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School Manager Filtering for Student Wellbeing

This article is for filtering, reporting, and IT support.

Content Filtering in School Manager is both 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 how to use Signatures/Categories to create basic level filtering policies before combining them with Time Periods to create more advanced and targeted filtering policies.

Beginner Topics

Understanding Categories, Signatures, and Time Periods

Signatures and Categories play an important 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.

Categories and Subcategories

Categories are collections of websites and signatures that are grouped together because they contain similar types of content. When you use School Manager to apply a content filtering policy to a category, all the websites and signatures in that category will be affected by the policy, including everything in all subcategories.

Categories can have one or more subcategories. Subcategories break the main category down into more specific topics to give you finer control over what you’re blocking and allowing. If you apply a policy to a subcategory, it will only apply to content in that subcategory. However, if you create a policy that applies to the main category, it will apply to all of its subcategories unless you create another policy to stop it from applying to them.

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 very popular sites and applications, or ones that need special treatment. However, every signature belongs to a category, and policies that affect this category may also apply to the signature.

Time Periods

Time Periods are a type of School Manager Object that 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 so that, for example, 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 useful 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.
    When creating a policy, you can configure the following settings:
  3. Enter a Name, such as "Block - YouTube - All Students".
  4. In Type, enter "YouTube" into the website/category, then select the YouTube Signature from the dropdown.
  5. (Optional) Select Group from Criteria.
    Select the Group name from the new dropdown list.
  6. Select Block.
  7. Other filtering policy options can be configured:

    1. Redirect URL - check the Redirect box and then enter the web address of any page, like your acceptable use policy
    2. Blocked Page - use School Manager's blocked access page
    3. Alert - if a user is blocked, trigger blocked events to appear in reports and in optional email notifications
    4. 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
    5. 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

  8. 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 useful 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, continue to the next steps.

  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.
  5. Enter a policy name, such as Block - YouTube - All Students (School Hours).
  6. Enter YouTube, then select the YouTube Signature from the Website/Category dropdown.
  7. Select all student groups that you wish the policy to apply to from the Group dropdown.
  8. Select the School Hours time period from the Time Period dropdown.
  9. Select Block from the dropdown.
  10. Other Filtering policy options can be configured as required:

    1. Redirect URL
    2. Blocked Page
    3. Alert
    4. Quarantine
    5. Locked

  11. 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 it 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 useful 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 BeforeSchool 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.
  5. Enter a policy name, such as "Block - YouTube - All Students (Before School)".
  6. Select the YouTube Signature from the Website/Category dropdown.
  7. Select all student groups that you wish the policy to apply to from the Group dropdown.
    Select the Before School time period from the Time Period dropdown.
  8. Select Block from the dropdown.
  9. Other Filtering policy options can be configured as required:

    1. Redirect URL
    2. Blocked Page
    3. Alert
    4. Quarantine
    5. Locked
  10. Select Save Policy.
  11. 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 useful 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 and HTTPS Inspection to block specific streaming videos. MITM and HTTPS Inspection must be enabled on School Manager to block specific streaming videos if your school doesn’t use the Linewize Connect for Chrome extension.

  • MITM needs to be enabled in the Off School Manager Network configuration if your users have Linewize Connect installed on their macOS or Windows devices.
  • YouTube, Google Search, and Bing are automatically monitored on users' devices running Connect for Chrome inside the web browser.
  • HTTPS Inspection needs to be enabled on devices connecting to a School Manager physical appliance.

Important

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.
  5. Enter a policy name, such as "Block - Specific YouTube - All Students".
  6. Enter a type, such as 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.

  7. Select all student groups that you wish the policy to apply to.
  8. Select Block from the dropdown.
  9. Other Filtering policy options can be configured as required:

    1. Redirect URL
    2. Blocked Page
    3. Alert
    4. Quarantine
    5. Locked

  10. Select Save Policy.