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Sunday
Jan292012

1:1 iPad Web Filtering @home

A few weeks ago we finally made the step of sending the iPads and MacBook Airs home with students, and truly launched our 1:1 research project. From our other very limited iPod touch deployments we knew that teachers and parents would be concerned with their students having unfiltered wifi access outside of school. Legally, we have no obligation to provide web filtering at home (CIPA requires filtering of devices/networks paid using federal money and these are not) however, our repsonsibility as educators go well beyond legal requirements and it's important to us that our parents are comfortable with the devices being used at home.

On a laptop you can set things such things like proxies, VPN tunnels, etc. but on an iPad its impossible to force these requirements on the end user. The only choice we had with the iPad was a parent education campaign. At the parent night meetings launching the 1:1 pilots we talked about our district filtering solution, and informed parents that they could use the same system we use at school at home for free.

A couple years ago we switched to OpenDNS for internet filtering and it has been on of the best decisions we've made. I want go into all the details but we went from WedSense, to Lightspeed, and finally switched to OpenDNS. OpenDNS offers a really easy inexpensive and easy to implement solution.

At our parent night meetings we talked about internet filtering and suggested all of our parents use OpenDNS at home. Parents have been genuinely thankful for the information, and we've not had any issues with inappropriate use at home. (UPDATE: Download an OpenDNS at home flyer to hand out to your parents here.)

Additionally, we altered our Internet acceptable use policy to define clearing the web history as inappropriate use. Students and parents were informed that the District Technology department would be doing random checks of web history.

A combination of Parent Education and Policy has proved an easy and effective solution to ensure our students are safe online at home. It didn't cost anything, and was simple to implement. If only everything was that easy.

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