AWS Public Sector Blog

Innovative internet safety solutions keep students connected and secure online

For school systems across the U.S., making sure students have a secure environment to use the internet is not only the right thing to do—it’s the law. Since the year 2000, the Children’s Internet Protection Act requires schools and libraries that receive discounted internet access through the E-rate program to restrict access to inappropriate content, protect against hacking, safeguard personal information, and create safe conditions for direct electronic communications. The rapid shift to online learning only heightened these concerns because of the need to provide home internet hook-ups for students without compromising personal data.

Finding safety and speed in the cloud for remote education

This is something that the Kentucky Department of Education (DOE) has taken seriously. “We need to make sure that all students and staff have safe and secure access to the internet as an instructive resource,” says Chuck Austin, the head of customer relations in emerging technology for the Kentucky DOE Office of Education Technology. “And with the transition to remote learning, we have a responsibility to provide schools with the most advanced tools available to keep students safe while using devices at home.”

With nearly a million users among students, teachers, and administrators, the district knew it needed a solution that was both effective and flexible. It turned to Lightspeed Systems, an Amazon Web Systems (AWS) Partner and expert in online security and analytics, with experience helping more than 20 million students in 38 countries. Lightspeed Systems harnessed the AWS Cloud with Lightspeed Filter, a tool that combines serverless architecture with the ability to support any operating system. As the district was pivoting to 100 percent remote learning, rollout had to be fast. As compared to the nine months required to install a prior on-premise solution in every one of the department’s 171 districts, Lightspeed Filter was ready in eight weeks, in time for the fall 2020 semester.

Four key steps to protect students online—at school and at home

The Kentucky DOE knew that monitoring student internet safety would be more complex during the pandemic, as students logged in from personal devices and Wi-Fi networks—but they felt protected with Lightspeed Filter. Here are four ways Lightspeed Systems helped Kentucky teachers, and administrators, and students stay safe and connected while learning from home:

  1. Delivering safer searches

With Lightspeed Filter, administrators could monitor student activity across devices—an especially important feature when students are at home. Using advanced artificial intelligence (AI), Lightspeed Filter filters content and tracks student searches, making sure they can only see age-appropriate material.

  1. Supporting teachers

The analytics platform helped teachers adapt to virtual instruction by providing real-time visibility into students’ workspaces. With Lightspeed Classroom Management, teachers can keep students on task, even if they are miles away. The tool gives teachers the ability to send private messages to distracted students, and even redirect their browser if they get off target.

  1. Making smart allocation of resources

Administrators can use Lightspeed Analytics to keep an eye on attendance and participation across districts and track how teachers and students are using applications. With these insights, they can make better decisions about where to invest school funds.

  1. Protecting kids from harm

Lightspeed Alert uses AI to monitor for concerning online activity and sends out real-time alerts to designated district services and safety specialists when students seem likely to harm themselves or others. This emergency alert system is critical in a virtual learning environment where students have fewer opportunities to talk one-on-one with school staff about mental health concerns, and education professionals are less able to monitor behavioral changes in students who may be at risk.

Internet safety for the 21st Century

“We’ve been providing internet safety measures and focusing on digital citizenship for the last two decades,” says Austin. But even for this tech-savvy district, the “anywhere, always-on” learning model posed new challenges. With support from Lightspeed Systems, the Kentucky DOE is now able to keep students safe and engaged online—whether they are learning in the classroom or at their kitchen tables.

Learn more by reading the Lightspeed Systems and Kentucky Department of Education case study. And learn more about the cloud for education.

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