ContentKeeper: Keeping students safe online
ContentKeeper Web Filter Pro was designed and built for primary, secondary and higher educational organisations. It provides schools with a rich set of tools to safeguard the welfare of both its students and its staff.
“Students will always seek to push boundaries. This is an important part of learning and growing up, and is vital for personal development. Pushing boundaries online can be great for learning, but can also lead to very serious consequences when the wrong boundaries are deliberately or inadvertently exceeded,” explains David Wigley, CEO at ContentKeeper Technologies.
“The internet provides massive benefits for education. It facilitates access to unlimited amounts of information: the good, the bad and the very ugly. Filtering systems are vital, not only to keep students on track but also to protect them against harm. Whether its bullying, depression, suicide, weapons, gangs or paedophiles, the school has a duty to ensure that only age-appropriate material is accessible from school computers.”
ContentKeeper has been producing web filtering solutions since 1998. Its system incorporates a Behavioural Intent Alerting feature, which works by inspecting network traffic on its way to and from the internet. The local system administrator creates policies to protect users against access to undesirable sites, malware and other internet-based threats. When ContentKeeper detects such traffic, it will terminate the connection and display a web page to inform the user. It delivers real-time alerts to designated administrators via email or SMS so they can intervene where necessary. ContentKeeper also generates usage reports and issues alerts to inform staff of threats to student wellbeing and safety.
“Fast reporting allows timely action where required, and the contextual report provides the information necessary to distinguish innocuous curiosity from credible danger. The reported material and subsequent contact with the student that triggered the alert will allow teachers to decide the most appropriate intervention, whether that be the immediate contact of emergency services, or a mental health plan and counselling to help the student heal,” adds Mr Wigley.
“In at least one case reported to us, the Behavioural Intent Alerting tool has allowed staff to intervene and provide counselling for a student who was considering suicide. The contextual report made it easy for the staff to determine that urgent intervention was indeed required, so the impact of that is really beyond measure. Timely intervention can be the difference between life and death.”
School leaders can monitor what students type into search engines by setting up profiles that contain certain keywords, phrases or websites that are indicators of potentially harmful behaviour. Along with using ContentKeeper’s master keyword list, they can also add their own custom indicators too.
Speed, performance and an educational focus are among the features that Mr Wigley says set ContentKeeper apart from its competitors.
“Unlike other vendors in the market, ContentKeeper pioneered the development of its high speed, multi-gig, bridge-based filtering platform. This provides ContentKeeper with a massive advantage when it comes to speed, throughput, stability and the feature set it can offer in a cost-effective manner.”
He adds that the technology has also been designed to deliver value for money to schools. The higher performance of the bridge-based design means reduced hardware requirements and lower power bills, which can translate into significant cost savings.
Through ContentKeeper’s automated systems, definitions are kept current and accurate to ensure administrators can control access to different types of content with ease.
A range of highly targeted tools complement the core web filtering functionality, allowing fine-grained control and visibility of activity on sites like Facebook and YouTube. This facilitates the removal of particular site elements such as YouTube’s comments section, or the Farmville application on Facebook, without applying a blanket ban to these sites.
Mr Wigley says that the need for schools to monitor and control online activity among students – and intervene where necessary – is now more important than ever before. “In the past, schoolyard bullying was largely confined to the schoolyard, or the walk home if you were unlucky enough to share a postcode with your tormentor. Being connected 24/7 allows that behaviour to extend beyond school hours. Students using social media may be subjected to hurtful messages or other communications right up to the moment they fall asleep.”