Towards the end of last year, Securly was implemented on all school networks. Securly is a Chrome Extension that blocks websites that it deems inappropriate. It succeeds at blocking unacceptable websites for school as it is designed to do, however its accuracy has been criticized by students.
Mr. Barr, head of the IT team, points out that “By law the school district has to filter internet access for all students.” It’s completely reasonable to not let students decide to watch a porno in the back of class, but students are becoming frustrated by it affecting their ability to work productively in school.
“We weren’t allowed to do our drug research for Health class because they had everything blocked,” said a student requesting anonymity. “It set the whole class back a couple days.”
Another student also requesting anonymity told me that “Its algorithms aren’t specific enough to pick up the nuances of actual search terms. If you search ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ it locks up. I think in many ways it prevents students from actively doing their work because it often blocks important resources.”
Frustration of students seems almost unanimous, as not a single person I asked said they liked the software or knew anyone who did.
However, Securly does offer some benefits. It gives better reports compared to previous software, which can be viewed by all staff without needing to tediously contact the school’s IT team. In that regard, the already busy team can be more productive by spending their time on more important things.
Though Securly fixes problems, it also causes some problems of its own. The school often changes their Internet restrictions constantly to find what works best. Either Securly is here to stay or it's time to try something different.