Remote Web Filtering? What to Consider Before You Buy

Lightspeed Systems dashboard product shot on laptop screen

For virtual learning to happen, school IT teams need to get multi-OS, CIPA compliant, remote filtering in place on student devices. 

Before you make any final decisions about the best internet filter for your school, here are 10 things you need to be thinking about.

Relay Multi-OS graphic with windows, chrome and apple logosWorks Anytime, Anywhere, Any OS. With school districts across the nation scrambling to ensure all students get a device – many are forced to pull together a mix of all different types of devices. From iPads, to Chromebooks you need a web filtering solution that simplifies your management effort, not one that complicates it.  Lightspeed is a cloud-based filter that’s revolutionary Smart Agents work on Chromebooks, Mac, Windows, and iOS. This means all your filtering is covered, no hardware required, in a single, time-saving solution.  Lightspeed provides quick and easy scalability and support for ALL of your devices- anytime, anywhere.

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Shelter in place orders across the country, and social distancing mean kids are spending more time on devices than ever- especially as they begin digital learning.

Remote filtering needs to be more than simply blocking inappropriate content, but also protecting and ensuring student safety during this stressful and uncertain time. That’s why our web filtering solution includes Safety Check. Safety Check is the first solution to use web activity information to identify and address threats before they happen. It analyzes activity across online documents, emails, social media and every other site; analyzes visited websites, blocked websites, and searches; and more. Its advanced artificial intelligence offers powerful reporting as well as real-time alerts

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Are your teachers using video and chat tools that haven’t been vetted? With all of this digital learning happening at home and off the school network activity of users can be a black hole to district administrators- just when they need data more than ever.  Being able to fill this data hole will help dictate remote learning policies and demonstrate to school boards, parents and communities that funds and resources are being used effectively.

With Analytics, you’ll get the answers you need about remote learning use, activity, and effectiveness.  Spot “rogue” apps that may violate student data privacy, drive ROI;  see which apps are being used, or underused, or redundant or unnecessary licenses.

Relay Admin Reporting graphicKnowing who is online and when will be an important tool for remote learning. Our newly launched ‘Online Activity Dashboard” gives teachers and educators a single snapshot view into how active groups, classes or individual students are online. This allows teachers to quickly follow up with students that may be slipping between the cracks during distance learning.

YouTubeYouTube will be a valuable educational resource for your students in their digital learning journey. And our Smart Play feature solves the YouTube problem, once and for all. Video categorizations from YouTube and video uploaders are wildly inaccurate, so we’ve categorized nearly 100 million videos ourselves. With a simple click in your web filtering interface, you can allow only educational videos; and block sidebars and comments. Plus it’s easy to add your own district or teacher channels. Smart Play ensures a safe experience on as well as YouTube videos embedded on other sites.

Web filtering isn’t one-size-fits-all. Schools have different needs — just as groups and users within schools have different needs. And today with remote learning in place devices have been given to the youngest students- many of whom have never had an internet-connected device before.  Customizable controls are more important than ever for IT departments.

Our default web filtering policies are based on best practices we’ve developed over 20 years in business. However, Lightspeed also makes it easy to differentiate policies. You can build custom allow/block lists; custom categories; and policies tailored to users, age groups, schools — even location and time of day.  You’ll be able to restrict access to non-educational sites during school hours, and lift restrictions after hours.

Relay Database GraphicAn incomplete web filtering database results in more work for you and greater risk for your users. It may allow inappropriate content and block educational content, and you’ll have to manually categorize every website the database missed. Lightspeed’s Adaptive AI Database includes more than 65 million web sites and IPs. It leverages AI, machine learning, and the infinite cloud for the most accurate and comprehensive categorization of the Web. This means you save time not having to recategorize websites. This also means you can count on students staying safe and having access to valuable content.

You need insight into student search terms through your web filtering software. You also need to know which videos students watch. This requires SSL decryption, which has been a huge hassle for schools. It required banks of trusted man-in-the-middle proxy servers, PAC files, and trust certificates — until now. Our Smart Agents have a self-contained proxy engine. With Smart Agents, you don’t need to set up or manage anything. You also get the SSL decryption you need for policies and reporting across OSes.

Lightspeed Relay Safe Youtube Search GraphicKids will be utilizing social media tools more than ever before as they try to connect online with their friends. It’s imperative we continue to protect students from harmful online behavior. Lightspeed’s Social Media Controls let you block and allow social media sites in a few clicks in your web filtering solution. You can easily set different policies for teachers and students; elementary and high schools; and school hours and non-school hours. Plus you can set social media sites to read-only, so students can research but not post.

Relay Classroom Monitoring Graphic Smart Agents ensure 24/7 safety. They are installed on student devices, can’t be removed, and make filtering seamless as devices move from network to network. Also, you can easily adjust the web filtering policies for after-school hours, opening up access.

Lightspeed Systems is the result of 20 years of experience in K12 web filtering and offers the newest, most innovative technology. Thanks to our Smart Agents, every device is filtered, on and off campus.  It’s the best internet filter from the leaders in online safety.

Try it for yourself!