Safer students. Better learning.

Why Content-Based Filtering Represents the Future of Filtering

Mike Daugherty, Director of Technology & Information Systems at Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools March 22, 2018

As the Director of Technology and Information Systems at Chagrin Falls, it would not be hyperbole to say I’m on the frontline of student online safety. I manage a fleet of over 2,400 devices and go toe-to-toe with the likes of potential data breaches, inappropriate spam, and student hackers. It’s a jungle out there.



When we initially rolled out our fleet of Chromebooks, we were opening the floodgates to the internet. Even with basic filtering, my best teachers were struggling to ensure that students were focused on the right content online. We needed a robust filtering solution that could truly understand what students were accessing online to keep students focused and safe. Pitted against the abyss that is the ever-evolving internet, the software also needed to be smart; smart like a fox.

Enter content-based filtering. Content-based filtering keeps students safe from the worst the internet has to offer while preserving access to the best. Rather than relying on simple URL-based filtering, GoGuardian Admin provided the district with a filtering solution that gave my team actionable insights into student online behavior. As a result, we could utilize these insights to help improve student behavior and digital citizenship online. This was all made possible with Smart Alerts.

Smart Alerts uses machine learning to look at what's on the screen, and block inappropriate content based on intelligent processes. It also gives me real-time information on what's going on with my kids and keeps me informed. I believe Smart Alerts is the future of where content filtering is going. What Smart Alerts does is: it truly understands the context of what is happening on a web page. So even if the content is coming from a reputable source, like, if the content is still inappropriate or indicates the student isn’t focused on their work - Smart Alerts will catch it.


Content-based filtering keeps students safe from the worst the internet has to offer while preserving access to the best.


What’s more, because of the nature of machine learning, Smart Alerts is continually improving as it receives feedback from educators. When K–12 administrators and educators indicate that a web page is flagged or blocked, the software learns from this incident and becomes even better able to categorize web content over time.

Because Smart Alerts can learn and self-correct, it can also solve for the anomalies. For example, two weeks into our Chromebook rollout, our network went down three days in a row for about 20 minutes. I had to quickly go into diagnosis-mode. Was it a virus? Was it a network issue? What the heck was going on? This was before we started working with GoGuardian, and our security software was still somewhat vulnerable.

The next week, our local internet provider alerted our district that our network was being attacked. Here’s the rub: turns out a student was paying a company in Pakistan to “test our network” by launching DDOS attacks. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back; we realized we needed to be prepared for the worst, and expect the unexpected when it comes to online security and safety. We needed a tool that would allow us to quickly find out what students were doing online.

We implemented GoGuardian Admin, Teacher, and Fleet to be able to comprehensively manage and monitor Chromebooks. It was easy to use and even easier to install. With GoGuardian, I was up and running in literally three minutes. With the recent release of Admin 2.0 this past summer, which has machine learning and AI built in, we are finding things that no other filter on the market can find. As a result, Chagrin Falls was able to achieve a greater level of security, granular monitoring, as well as improved student behavior (or, at the very least, stop the offshore cyberattacks).

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Topics: Safety, Technology

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