January 31, 2023
Students Can Work “Securly” with Content Filtering
Securly, an education-based content filtering system and CDW Education partner, allows administrators to track what students are doing on their devices to keep them safe from others and even themselves.
Enabled and Empowered
Ashburnham Westminster Regional School District (AWRSD) serves over 2,400 K-12 students in North Worcester County, Ashburnham and Westminster, Massachusetts. “We became a Google Workspace district about 12 years ago. They are very education-friendly, and they listen to the feedback teachers give them. For such a huge company...it’s kind of amazing,” shared Eric DeHays, the district’s Director of Technology and Communications.
AWRSD’s relationship with CDW Education began after they had purchased a fleet of Chromebooks. “Google pointed us in your direction,” Eric explained. “They offered us the opportunity to work with their partners to do PD (professional development) or receive add-ons.” Currently, Eric’s team are members of the Google Technical Collaborative and use Gopher Tools for their Google Workspace. He had spent a few years looking at different vendors that offered content filtering ability but wasn’t satisfied with what he found. It was around the same time AWRSD began working with CDW Education that he discovered Securly. “I didn't know that CDW Education was a reseller, and their partnership made the experience even better,” said Eric.
Keeping Students Safe
Originally, AWRSD schools were 2:1. However, during the pandemic, they became 1:1. “This was a huge jump for us,” Eric stated. “K-12 have devices, teachers have devices, even some paraeducators have devices. We’re even pulling computer labs.” Like many other districts who found themselves acquiring Chromebooks to send home with their students, Eric’s team ran into challenges remotely monitoring usage. “We didn’t have a way to filter content while they were at home. We were flying by the seat of our pants handing out devices, and needed to filter them,” he explained.
AWRSD’s IT department doesn’t have access to their existing content filter. It is built into their firewall which is managed by another company. They wanted something more flexible, and education centered. Securly proved to be the solution they needed to protect students with a feature to scan user activity for keywords that directly state or imply self-harm, bullying, etc. Because the district does not welcome students into the building every day, the content filter allows staff to navigate past the “happy face” students may put on and identify red flags to provide support for those that really need help. “Our therapist and school resource officers are involved in this, and everything is working extremely well,” Eric added.
Securly also has a classroom management function that lets teachers push out websites to student browsers or shut off web browsing during class time.ough a small screen on the token itself.
In This Together
Securly’s capacity to filter content has been a game changer for AWRSD, but CDW Education’s Google Technical Collaborative anchors them in a sea of never-ending Google Workspace for Education changes and updates. For Eric and his team, the most valuable aspects are hearing experiences from people across the U.S. and being able to bounce ideas off of like-minded professionals. “We’re all in the same boat. During the pandemic, the Collaborative grounded us,” Eric said. “I sign up for every webinar they offer because I learn so much every time.”
When asked to quantify how the Collaborative was saving him time and resources, Eric detailed, “It warns me about the things I need to know. Down the road, it probably does save me time since we don’t have to deal with challenges created because we set something wrong. It’s preventative in that way because we’re implementing the best practices and suggestions.” He went on to say this about Securly, “Without Securly, I’d be paying twice as much for everything offered in the package. We’d have to hire therapists to read over everything students are doing on their devices, then we’d need a class management system, and a content filter.”
As AWRSD transitions back to in-person learning, Eric and his team are trying to figure out how to maintain their fleet of devices so students can continue working securely. Their summer goal is to be IT custodians and do a cleanup. “We’re putting a lot of things in place, Securly being one of them. Working with CDW Education has given us a roadmap to ensure we’re doing things right and identifying the things we need to watch out for,” Eric shared. In hopes that other districts considering CDW Education, and their third-party products and services will take that next step, he encouraged, “If you see anything that CDW Education has, it’s going to be rock solid. Everything I’ve gotten has been more than I expected. A lot of vendors drop the ball when it comes to education. CDW Education knows what education is and knows what it needs.”