Headteacher Magazine, guide to services and products for UK Schools
Craig Fearnsides, product expert at Smoothwall web filtering, discusses the need for effective monitoring systems in educational settings…
The number of teen suicides has risen dramatically in the past seven years. Cyberbullying is clearly more widespread and more impactful than face-to-face bullying. Why do you think this is?
“There are a number of contributing factors, however it boils down to a constant access online and potential negativity. Now more than ever young people are in possession of more than one internet connected device and spend much of their social time interacting online, even when in physical proximity to their social groups. What this means is that passing comments or off-hand replies are now permanently accessible to be dredged over and read into, creating an echo chamber of negativity that would not otherwise be possible.”
How does RADAR work?
“Smoothwall RADAR is an intelligent real-time monitoring solution that alerts safeguarding staff to incidents as they happen. RADAR monitors both online and offline keystrokes, and can capture static imagery, video streaming and webcam activity when activated. The intuitive interface for RADAR gives safeguarding staff a visual picture of incidents in real-time, both during and outside school hours on any supported device.”
What is its impact on teens, and have you been able to research on RADAR’s effectiveness?
“At Smoothwall we have been building up our monitoring and filtering offerings and incorporating anonymous statistic gathering; these are fed into the Smoothwall Insights programme which informs our product marketing and direction. Although we cannot separate out RADAR from overall monitoring, we do notice interesting trends across the Smoothwall estate.”
Is RADAR for use on personal devices or school devices?
“RADAR is software based so is designed for use on school-owned devices, although with RADAR Lite we are able to plug into the Smoothwall web filter, meaning that we can monitor web traffic and search engine usage without the need to install software.”
Does RADAR work with all social media apps?
“For Windows and macOS, RADAR monitors all keystrokes typed and content viewed on the screen, including applications such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.”
Do teens need to give their permission for RADAR to be used on their devices?
“In certain circumstances students do need to give their permission for RADAR to be used, although schools usually include this within their Acceptable Use Policy and don’t allow the use of school resources without accepting it. However, since September 2016, The Department for Education has stipulated that all schools should have appropriate filtering and monitoring in place.”
How much would RADAR typically cost for a secondary school to implement?
“RADAR is delivered as Software-as-a-Service therefore there are no servers to manage and maintain keeping implementation costs down to a minimum. Deploying the RADAR software is usually achieved with group policy, SCCM, or an MDM solution, all of which are familiar to schools meaning that the software can be rolled out by a school without needing additional resourcing. RADAR is licensed on a per-pupil basis and there are price breaks for all sizes of schools to keep it very competitive within the market.”
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