Google Chromebooks continue to dominate one-to-one digital learning in K-12 thanks to their low cost, ease of use, and collaborative abilities. With a lot of schools already using Google’s Classroom suite, Chromebooks are a natural fit for students.
But while they offer many advantages, Chromebooks lack one equally important component: built-in content filtering and management software. And since advanced content filtering and device management are essential to ensuring student safety and maximizing ROI on your devices, K-12 schools must select a third-party monitoring tool to filter content on student Chromebooks.
But which filtering solution is the right one? What features are non-negotiable? Let’s start by looking at why effective, easy-to-implement content filters are so important to K-12 education in the first place.
Why is filtering and management software essential for K-12 schools?
The experiences of widespread remote learning highlighted the importance of safe and secure devices for K-12 learning. Teachers and students need access to valuable online educational resources and often need reliable online resources simply to communicate with each other. Educators and administrators, meanwhile, need to know that students can’t access dangerous or inappropriate content, that student privacy is protected, and that devices support and enhance a school’s educational goals.
Content filtering is a fundamental first step in ensuring that inappropriate online content is blocked from student devices. Chromebook web filtering is also required for K-12 schools to achieve CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) compliance necessary for E-Rate funding. An effective filter will be able to identify and let through educational content on the internet and on popular platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, while shielding students from inappropriate videos, pictures, and web articles.
A good content filtering solution supports all these objectives by monitoring and helping IT teams manage the vast amounts of data processed by hundreds or thousands of student devices each day.
As you look for the best Chromebook filtering and monitoring solution, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of available options. These eight questions can help you determine the best choice for your school or district.
8 questions to ask when choosing a Chromebook filter for your district
1. Does it have free, 24/7 tech support?
The Chromebook filtering solution you select should come with phone, email, and online chat tech support, all backed by data scientists and database experts. Because filtering and classroom management is an essential service to keep school devices safe and secure, you need dependable, knowledgeable support that your district can depend upon, no matter the day or time.
2. Does it offer free guest network and BYOD filtering?
New devices will enter your school network often, and they need to be protected by the same safeguards, policies, and filters that cover preexisting devices. That way, your entire network remains CIPA-compliant.
3. Does your Chromebook filter provider offer free maintenance, updates, and database improvements?
Make sure your solution is backed by a team who listens to customers and regularly implements updates to make filtering and content management even more effective.
4. Does it have free single sign-on through Azure and Google?
To fit your group’s management needs, your Chromebook filter should make integrating different software systems quick and easy.
5. How powerful is its URL database?
A strong URL database is critical to ongoing safety and preserving IT’s time resources. How many websites does the web categorization database process every day? For instance, Lightspeed’s filtering solutions process about 2 million new URLs a day.
6. Is your Chromebook monitoring solution also a detective service?
It’s inevitable: student devices go missing all the time. Those losses cut into your school’s budget, your IT staff’s time, and your student and staff’s productivity. The Chromebook management software you choose for your school should have device geolocation so you can find and retrieve missing Chromebooks; your monitoring solution can also help schools easily keep track of how many Chromebooks are in circulation, who has them, and which might need repairs.
7. Does it provide comprehensive usage analytics and reports?
Educational stakeholders aren’t just in the classroom or school building. Parents and district administrators, in addition to teachers and IT staff, can benefit greatly from actionable insights and real-time reporting about how Chromebooks are being utilized by students. Advanced analytics can also help budgeting efforts by identifying redundant or underutilized apps and programs.
8. Does it include powerful, easy-to-use classroom tools for teachers?
Even the most robust content filtering system won’t be effective if teachers and administrators aren’t able to easily use it. Teachers need technology to monitor student device screens, share content, and lock devices during class, but they also need to be able to integrate solutions into the Google tools they’re already using. Does your solution’s Chromebook classroom management tool accomplish this to satisfy all your stakeholders and support all elements of K-12 learning?
Lightspeed Systems® management software for Chromebook
These eight critical elements for successful Chromebook device management and web filtering are a fundamental part of Lightspeed Systems solutions for Google Chrome.
Lightspeed Filter™ is a safe, reliable, and scalable Chromebook solution built specifically for K-12. It’s compatible with the entire Google Workspace for seamless integration across your online instructional programs. Crucially for remote learners, these functions work whether students are on campus or at home.
And our integrated suite of products gives districts the tools they need to protect students and ensure the quality of their learning. Lightspeed Alert™ aides in the prevention of self-harm, school violence, and suicide. Teachers can keep students engaged from anywhere, customize web rules, link share, and more with Lightspeed Classroom Management™. Lightspeed Analytics™ gives districts visibility into Google Workspace activity and other platforms so you can make informed decisions to drive app adoption, maintain data security, and increase the ROI of resources.