School Manager Filtering for Student Wellbeing

This article is for IT support.

Content Filtering in School Manager is powerful and flexible, allowing you to have granular control over which websites 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 to ensure you have a basic level of filtering, but you can customize them and add new ones as needed.

This article first covers using Categories/Signatures to create basic-level filtering policies before combining them with Time Periods to create more advanced and targeted filtering policies.

Beginner Topics

Understanding Themes, Categories, Signatures, and Time Periods

Signatures and Categories play an essential part in how School Manager filters the internet at your school. You can create content filtering policies that meet your school's needs by combining categories and signatures.

Themes, Categories and Signatures

Themes are collections of categories, signatures, and websites that are grouped together because they contain similar types of content. When you use School Manager to apply a content filtering policy to a theme, the policy will affect all the categories and websites in that theme.

Categories can have signatures and websites. Categories break the main theme down into more specific topics to give you finer control over what you’re blocking and allowing. If you apply a policy to a category, it will only apply to content in that category. However, if you create a policy that applies to the main theme, it will apply to all of its categories.

Signatures

A Signature is a pattern or fingerprint that School Manager can use to identify a specific website, service, or application. Not all sites and applications have a signature; signatures are usually only created for popular sites and applications or ones needing special treatment. However, every signature belongs to a category, and policies that affect this category may also apply to the signature.

Find out more about Categories and Signatures.

Time Periods

Time Periods are a type of School Manager Object you can use to set when filtering policies do and don’t apply. You can not only create multiple time periods, but apply multiple time periods to a single policy to block access to a site during class time but allow it at recess and lunch.

Blocking a single category or signature

Filtering at the beginner level involves using Categories and Signatures to block websites and applications for all your users. This level of filtering allows you to track the number of times a specific filter policy blocks users. This filtering type is helpful if you want to restrict access to all users at all times of the day.

  1. In School Manager, select Filtering > Content Filtering.
    You will see your current Content Filtering policies.
  2. To add a new policy, select + Create Policy.
  3. When creating a policy, you can configure the following settings:
    1. Enter a Name, such as "Block - YouTube - All Students".
    2. In Type, enter "YouTube" into the website/category, then select the YouTube Signature from the dropdown.
    3. (Optional) Select Group from Criteria
      Select the Group name from the new dropdown list.
    4. Select Block.
    5. Other filtering policy options can be configured:
    6. Redirect URL - check the Redirect box and then enter the web address of any page, like your acceptable use policy
    7. Blocked Page - use School Manager's blocked access page
    8. Alert - if a user is blocked, trigger blocked events to appear in reports and in optional email notifications
    9. Quarantine - if the device is connected to your school network and you have a School Manager appliance, temporarily prevent the device from accessing the internet
    10. Locked Rule - make this policy run before unlocked policies, and do not allow teachers to use Classwize rules or bypass codes to override this policy
    11. Select Save Policy.

You will need to move specific policies above any general policies that might override this policy. Locked policies are automatically grouped at the top and run first. After you move the policy to the correct position, you will select the toggle to enable this policy (green). See Content Filtering Ordering.

Intermediate Topics

Blocking a Signature only during a specific time

Filtering at an intermediate level involves using Categories and Signatures to block websites and applications, plus adding a Time Period to restrict its operation to specific hours for all your users. This level of filtering allows you to track when students are most active on the internet and determine which students are more distracted during a set time period. This filtering type is helpful if you want to restrict access to all users for a specific time during the day.

Time Period

If a Time Period for school hours already exists, these steps can be skipped.

  1. In School Manager, select Configuration > Objects > Time Periods.
  2. Select Add Time Period.
  3. Enter a name, such as School Hours and select Add.
  4. Select the school Days using the checkboxes. You can select one day or multiple days.
  5. Select Save.

Filter Policy

  1. In School Manager, select Filtering > Content Filtering.
  2. You will see your current Content Filtering policies.
  3. To add a new policy, select + Create Policy.
  4. When creating a policy, you can configure the following settings.
    1. Enter a Name, such as Block - YouTube - All Students (School Hours).
    2. For Type, enter YouTube, then select the YouTube Signature from the Website/Category dropdown.
    3. For Criteria, select Group, then select all student groups you wish the policy to apply to from the Group dropdown.
    4. For Criteria, select Time Periods, then the School Hours time period from the Time Period dropdown.
    5. For Action, select Block.
    6. Other Filtering policy options can be configured as required:
      • Redirect
      • Redirect URL
      • Blocked Page
      • Alert
      • Quarantine
      • Locked
    7. Select Save Policy.

Allowing a Signature but blocking its Category

Another intermediate-level filtering type involves using two filtering policies to allow a Signature but block its category. 

To allow the YouTube Signature while blocking the Streaming Media category, you would create two policies with the specific Allow YouTube policy ordered before the policy that Blocks all items in the related Category

  1. Allow YouTube
  2. Block Streaming Media 

Advanced Topics

Blocking a Signature during different times of the day

Filtering at an advanced level involves using Categories and Signatures to block websites and applications, plus multiple Time Periods to block its operation to set periods throughout the day for all your users. This level of filtering allows you to track when students are most active on the internet and determine which students are more distracted during specific times during school hours. This filtering type is helpful if you want to block access to all users for specific times, such as recess, lunch or outside school hours.

Time Period

  1. In School Manager, select Configuration > Objects > Time Periods.

    Note

    if Time Periods for class times, recess and lunch times and outside school hours already exist, these steps can be skipped.

  2. Select Add Time Period.
  3. Enter a name, such as Before School and select Add.
  4. Select the school Days using the checkboxes. You can select one day or multiple days.
  5. Select Save.
  6. Repeat steps 2 - 5 for other Time Periods, such as Morning Class, Lunch, Afternoon Class and After School. 

Filter Policies

  1. In School Manager, select Filtering > Content Filtering.
  2. You will see your current Content Filtering policies.
  3. To add a new policy, select + Create Policy.
  4. When creating a policy, you can configure the following settings.
    1. Enter a Name, such as "Block - YouTube - All Students (Before School)".
    2. For Type, select the YouTube Signature from the Website/Category dropdown.
    3. For Criteria, select Group, then select all student groups you wish the policy to apply to from the Group dropdown.
    4. For Criteria, select Time Periods, then the Before School time period from the Time Period dropdown.
    5. For Action, select Block.
    6. Other Filtering policy options can be configured as required:
      • Redirect
      • Redirect URL
      • Blocked Page
      • Alert
      • Quarantine
      • Locked
    7. Select Save Policy.
    8. Repeat steps 1 - 10 for other policies, such as Morning Class, Lunch, Afternoon Class and After School.

Expert Topics

Blocking select users or groups

Filtering at an expert level involves using Categories and Signatures to block websites and applications, plus using User or Group criteria to limit its operation to specific users or groups. This level of filtering allows you to track when specific students or groups are most active on the internet and determine when they are most distracted. This filtering type is helpful if you want to block known users or groups. 

To block select users or groups from YouTube, you would create a Block YouTube policy that uses the policy Users or Groups criteria.  

For information on adding or managing Users and Groups in School Manager, see 

Block a specific YouTube video

Another expert-level filtering type involves using Categories and Signatures plus MITM to block specific streaming videos. MITM must be enabled on School Manager to block specific streaming videos if your school doesn’t use the Linewize Connect for Chrome extension.

Note

Blocking a specific YouTube video is not possible on the YouTube iOS and Android apps due to certificate pinning. Linewize suggests using the website version of YouTube and removing the app from the device using an MDM solution.

 

Create a filter policy that blocks a specific YouTube video:

  1. In School Manager, select Filtering > Content Filtering.
  2. You will see your current Content Filtering policies.
  3. To add a new policy, select + Create Policy.
  4. When creating a policy, you can configure the following settings.
    1. Enter a Name, such as "Block - Specific YouTube - All Students".
    2. For Type, enter the YouTube video URL with a * on the end.

      Note

      Appending an asterisk to the URL prevents students from getting around the policy by manually adding &t=1 to the URL.

    3. For Criteria, select Group and then select all student groups you wish the policy to apply to.
    4. For Action, select Block.
    5. Other Filtering policy options can be configured as required:
      • Redirect URL
      • Blocked Page
      • Alert
      • Quarantine
      • Locked
    6. Select Save Policy.
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