Network for Learning (N4L) has developed a safety filter to make the internet safer for all students learning from home that parents can set up on their children’s learning device to block the worst of the web.
Launched in time for schools resuming online classes for Term 2 on Wednesday, 15 April, the N4L safety filter is part of a new initiative to provide safer connectivity for learning while students are away from school called “Switch on Safety.” The initiative is led by Crown Company N4L with support from Netsafe and the Ministry of Education.
The N4L safety filter blocks access to a range of websites known to be unsafe and inappropriate for learning. These include adult websites, as well as those known to host unsafe software, such as malware and phishing scams.
Instructions on how to set up the N4L safety filter can be found at www.switchonsafety.co.nz
The new N4L safety filter is an extension of one of the multiple safety and security services the company has in place at schools, and is available at no cost to students and teachers for the next two years.
Bream Bay College in Northland’s Ruakaka was one of the schools involved in early testing of the filter over the weekend. Principal Wayne Buckland said he’d been fielding questions from parents wondering if there would be filtering in place for home learning: “We have appreciated that N4L has been looking after our students while online at school and that they’ve come up with a method to help keep them safe from bad content while learning online from home.
“We see the safety filter being really helpful for our students and parents. It will help relieve some of the anxiety from our parent community who are concerned about the safety of their children online at a time when there are all sorts of scams and phishing going on.”
N4L CEO Larrie Moore says: “We play an important role keeping over 800,000 children safe online while they’re at school and we are extending our safety and security services to allow parents to help protect their children learning from home.
“By switching on our safety filter, we give children a valuable layer of protection to keep them safer online.”
Mr Moore emphasises that technology is not a silver bullet, and must be combined with good digital citizenship advice provided by organisations like Netsafe to keep children safe online.
N4L’s safety filter will be made available on the laptops provided by the Ministry of Education to students in need.
The technology underpinning the filter is provided to N4L by global cyber security company Akamai Technologies, and is used by governments and businesses across the globe.
In addition to the safety filter, N4L is providing support for the Ministry’s distance learning programme by ensuring teachers can access schools systems and documents stored on the schools network securely, whilst working from home.
N4L is a Crown-owned company that was set up in 2012 to connect all schools and kura across New Zealand to fast, reliable and safe internet services, which are fully managed and supported for more than 850,000 students and teachers via its “Managed Network”.
When children are at school, N4L blocks upwards of 30 million websites a day.