mac or ChromeOS. With IP based policies being rolled into the UI and a basically infinite ability to scale to meet our future bandwidth needs, Securly is a solution that continues to evolve right along with us.
In comparing Securly to the major web filtering players in the education space, I think it is fair to say that they have a different philosophy about web filtering than most. In the screen shot above, which I freaking love by the way, you can see stats for student web access. Not blocked pages, which they have a view for too, but sites kids are actually using. In our case, as we begin having discussions about wether Newsela is a service we want to pursue as a district standard, we now have compelling data telling us that it’s already being widely used and is in fact our most accessed web site on a weekly basis. The above dashboard is a very simple thumbs up view versus a thumbs down view of our district’s web activity but it goes to the heart of what Securly is about. Providing a web filtering solution for education. This is a relatively recent update to the UI (one that I hope finds it’s way over to the audit trail reports sooner rather than later).
As I’ve said before, I have yet to meet a web filter that did everything I wanted it to do and did it easy. OpenDNS and Untangle still hold a sentimental place for me but Securly is fast becoming the easiest, most classroom friendly web filter I’ve ever used. Particularly in GAFEland. It’s not perfect*, but whenever we start discussing other options, we keep coming back to the simple administration, tight Google Apps integration and no on-prem box features that set Securly apart.
I always looked down at web filtering as something that we had to do to be CIPA compliant in schools even if it hampered the learning process in classrooms. Lets be honest and admit that web filtering in the past was all about compliance and limitations and never worked well for the classroom teacher, no matter how hard we tried. With the rise of devices, web filters that over block and don’t allow for teacher judgement have become major impediments to learning. I always believed, and still firmly do, that educating kids (and teachers too) about proper internet etiquette, search and effective use of the web was more powerful than any filter could ever be, but thanks to Securly, I now see a positive use for the (mandatory) web filter that I never did before.
Full disclosure. I’m a fan and Securly didn’t pay me to say so.
*FYI – We can now set Force Login to Google Apps per IP Policy. Yay!