Students learning at school are protected from exposure to all sorts of online dangers by school board network technologies, like firewalls and endpoint protection services. Firewall web-content-filtering rules, such as those offered by Palo Alto Networks and Cisco, are configured to protect students from harmful and disturbing content on the internet, by limiting or blocking access to certain categories of website, such as adult content and gambling sites, and by either limiting or blocking access to social media sites like Facebook and TikTok.

Providing the same level of protection to students learning from home, outside of the school board’s network, but still using school-owned devices, presents much more of a challenge. To meet this challenge, IT departments should consider where that protection should reside. One option is to protect at the software layer on board-owned devices on loan to students.

Monitor students’ devices with Lenovo LanSchool Air

Lenovo’s LanSchool Air software runs on Chromebooks, as well as PC and Mac devices. It helps to increase student-teacher engagement by allowing the teacher to open a LanSchool Air remote session with students, which provides the teacher an “at a glance” view of each student’s device. They can also block access to unwanted websites, push out websites to all students simultaneously and even blank student screens to help them focus on the lesson. LanSchool Air partners with DNSFilter to provide similar web-content filtering for students in remote locations outside of the school’s network.

GoGuardian offers protection on G Suite

For school boards using the popular G Suite platform, GoGuardian Teacher offers a similar digital window to what students are doing on their devices, wherever they are. GoGuardian’s new, built-in videoconferencing platform lets teachers set up secure 1:1 and group video lessons without needing to leave the GoGuardian application.

GoGuardian Admin has a number of advanced tools to protect students from harmful content on any device. It can also identify students at risk, based on their browsing history, and can even automate responses when student safety is in danger. Both LanSchool Air and GoGuardian integrate seamlessly with Google Classroom to make it easy for teachers to set up the software with their students.

Protect students at the connection layer

Protecting students at the software layer works well, but only protects the student while using a school-owned device. School boards that want to go further, and are providing internet access to students learning from home, can implement protection at the connection layer.

Kajeet SmartSpots can be provided with integrated Rogers or Bell SIM cards to provide high-speed internet to students who have limited home access. At the heart of the SmartSpots is the Sentinel Mobile Virtual Network Enabler solution. Sentinel provides the same kind of web-content filtering that we see on school networks, but on a SmartSpot that sits in the student’s home. This way, any device that is connected to the SmartSpot is protected, whether that is a school-owned device or a student-owned device.

In these times of hybrid schooling models, protecting students learning from home becomes a digital equity issue, as well as a student safety issue. Fortunately, CDW’s team of specialized security professionals can help school systems assess the efficacy of their current protection services and provide assistance in identifying the most cost-effective and efficient improvements where needed. To learn more about CDW’s security solutions, visit CDW.ca/security.

Authored by: Alistair MacLeod

Alistair is a CDW Education Strategist with more than 30 years in the education sector – from educator to Technology-Enabled Learning Specialist to Manager of Information Technology, among other experiences and accolades. With the CDW Canada team, Alistair’s goal is to better support customers through this challenging period in education and into the future as technology continues to shape education delivery and engagement models.

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