Glenns Ferry School District in Idaho knows a lot about doing more with less. They have limited funding for new technology and a small IT staff, but recognize the benefits of technology: getting devices into students’ hands will let them easily take advantage of online curriculum, learn critical technology skills, and better reach Common Core goals.
A 1:1 program, new for the 2017-2018 school year, gives a Chromebook to each student in grades 2 through 12. It’s an exciting program for everyone across the district, but the devices themselves are just the first step. Andrew Moore, IT Director for Glenns Ferry, knew he needed a solution so those devices were safe and well-utilized. That’s where Lightspeed Filter™ came in.
The Challenge: Greater Visibility into Students' Online Activity
“We needed greater visibility and control of students’ web activity on the Chromebooks,” Andrew shares. “The current filter just wasn’t able to provide the details we needed, such as what the students were searching for exactly.”
After reviewing several filtering options for their Chromebooks, the Glenns Ferry School District selected Lightspeed Filter. “We needed a new way to filter online content that worked well with Chromebooks and this is where Lightspeed really stood out,” Andrew explained.
From YouTube controls to Google search reports to real-time alerts, Lightspeed Filter gives Andrew and the district all the tools it needs to keep device use safe and appropriate. Lightspeed Filter is a cloud-based solution for filtering, monitoring and reporting on any device and OS. Designed with an intuitive UI and time-saving controls, Lightspeed makes it easy for schools to optimize the safety and success of their mobile learning programs.
Once the decision was made, implementing Lightspeed at Glenns Ferry was fast and smooth – simply push out the extension via G Suite, and then easily customize any policies you want. Andrew agrees, “Lightspeed is simple to set up, it’s a one-time cost, and it just works!”
The Solution: Lightspeed Filter™ for Content Filtering
“I love its simplicity, the YouTube controls, the ability to whitelist channels and videos with ease, the fact that it’s in the cloud, and how well it filters,” Andrew explains
Google searches and image searches are often a challenge for schools, both in blocking inappropriate content and reporting on activity. Lightspeed Filter solves that, as Andrew shares: “Lightspeed does a much better job than other solutions at filtering Google text and image searches. I love the reports that detail exactly what terms students have searched. Lightspeed also filters out any inappropriate pictures in Google Image Search.”
Lightspeed Filter’s YouTube filtering feature, Smart Play, stands out as a game-changer to Andrew. While other YouTube filtering options can be restrictive or time- consuming, Smart Play makes it easy to allow educational YouTube channels (including teacher channels) while blocking the inappropriate content and time-wasters.
“We wanted to allow YouTube but only in a limited, controlled fashion. Smart Play has allowed us to give students access to YouTube in such a way that we feel confident they are safe from inappropriate content,” Andrew explains.
All the filtering policies in Lightspeed are great for ensuring student use of the web is protected and appropriate, but reports drive it all home, showing how devices are used and alerting administrators to any potential issues. Andrew regularly reviews reports (though he says the reliable filtering means he hasn’t had to step in and take action against inappropriate use).
“I frequently check Blocked Web Pages and the Search report. I use Google search report often and it has been one of the best features of Lightspeed Filter. It’s one thing to know a student was blocked, but for what reason? And what were they searching for? This provides useful information that can be passed on to teachers or administration,” Andrew reveals.
The Results: Easier Chromebook Filtering
Lightspeed is already helping the district improve its 1:1 program and do more – more easily and more quickly.
“Lightspeed Filter is making filtering Chromebooks so much easier. Lightspeed can dive deep into exactly what students are doing and the reports are more focused and meaningful. It saves time by filtering out the clutter that has plagued the reports in the past,” Andrew explains.
That simplicity is key to getting the job done when you’re juggling tasks in addition to the challenges that come with a small staff and limited resources.
“There are a lot of IT projects that need to be done during the day and there is very little time to monitor student activity,” Andrew shares. “Simple reporting and monitoring tools are essential if you want to work efficiently and be aware of online student activity.”
Many districts are adding Chromebooks and rolling out technology programs. Andrew’s advice to them: “If you are serious about the safety of students’ online activities, especially with Chromebooks, you can’t afford to cut corners. Lightspeed Filter is a great tool for monitoring and reporting on Chromebook use. It’s simple, sleek and works well!”