There’s a new blocker in town


Used with Permission by Public Domain/PIXNIO

Is SFSD indirectly “stopping” students from accessing the resources they need to learn?

Gabe Schmit, Staff Writer

Some changes are not always for the better. In some cases, they may generate a potentially worse outcome. 

As is the case for the recently introduced ContentKeeper Express, more widely known as CK-Express, a replacement for the now defunct NetSpectre website auditor. The tool, created by ContentKeeper, prevents students from accessing diverting or malicious sites on school-issued computers. As required by COPPA, or the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, schools are required by law to censor or completely erase potentially harmful content or media. 

By normal means, a student should not have an issue, as long as they stick to sites they know are well within school-safe boundaries. However, this does not seem to be the case, with many students and several teachers complaining over the absurdly long time it takes to connect and boot on district-issued laptops. According to ContentKeeper’s website, their “seamless deployments won’t interrupt operations.” Most, however, are beginning to call doubt on this statement. A quick test revealed that a generic SFSD-issued 2nd generation Chromebook takes anywhere from ten to 30+ seconds to successfully boot beyond the infamous “initializing” stage, in which the browser is blocked from making any requests at all to any sort of website, program or external source. In comparison, NetSpectre did not require any time to start on boot, leading some to wonder what CK-Express is really doing behind the scenes. 

Another problem faced is the lack of potentially distracting sites not being blocked by the filter. Several teachers at LHS and surrounding schools have begun to see that although the filter blocks most content, it sadly does not catch all the shots thrown at it, leading to the need of teachers to still multitask their regular duties while also keeping students on topic and at attention. Despite ContentKeeper’s claims on the website to have “filtering intelligence, AI and machine learning,” it may still never be able to discern your favorite “unblocked Coolmath Games 77” website from sources you need for your assignments.

Many teachers and students alike are not happy with their current district-issued choices, leaving much to be considered about what may be done instead to promote healthy and attentive classroom working environments.