Link2ICT WebDA Service
St Edmund Campion Catholic School and Handsworth Grammar are using the Link2ICT WebDA Service to successfully manage online filtering.
The Link2ICT Delegated Web Administration Service (WebDA) puts your school in control of what your pupils and staff can (and cannot) access on the internet, giving you direct responsibility over your own filtering policies and the freedom to make changes, as you need them, to meet your unique teaching and learning needs.
St Edmund Campion Catholic School
Having heard about the WebDA service at a Link2ICT Network Managers’ event, St Edmund Campion Catholic School wanted to have the autonomy to set the parameters for what their school community could access. Until then, internet access had been restricted by IP range, and with devices outnumbering users, this task was onerous to manage with unreliable and unsatisfactory results. Such an approach does not cater to the unique needs of the individual user. Filtering of content was applied by global categories managed by Link2ICT. Filtering at this level ensures safeguarding for all, however, cannot cater for the specific needs of the individual. For example, subject matter which is appropriate for a sixth former is very different to someone in Year 7. Changes to the global filtering requires logging a call with the Service Desk, a formal process which can take time, and naturally creates a barrier to the learning experience.
Ben Stevens, ICT Network Manager at St Edmund Campion was impressed by the functionality the Web DA service demonstrated at our event. Access rules are based on Microsoft’s Active Directory which allows users to be categorised into their appropriate year groups. Therefore, restrictions and limitations can easily be defined for respective school groups.
Before signing up to our service, Ben sensibly researched other options, getting quotes from other suppliers for their WebDA solutions, but discovered some cost up to ten times more than Link2ICT. Therefore, the school was more than happy to choose the economical option from their trusted supplier.
The redirection of traffic to the new proxy server was carried out by our expert network team who liaised closely with Ben. Once the WebDA service was up and running at the school, Ben was happy to report, “the transition was seamless, with no disruption to our users.”
A training session was included in the package, covering everything needed to manage the system, but Ben felt it was “so simple and easy to use, that I probably didn’t need the training. I spent some time setting up the user groups within Active Directory and fine tuning to ensure each user had the appropriate access, but having done this, it now just works, which is great! Now, when a member of staff requests access to a new resource or web content for their class, it is a straightforward process to open it up to those pupils. Year groups can now have access to exactly what they need, it’s no longer the all-or-nothing approach that it used to be. Teachers can deliver their lessons knowing the content they have included will be accessible, and pupils are kept on task. Using the internet in lessons is no longer an administrative nightmare, nor are there uncertainties around safeguarding, there is no longer that invisible barrier to the learning experience.”
Ben is enthusiastic about the benefits of the WebDA service; in comparison to how access was controlled in the past. He is now able to make changes as and when he needs to, resources can be made available for specific lessons, such as exploring the safety issues of using Facebook, and when that class is over, facebook can be restricted once again. The WebDA dashboard gives users an instant snapshot of what’s going on at that particular time, and also provides a wide range of standard reports, such as volume of traffic and most visited categories of websites. WebDA administrators can also create bespoke reports, allowing you to track the usage information important to you. It is this level of monitoring, reporting, control and flexibility which makes the Link2ICT WebDA service a perfect solution to manage internet access across the school community.
The WebDA service is based on the reliability and security of the McAfee product, but Link2ICT has worked on improving the basic interface, “Link2ICT has designed the system so it is very easy to use, and much more user friendly. We haven’t experienced any problems, it is reliable and consistent, it just works. The WebDA service provides us with a more secure safeguarding solution, as we can apply policies tailored to our needs.”
“We would recommend it 100% over other products, or similar services which are more expensive, plus we get support from Link2ICT. We can’t fault it, the WebDA service does exactly what we want it to do, and is cheaper!”
Handsworth Grammar School
Handsworth Grammar School was invited by Link2ICT, to join the pilot scheme for the WebDA service. Adam Kilcullen, the school’s ICT Technical Manager, likes the control our service gives him to manage web filtering for their students and staff. Adam is able to set up year or class groups with Microsoft Active Directory and authenticate against those user groups, giving age-appropriate access to websites and resources.
This level of control is something he was unable to do before, where web filtering was controlled by content categories. This approach successfully blocks sites such as YouTube, but in doing so, prevents all other users including teaching staff, who might want to access video content as a source of lesson materials. When Adam opened up the video channel for staff to use, the pupils also had access and network activity spiked, causing problems to network performance.
Use of social media had also been an issue, where the school wanted certain staff to access it but not open it up to everyone else. The WebDA service allowed the school to give access to exactly who should, and shouldn’t, be using sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Being able to choose who has access and when, enables the school to keep pupils on task and ensure the network is not slowed down by non-curriculum related usage.
The Link2ICT WebDA service is built on the same industry-leading McAfee Web Gateway technology as the standard Link2ICT web filtering service, and provides a dedicated solution to your individual school or school collective (such as an Academy Trust or school partnership).
Adam appreciated the training provided which covered the functionality and features of the system. This support provided an overview of the user interface and showed him how to make the necessary administrator adjustments and tweaks to the settings, to personalise access and restrictions for users in his school.
“The system has allowed us to apply different levels of filtering to staff and students, and it gives us a lot more control over what we can block. For example, we had previously completely blocked access to YouTube for students; however the new system has application controls that enable us to filter certain YouTube categories, such as music and entertainment, while still giving access to educational videos. This has been well received by staff, and feedback from pupils has been really positive. As an Administrator, I am really pleased with the flexibility of the system and the amount of control it gives us.”
Now that Adam is in control, he saves time previously spent raising calls via the Link2ICT Service Desk to filter content on his behalf,
“I’m no longer reliant on someone else to make any changes and I haven’t got to wait for those changes to be made either. I haven’t experienced any issues with the system and am able to monitor network traffic and generate usage and history reports for both pupils and staff, which is really useful. I have used other services, but I prefer the Link2ICT Web Delegated Admin service and it is cheaper too! I would definitely recommend it to other schools."
If you would like to take control of your own filtering policies to meet your school's unique teaching and learning needs, please contact your Link2ICT Account Manager.