Safety: Web Searches & Filtering
Coppell ISD recognizes that with increased access to mobile devices, the conversation about online safety needs to be a priority in the minds of parents, learners, and educators.
There are 3.64 billion indexed pages on the world wide web. More than 2 billion people use the internet, and 70% of those people use it everyday (more interesting stats). In the 21st Century, it is essential that students are equipped with the skills to navigate this vast access to information. Coppell ISD is committed to emphasizing and teaching responsible online use. Every year, a significant amount of time is dedicated to training educators and learners about safe and appropriate use of the internet. Our educators teach digital citizenship and help learners safely and effectively navigate the world wide web.
Navigating the World Wide Web
Each year, every year, educators talk to learners about the CISD Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and digital citizenship. All learners sign an AUP acknowledgement form. AUP and Digital citizenship focuses on the importance of good character on and offline, responsibility, security and protecting your identity, copyright laws, and safely conducting effective web searches. These are the essential rules that protect learners.
Beyond AUP, our campus librarians and iTeam (Technology Instructional Coaches) members work alongside our classroom educators to help learners navigate the plethora of information the world wide web has to offer. CISD learners’ interaction with technology goes far beyond Google searches. Our young learners are guided on specific searches rather than rely on generic searches on Google. The district has invested in academic databases like Gale, Destiny and Safari Montage to provide learners access to rich, high-quality information. Learners from grades 2-12 are taught how to recognize reliable sources and utilize academic databases.
Lesson Examples: Learning How to Determine Reliable Sources
Secondary level: Learners are directed to http://www.martinlutherking.org/. At first glance the site might look reputable and the url seems appropriate, but as the Librarian guides learners to ask questions (such the timeliness of the info; is the content at an appropriate level; who is the author/sponsor; does the language/tone seem unbiased; what is the purpose of the website) learners discover the site might not be all that it seems. Elementary level: Learners are directed to visit http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/ and read about the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. The site has photos, videos, lots of information and even a store, but is the Tree Octopus real? Librarians help learners ask key questions to figure it out.
In accordance with the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), all computers and devices that utilize the CISD network are filtered by a centralized filtering appliance. The filter screens out categories, determined by CISD staff and federal law, to be inappropriate. (What is considered inappropriate for minors at the legal level is handled by authorities such as the CIPA, FCC and the Texas Education Agency. Note that specifically, the FCC found that social network websites (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) do not fall into one of the categories that must be blocked.) Categories CISD blocks include: Child Abuse Content, Proxy/Filter Avoidance, Illegal Activities and Downloads, Gambling, Hacking, and Pornography.
Internet filters are a deterrent to accessing inappropriate material. No filtering system is hack-proof nor can it catch 100% of inappropriate material. As learners grow into adults, they will be faced with non-filtered access to all types of content. Learners need to practice the skills of 1) conducting smart searches and 2) handling accidental access of inappropriate material. In Coppell ISD, if a learner encounters inappropriate material at school, they are taught to immediately notify their teacher who will direct the student to leave the site. The instructor will then report the information (in writing) to technology and campus administration. Technology will review the report and forward that information to the filtering provider to consider that site be re-categorized into a blocked category.
It is important to recognize that when learners are accessing the internet at school, there are adults and other learners in close proximity monitoring their activities. When it comes to accessing questionable material, kids tend to do that in private. This means good, safe online behavior begins in the home and then reinforced at school.
Tips for Parents…
- Pay attention to when you children are accessing the internet, where they are going, and what they are doing there.
- Many children (or their friends) have phones, iPods and other mobile devices that give them access to the internet unfiltered. Have conversations with your children about what to do when they come across questionable material. It is never too soon to start having these conversations.
- Set parameters for internet use. Suggestions include:
- restricting internet after 10pm
- only allowing internet usage in community areas in the home
- talk to the parents of your children’s friends to know the internet rules/allowances for their family
- Put a filter on your home wifi such as Net Nanny, K9, Save Squid, Dans Guardian, and Open DNS. Remember, a filter is just a deterrent, children also need to be taught how to be smart online.
- Ask your children about what sites they are visiting for school and how they know they are reliable.
- For more parenting tips visit watch “Parents Need Rules, Too”
Throughout the year, Coppell ISD will continue the ongoing conversation about digital responsibility and safety. Topics will include: cyberbullying, time management, social networking, and protecting your online identity. Join our conversation and have these conversations with your family and friends.