Duncraig Senior High School located in Duncraig, Western Australia, consists of over 1500 students and provides a caring environment that is designed to support the development of the whole person - someone who has a positive attitude, respects the rights of others and actively seeks excellence.
The following is an interview with the school's Technology and Communication's manager Michael Raymond.
The main challenge our school had was the lack of visibility over our internet traffic. With over 1500 students having relatively open access to the internet, it was scary having no idea what students were doing online.
We wanted to be able to track an individual student from a welfare perspective to see wasted time, unproductive searches and what was happening online. We just didn't have the ability to do anything like that in an easy way or without something that required a lot of technical staff time using the undecipherable logs from the firewall.
We looked at monitoring solutions that also controlled internet traffic but they had performance issues and throttled throughput, so we decided to look for something that would read the logs from our enterprise grade firewall and provide good reports. After a frustrating six to eight months trying to implement a proof of concept with another solution, we stumbled across Fastvue and found it extremely easy to deploy and very affordable.
We also love the fact that it is on-prem software from a privacy point of view as the potentially sensitive data with student and staff online information never leaves the school and is completely under our control.
We first started testing Fastvue before our firewall was performing deep packet SSL inspection and even then it was eye opening to finally have visibility into the unproductive websites being visited.
When we started rolling out deep packet SSL inspection, the interesting search terms and YouTube videos being watched started coming through in the alerting and reporting. That's when we started seeing the true value of Fastvue Reporter.
We especially like the browsing time component, knowing exactly how long a student has watched a video or engaged with some online content provides critical insight into a student’s digital citizenship.
The Overview reports are very good with the Safeguarding section being the main part school coordinators are looking at. This includes suspicious searches, YouTube videos, and what students are trying to get to such as VPN / proxy anonymizers, but the firewall is blocking.
Each year level coordinator receives critical information such as self-harm related searches as a real time alert, in addition to a weekly overview report for their cohort for review. We can also give them the ability to monitor a specific student with daily reports if there is someone they’re concerned about.
From a technical level, the IT team uses the dashboards and bandwidth sections to identify bandwidth hogging applications or websites that need to be cracked down on.
Fastvue Reporter has highlighted a few students developing in their maturity and enjoying their lunch time searches a little bit too much. Some of these instances required follow-up with the school chaplains and counsellors.
We have a special needs student here and the education assistants working with this student use Fastvue Reporter to find out what he's doing at certain times of the day. If there are certain websites and places that he is frequently visiting to avoid doing work, then we implement an individual website or category block during those times to try and keep him on task a little bit more. The education assistants also find the information useful when discussing the student’s progress with his parents and identifying areas where the school needs their help.
We found that if we block everything, students just end up using their phone’s hotspot (even though they shouldn’t). By having a relatively open policy we encourage students to use the school’s internet, and can better meet our duty of care requirements by monitoring that activity with Fastvue Reporter. Students get a better learning outcome as they can access the materials they need without distractions, and student services can identify students that need help earlier.
Fastvue Reporter has bought us visibility and that was the key thing we really wanted. Now we have it, we can much better attend to our online safeguarding responsibilities at the school.
Download Fastvue Reporter now and try it free for 30 days or schedule a demo and we'll show you how it works.