Creating a Safe Learning Environment

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Mount St. Mary’s Academy

Industry: K-8 Education
Network Size: 50 users

“Untangle’s major features…are really vital to us maintaining a safe environment for the kids to learn in.”

Background

The internet has presented the education system with some great opportunities and some major headaches. Educators continue to grapple with the best way to help kids use the internet in school while protecting them from online dangers.

This was the problem facing Steve Tassone, teacher and IT coordinator of Mount St. Mary’s Academy, a private Catholic school in Grass Valley, California.“What we were trying to accomplish was a greater level of access to the internet for the kids – because from an educational point of view it’s a useful tool for research and gathering information. At the same time we were very anxious to protect them from some of the bad stuff out there.”

Defining Needs, Seeking Advice

The school started out by forming a technical committee to define students’ needs and seek ways of addressing some of the potential problems. “We were fortunate,” says Steve, “that we had a lot of advice and experience on hand. Several parents were willing to get involved with technical recommendations. There was also an advantage in being a church school – we could take a look at some of the solutions being used by other schools in the diocese.”

Implementing the Policy

The technical committee came up with access and use policies around which a solution could be evaluated. Now that Untangle is being used to manage and monitor network traffic, Steve and his helpers can review these policies every few weeks against the data they receive from Untangle reports. Even though Mount St. Mary’s is a relatively small school – there are a couple of dozen computers and a total user base of fifty individuals, staff and students included – Steve doesn’t have the time to manually maintain an overly complex security system.

“Untangle is a massive time saver, and, in technical terms, really a seamless fit,” says Steve. “I’m a teacher, not a full-time technician, so it was useful for me to have a solution that could be incorporated with minimum fuss. We’re in a situation now where we use nearly all of Untangle’s major features – the spyware and virus protection, the monitoring reports and the capacity it gives us to place restrictions on users’ access with Web Filter are really vital to us maintaining a safe environment for the kids to learn in.