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What is Content Filtering in Education? The Ultimate Guide

Updated: May 23

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Content Filtering has become an increasingly important tool for K12 schools, universities, and other educational institutions. It is used to monitor and control the content that students and staff can access online, helping to protect them from inappropriate and distracting content, phishing attacks, malware, and more.


In this ultimate guide, we’ll look at the What, Why, How, and Cost of Content Filtering in Education so you can make an informed decision when choosing a suitable content-filtering solution for your school.


Table of Content

What is Content Filtering?

Benefits of Content Filtering in Education

Understanding the Different Levels of Protection

Understanding the Cost of Content Filtering Solutions

Deployment Forms of Educational Content Filtering Solutions

Choosing the Right Content Filtering Solution for Your School

Implementing a Content Filtering Solution in Schools

Conclusion


What is Content Filtering?


Content Filtering, also known as Web Filtering, is a system that restricts access to online content. It works by using a set of rules, which are typically set by the institution, to block access to certain types of content.


By allowing access to the Internet, educational institutions, under regulations like CIPA, FERPA and COPPA, need to protect the privacy of students and ensure they are safe from inappropriate content and cyber threats. This counts for the EdTech tools they use in their district as well. Schools also have to ensure that students use their time wisely and focus on their studies rather than wasting time on websites that are not educational in nature.


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Content filters are used to block access to distracting websites and services, such as social media and gaming sites, as well as types of content that may be inappropriate, such as pornography and violence. They can also be used to block access to certain types of files, such as executable files, which can be used to spread malware.


This is crucial in today's K12 educational landscape as more schools implement the use of Chromebooks, Laptops, and iPads in their classrooms. Research shows that digital distractions obstruct effective online instruction, and it can take up to 30 minutes for students to refocus after being distracted by technology use.


Content filtering can also be used to monitor and record student activity online, allowing the institution to track which websites they are visiting, as well as how long they are spending on them. This can help the institution identify any potential problems, such as cyberbullying or other types of online abuse, as well as provide a basis for data-driven instruction.

Deledao Teacher Guide: Data Driven Instruction Infographic

Benefits of Content Filtering in Education


Content filtering can provide numerous benefits to educational institutions. Here are some of the key benefits:


  • Increased safety for students and staff. By blocking inappropriate or malicious content, content filtering can help protect students and staff from cyber threats and other online dangers.

  • Increased productivity. By reducing access to websites that are not educational in nature, school districts can ensure that students and staff are spending their time wisely and focusing on their studies.

  • Improved compliance. By monitoring and recording student activity online, institutions are complying with all relevant laws and regulations regarding online safety.

  • Reduced liability. By removing certain types of content, content filtering can reduce the institution’s liability in the event of a cyber-attack or other online threat.

  • Reduced off-task attempts. By blocking distracting content, content filters allow students to better focus on the instruction material and move towards a path of self-regulation.


With Deledao's Real-Time AI Content Filtering, the trend of reducing off-task attempts can be noticed from the first month of product integration.

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Understanding the Different Levels of Protection


When choosing a content filtering solution for your institution, it’s important to understand the different levels of protection that are available. Here are the 2 main levels of protection:


  • Legacy Domain-Based Categorization:

    • This method blocks access to certain websites based on pre-assigned categories.

    • For example, it can prevent access to websites that contain pornography, violence, or other inappropriate content.

    • The system uses a list of known websites in these categories and blocks them automatically.

    • The granularity of this method is at the domain level, meaning it blocks entire websites rather than specific content within a site.

    • It doesn't work well on sites like YouTube, where inappropriate content might be mixed with educational content on the same domain.


  • Patented Real-Time AI Analysis:

    • This advanced method uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to monitor and filter content continuously.

    • Instead of relying on a list of blocked websites, it examines the actual content being accessed in real-time.

    • The AI system can recognize and block inappropriate material as it appears, even if it’s on a new or previously unknown site.

    • Over time, the AI learns and adapts, improving its ability to detect and block harmful content.

    • This method offers proactive protection, meaning it can anticipate and block new threats before they become a problem.

    • It helps ensure student safety by keeping up with the constantly changing landscape of online content.


Understanding the Cost of Content Filtering Solutions


The cost of content filtering solutions can vary significantly, depending on the type of solution, the level of protection, and the size of the institution. Generally speaking:


  • Software-based (including cloud-based) solutions are cheaper.

  • Appliance-based solutions are more expensive due to the cost of the appliance itself.


It’s also important to consider the ongoing costs associated with content filtering solutions, such as maintenance, upgrades, and support. Additionally, some solutions may require a subscription fee, which can add to the overall cost of the solution.


Deployment of Educational Content Filtering Solutions


There are various types of deployments for education content filtering solutions. Here are some of the most popular ones:


  • Agent-based: This involves installing software directly on each student and staff device. It's scalable and can be used both on and off campus, but it's tricky to manage for personal devices that students bring from home, also called BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) devices.

  • On-site appliance: This method uses a device installed in the school's network to filter content for all connected devices, including personal ones brought by students. It covers everyone automatically but can be hard to expand if the school grows. It also only works off-campus if all internet traffic is routed back through the school, which can be cumbersome.

  • Cloud proxy: This approach doesn't require any hardware at the school. It filters content online, making it effective both on and off campus, but it might introduce additional latency in browsing. It's easy to scale up as the school grows.

  • Hybrid: This combines aspects of the above methods to offer a balance of flexibility and control.


Deledao offers hybrid deployment methods, and it uses artificial intelligence to monitor, block, and blur inappropriate content in real-time.



Choosing the Right Content Filtering Solution for Your School


When choosing a content filtering solution for your institution, it’s important to consider a number of factors. Here are five to consider:


  1. Level of Protection. It’s important to choose a solution that provides the appropriate level of protection for your institution.

  2. Cost. It’s important to choose a solution that fits within your budget.

  3. Scalability. It’s important to choose a solution that can scale as your institution grows.

  4. Ease of Use. It’s important to choose a solution that is easy to use and understand.

  5. Support. It’s important to choose a solution that provides the necessary support and training.

Deledao 5 Factors to Consider When Purchasing Content Filters


Implementing a Content Filtering Solution in Schools


Once you have chosen the right content filtering solution for your institution, make sure that it is properly implemented. Here are some key steps to take when implementing a content-filtering solution:


  • Review the content filtering policy. Take your time to check the content filtering policy to ensure that it is effective and up-to-date.

  • Train staff and students. Make sure that your school's staff is properly trained on the content filtering solution so they understand how to use it properly and show it to their students. Find out if the content filter solution offers free live training, pre-recorded training, and knowledge-base articles to support your school staff in using the product.

  • Monitor activity. Daily monitoring of student activity is crucial to ensure that the content filtering solution is working as intended.

  • Review and update. Every month, review and update the content filtering policy to ensure that it is effective and up-to-date.


Conclusion


Nowadays, Content Filtering is a crucial tool for educational institutions, as it ensures that students are safe from inappropriate content and cyber threats.


Choosing the right solution for your district is not simple, and that's why you should take the time to assess your priorities and requirements. A good solution is able to face the modern challenges of today's Internet at a reasonable price, while allowing your school district to have your required level of protection and support.


If you’re looking for a content filtering solution for your school, consider Deledao, powered by real-time AI. Schedule a free demo today to learn more!



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