Managing District Web Filters in your Classroom

As more of our daily instruction relies on web-based resources in a remote setting, it is important that teachers understand how student web-filters work and how to effectively manage web filters as part of your daily instruction with students.

Since its passage in 1998, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) requires that any school district or educational organization receiving federal funds must ensure that student web browsing is control via a content filter. In SUSD, we use one of the most commonly used systems in K-12 education, a program called GoGuardian.

While the GoGuardian system is effective in filtering out a wide variety of potentially objectional material, it is not a perfect system as it relies on a complex algorithm to determine what sites should be made available and which sites should be blocked. This means that sometimes sites which teachers might feel SHOULD be available to students could potentially be blocked.

For this reason, it is important that whenever you are planning to have your students visit a brand new instructional site, teachers should take the following steps to make sure that the content is available.

  • When visiting sites logged in to your SUSD Chrome Browser it is important to remember that the same filtering restrictions applied to STUDENT devices also apply to your teacher SUSD profile. This allows you to quickly identify if a site is potentially blocked for your students while you are preparing your lesson.
  • It is easy to identify if a site is blocked for students as you should get the following error message on your screen when attempting to connect to the website.
  • Teachers can easily get around this filter by simply opening up the website in Firefox or another, non-Chrome web browser (GoGuardian filters only work in Google Chrome).
  • If you have identified an instructional website which you would like your students to have access to, simply submit a request to http://helpdesk.susd12.org and the site will be opened for you within 24 hours.

Submitting your requests to open web resources not only supports your instruction but it also helps to make our district filter better. Each time we add an exception to the filtering algorithm, the system gets better at its default classification of appropriate and inappropriate websites.