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Student Technology Trends, Web Filtering and Online Safety

Today's youth are digital natives, immersed in a world of constant contact, immediate information, and potential pitfalls that accompany technology. Knowing the current trends and practices of your children's online activity is imperative to assisting your child to stay safe online. Understanding responsible use and consequential actions based on digital decisions is a challenge that requires guidance. As a district, we want to help provide you links to highly informative resources, links to articles about current youth tech trends, and an understanding of what we put in place as a district to help provide a safe technology environment.

Student Use of District Information Technology

The Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook outlines the board-approved policies related to Student Use of District Information Technology. You can view the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook (2013-14) here. Please view Policy JICJ (beginning on page 28) Student Use of District Information Technology, JICJ-R Student Use of District Information Technology, and JIHA Student Possession and Use Of Portable Electronic Devices (including Cellular Phones). 

District Network Web Content Filtering

All website traffic on the district network, including both wired and wireless access, passes through an enterprise-level content filtering system. The content filter uses both a centralized database of websites maintained by the content filter vendor, and a locally-managed blocked site list. The vendor database covers millions of sites and is updated in real-time; sites are typically categorized and blocked/allowed based on how the filter's automatic algorithms detect the content of a site. In addition, when questionable web content is accessed and reported (via a Web Help Desk ticket or phone call from district staff), IT staff initially block the site and resubmit the URL of the site for recategorization by our vendor. These requests are human reviewed by the vendor, then added to their URL database accordingly, and a notification is provided to DCSD staff when the recategorization request is complete. 

In addition, our filter enforces Google, Bing and Yahoo search engine traffic to use Safe Search functionality, including image searching. Browser visits to search engines on the district network will have the search engine preference for safe-searching defaulted to ON. When users attempt to disable the preference in an attempt to circumvent the option, the filter will automatically enable the preference back to ON. This allows an extra layer of enforcement to prevent adult and explicit content from being searched on these search engines. When questionable content is encountered (which does occasionally occur due to the challenges of filtering and automatic identification of images), our expectation is that a teachable moment has occured during which an educator can express the importance of reporting inappropriate content encounters.

As no web filter is 100% accurate, we rely on the responsiveness of our staff and students to report access to questionable content, as well as adherence to the expectations set forth in the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook.

Google SafeSearch Objectionable Content Reporting Tool