• Content Filtering Philosophies

    Content Filtering has become a fairly common practice in K-12 education. There are a variety of filtering devices to choose from, some better than others, but I'll save that for another discussion .

    There are a variety of content filtering philosophies out there, ranging from don't block anything (just log traffic and deal with the offenders that visit sites they know they should not) to block almost everything and white list as needed.

    There is no perfect solution, what I will discuss is our stance on content filtering.

    Many years ago we had no content filtering, we simply logged traffic and dealt with offenders. As the internet evolved, we realized there was too much potential for students to see highly inappropriate content even from a potentially innocent search. As did many school divisions, we blocked Facebook, Youtube etc... but quickly found that this approach created problems as well.

    Problem #1: Sites such as Youtube have both appropriate and inappropriate content.
    Problem #2: Once you get past the worst of the web, many sites that are potentially appropriate (ex: sites talking about breast cancer) can be blocked if rules are too strict. White-listing all of these sites can be very time consuming and tedious.

    Beyond how and what you're filtering, there is another growing trend that undermines all content filtering in your school division. That trend is 3G / 4G enabled student owned devices, whether we're talking about smart phones or iPads. Student owned devices are becoming more and more prevalent and there is simply no effective way filter devices you don't control on a network you don't control. Besides that fact, when the students leave school, they can search for whatever they want.

    This lead us to our current filtering philosophy: Block the sites you know people shouldn't be visiting under any circumstances and teach your students how to be responsible digital citizens. The current generation is plugged-in almost 24/7 and one of the most effective ways to keep them safe is to teach them how to be safe on their own.

    I'd love to hear your views on the subject. Please post your comments in the corresponding forum thread to this article located here:


    Ernest A.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Content Filtering Philosophies started by ErnestA View original post
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