Content Filtering Overview

This article is for IT support. 

School Manager’s content filter is very powerful and flexible. It allows you control over what content and applications are allowed or blocked at your school. When School Manager is first deployed at your school, Linewize will set up some default filtering policies (also called "rules") to ensure you have a base level of filtering.

School Manager allows you to create four types of Content Filtering Policies. 

Rule Description Primary Use Override Using Classwize
Locked Blocked The content is Blocked and can’t be accessed, even if another Rule is set to Allow. You cannot override this by using a bypass code, classroom rule or reward. Prevent access to content that is completely unacceptable at your school, such as pornography or violence. No
Locked Allowed The content is Allowed and can always be accessed, even if another rule is set to Block. Prevent users from accidentally blocking your networking infrastructure and required internet Themes, Categories or Signatures. No
Blocked This content can’t be accessed unless another higher-priority rule is set to Allow. You can override this by using a bypass code, classroom rule, or reward to access. Prevent users from accessing generally unacceptable content at your school without teacher supervision, such as games or social media. Yes
Allowed This content can be accessed unless another, higher-priority rule is set to Block. Create exceptions to block rules. Yes

Locked rules cannot overridden by Bypass codes issued by teachers in Classwize.

Managing Rules

You can prioritize what is allowed and blocked by ordering your policies. You can also apply Themes, Categories and Signatures to filter these websites and apps in the future.

 

Content Filtering Policy Examples

This table is an example of Content Filtering Policies you might create for your school. Your Linewize Service Delivery Engineer will assist you with customising types of rules during a Deployment.

Important

If your school has a physical appliance, we recommend your Allow - Infrastructure - All policy is always enabled to prevent the school's networking infrastructure from getting blocked. Be sure to update the Object Pool with the identity of the new infrastructure when you make changes to your environment.

Action Recommended Policy Name Categories or Object Pools Purpose
Allow - Locked Allow - Infrastructure - All Servers and other networking devices (create an Infrastructure Object Pool Ensures that your school’s key infrastructure can’t be blocked by accident.
Block - Locked Block - Adult Content - All Adult and Pornography
Illegal Adult Content
Adult Mixed Content
Stop everyone from accessing sexually explicit content.
Block - Locked Block - Proxies & VPN's - All Proxies and VPNs Stop everyone from using tools that circumvent filtering.
Block - Locked Block - Malware - All Malware Stop everyone from accessing sites that are known to be malicious.
Block - Locked Block - Web File Sharing - All Web File Sharing Stop everyone from using file-sharing sites that may host adult or copyright-infringing content.
Block - Locked Block - Peer-to-Peer - All Peer-to-peer Stop peer-to-peer file-sharing and torrenting on your school network.
Block - Locked Block - Dating - All Dating Stop everyone from accessing online dating services and apps.
Block Block - Offensive - All Offensive Stop everyone from accessing content with a high risk of being intended for adults or a mature audience, but allow teachers to grant access to specific sites if necessary.
Block Block - Social Media - All Social Media Stop everyone from accessing social media sites and apps during school time, but allow teachers to grant access to specific social networks as a reward.
Allow Allow - YouTube & App Stores - All YouTube
iTunes
Google Play
Allow access to YouTube by default, but let teachers disable access in their classes. Allow students and teachers to install and update phone and tablet apps.
Block Block - Entertainment - All Entertainment Stop students from accessing distracting sites in-class time.
Block Block - Gaming - All Gaming Stop students from playing online games during school hours, but allow teachers to give access to games as a reward or when they’re being used for teaching (e.g. Kerbal Space Program or Minecraft Education Edition).
Block Block - Unsafe Search Engines - All Other Search Engines Stop students from using search engines that don’t have a safe mode.

  

If your school uses Classwize to manage your online classrooms, see how Content filtering rules interact with Classwize.

 

Content Filtering Troubleshooting 

Students can’t access a website that their teacher has unblocked using Classwize

There are a couple of reasons why this can happen:

  • The teacher using Classwize may have created conflicting Class Rules in their class.
    Teachers can currently create Class Rules that conflict with each other. If they clear their Class Rules and the student still can’t access the site, the rule may be Locked Blocked.
  • The rule may be Locked Blocked.
    Students won’t be able to access a website that is Locked Blocked even if their teacher creates a rule to unblock it. Teachers currently can’t see if something they are trying to unblock is Locked, but they can test this by using a Bypass Code to try to access the blocked site. IT support can find existing rules using Category Search on the Content Filtering page. Enter a domain name to see the Theme, Category, or Signature and any of your existing Policies blocking or allowing access to the website.

If the site does belong to a Locked Theme, Category, or Signature and you need to unblock it without unblocking the rest of the Themes, Categories, or Signatures, you can use a Locked Allow rule to create an exception just for that site.

Important

If a locked rule is intended for a specific group, it cannot be unlocked in Classwize for other groups. Once a rule is placed in the locked section, it cannot be overridden in Classwize, even if it only applies to a specific group of users.

A website is still blocked even though I have set up a Policy to allow it

This can be caused by your rule ordering. Content Filtering Policies are applied from top to bottom of the list on the Content Filtering page. The first rule applies where there is a conflict, even if another rule is below it, to allow access.

For example, if you are trying to block Games but only allow Minecraft, you must order the Allow Minecraft Policy before the Block Policy.

  • Allow - Minecraft - All
  • Block - Gaming - All

For more information, read Filtering Using Categories and Signatures.

Can I block something from one group of users but not another?

Yes, you can apply rules to specific groups of users and not others. The best way to do this is to make a group with the users you want to block.

  1. Navigate to Configuration > Users and Groups > Groups.
  2. Select Add Group, enter a Name, and add the Users.
  3. Create your Content Filtering Policy. Under the Criteria dropdown, add the Group you just made.

A new Group is not getting filtered.

When creating a new Group, ensure they are added to the Content Filtering Policy.

Edit the Content Filtering Policy under the section Criteria dropdown, and add the Group into the rule.

I want to disable a filtering policy temporarily

If you would like to disable one rule:

  1. Navigate to Filtering > Content Filtering.
  2. Next to the rule, there is a toggle to disable the rule.
    The rule will be disabled until you re-enable it.

You can disable all filtering for five minutes at a time. For example, If you want to troubleshoot a network component like a router, you must stop filtering to troubleshoot it.

  1. Select the icon next to your School Manager Device Name.
  2. Select Disable Filtering Temporarily.
  3. At the confirmation message, select Disable Filtering.

The filtering will automatically resume at the end of five minutes. If you need to extend the time your filtering is disabled, you can repeat these steps after the five minutes have expired. 

Where do I see how many times users have hit the Content Filtering Policies?

You can change the time range for this report using the date menu at the top-right of your School Manager window and refresh your browser.

  1. Go to Cyber Safety > Blocked. 
  2. Select the Policies tab.
  3. The Hits column displays the total of the blocked attempts during the selected time period.

 

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