With such wide-ranging news emerging from the media about the safety and security of Internet use, we thought you might like to know what the Robert Smyth Academy is doing to promote appropriate use.
A filtering facility is provided by our ISP (Internet Service Provider). This filtering is generic, and is applied to every Internet-ready workstation in the school. In addition, we are also able to apply more specific filtering ourselves once we know the generic levels have been breached. Filtering will prevent the majority of users from being accidentally exposed to unsuitable material, but it will not prevent those who actively seek to bypass it from doing so.
All networked machines are monitored from a central location on a regular basis. This allows us to view what a user is doing. Internet use is also logged separately, maintaining a record of sites visited and by whom. If we encounter anyone using the Internet for unsuitable purposes, we are able to shut down their workstation, deny access to the network, and initiate the sanctions procedures.
Our Impero software is proving to be extremely popular with teaching staff, as they are now able to control all monitoring and disabling functions in their own area – such as banning specific websites or completely denying Internet access when they choose to do so, and also having a list of keywords to highlight violations of computer use. In this way, teachers are able to watch the computer use of an entire class without leaving their desk. They are also able to take immediate action in order to put students back ‘on task’.
All users are aware of the sanctions procedures. There are various levels, from denying access to the Internet, to denying access to the network itself.
We believe that, by applying our own monitoring and logging, in addition to the filtering, we are doing all that we can to make Internet use safe and secure, whilst accepting that users must also be responsible for the way they use the facility. The sanctions are then in place as a buffer for those who choose not to use the Internet in a responsible way. We believe these practices encourage and ultimately engender better and more appropriate use of the facility.