Norfolk schools install kid-monitoring software
Makes children play nice on school network
Norfolk CC is using monitoring software to fight bullying and protect children from internet grooming.
It has set up a managed service for primary schools and is encouraging higher schools to use a software developed by Securus to identify threats to children coming through school networks.
Andrew White, integrated services officer the council's children's services ICT support unit, said it has helped to reduce bullying in the county's schools.
"By implementing Securus it was found that the amount of 'off task' activity decreases rapidly over a short period of time," he said. "Schools using Securus can be confident that their network is constantly being monitored for any infringements of their acceptable use policy and anti-bullying policy."
Speaking to GC News on 4 June 2007, White said the software monitors emails coming onto the schools' networks. It searches for inappropriate words and phrases, monitoring potentially harmful activities whether pupils and teachers are using the internet and email, or working offline in other applications such as Word.
It also provides screenshots of every violation, along with details of the user, workstation, time, date and nature of the incident, to give teachers evidence in dealing with the problem.
New terms can be added to the system when needed, and it can spot insults or threats in text language.
"Children come to the school in the knowledge that if they are using the school's system to open emails staff will pick up any threats," White said.
Some 30 primary and 20 secondary schools in the region now use the software and the council has reported a marked decrease in bad behaviour online.
White said that, while secondary schools are running the system for themselves, the primary schools are using the council's managed service.
"Primary schools in particular don't have the time or resources to research and run this type of technology," he said. "So the council does this for them – checking the violations, saving any serious incidents and passing them to the school to decide on what further action to take."
He added that the process is permissible under the Data and Telecommunications Act as the schools make people aware that they have it in place.
This article was originally published at Kablenet.
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Our school has some software doing roughly the same thing
RM Tutor 3.
A class teacher can watch every screen simultaneously, or go remote desktop on the PC and close all the windows. Or shut the PC down remotely, log students off remotely, etc.
You can't boot from a disc, because they've passworded the BIOS (how long until I break it?) and you can't run any applications other than those in the start menu.
Attempting to do so says (badly paraphrased) "This application has been blocked by a software restriction policy. Please contact your system administrator"
And you can't change any settings (supposedly. On some of the PCs they've left the NVIDIA settings panel in the desktop context menu, so I've upped all the PCs to maximum resolution.) and you can't get to the command prompt.
Well, except on the NT4 PCs up in tech...
(After that incident they've kept a close eye on me.)
Oh, and I forgot to mention the web-sense blocking piece of rubbish. Blocks... well... everything. Used to block Microsoft.com under category Marijuana. Well, it would explain a lot.
Oh, and also the anti-virus, set up to scan all the network packets passing through on startup, pulling network speed to roughly 15Kbps, so logins take five minutes on a good day.
Have Securus installed at our College. Had many a great time changing the user agreement upon login, so anything I wanted, due to the agreement text file being stored in a directory I still had write access to. Years later, still not fixed.
And as said by Fraser. Yup, used to use DSL whenever I wanted to do on a site and not have screenshots taken just because a 'naughty word' came up on screen.
Despite however being captured many times, trying to break into various servers on the network, never recieved more than a small telling off of 'Do you mind not doing that'....
Nice way forward
Teach the little kiddiewinks that it is acceptable (indeed expectable) to control people by spying on them with technology, rather than making it socially unacceptable to behave in a bullying manner, or to actually expect supervision when using potentially dangerous technology. You wouldn't think this was acceptable if a chemistry lab was run along the same principles.
Also, it'll be circumvented in about thirty seconds, just fire up something like DSL (damn small linux) on a USB key, with its Linux VM in Windows technology.