What is filtering with Scenes?
Scenes are a feature of GoGuardian Teacher which provide greater control over how your students are using their computers. You can use Scenes to allow or block (filter) your students from accessing specific sites during a live classroom session.
Scenes provide additional functionality besides website filtering. If you are curious about what else Scenes can do for you, such as limiting the number of tabs a student can have open, please read Components of a Scene.
This article will focus on utilizing Scenes to filter websites.
How does it work?
The primary way you may control which sites you would like students to be able to reach is by leveraging an Allow List or Block List.
Creating an Allow List will make it so that students can only access sites that you specify. Allow Lists are restrictive in that students may only reach websites that are added directly to the Allow List.
Allow Lists are perfect for keeping students on task and off of distracting websites.
Creating a Block List will enable students to freely browse websites except for those which you specifically block. Block Lists are unrestrictive in that students will only be prevented from reaching sites that you enter into the list.
Note: GoGuardian Admin policies will still prevent students from accessing inappropriate websites regardless of your Block List settings.
Block Lists are perfect for when your students should be able to browse freely.
How to create an Allow List or Block List
When you first arrive to the Scenes section of GoGuardian Teacher, you’ll immediately see where to begin creating an Allow List or Block List:
Simply click once on Create Allow List or Create Block List to begin.
For both Allow Lists and Block Lists, the next page you’ll see requires you to name your list, as well as optionally add a description for it, and label it with a color of your choosing.
Once you’ve made your selections, hit Next in the top right of the window, and you’ll be taken to where you can begin filtering.
Note: These pages look nearly identical for both Allow Lists and Block Lists. Please double check that you are in the correct list type for what you’re hoping to accomplish.
Once you have added sites to the list, you can click Save in the top right of the window. Your list will be complete. You can always edit a list after it’s made.
Adding sites into an Allow List or Block List for filtering
When you are adding sites (URLs) into an Allow List or Block List, you have a couple options for how you’d like to enter them.
Simple URL or Keyword
The simplest way to allow or block a site is by entering the URL or keyword into this box during the final step of creating an Allow List or Block List:
For example, if you were making an Allow List to restrict student browsing, and wanted to allow students to access Google Classroom, you could type the following into the box and then hit Add Site:
If you also wanted to allow Google Docs, you could add the following:
This will work exactly the same way for a Block List. If you are making a Block List and would like to block a few sites, you’d add those URLs and hit Add Site.
URL with *wildcards*
GoGuardian filtering includes the ability to use what are called wildcards. Wildcards are represented by * (asterisks). A wildcard in a URL means that anything could go in place of where the wildcard exists.
For example, say you added the following to an Allow List:
Having that asterisk/wildcard there would mean that any URL that began with google.com would be allowed. Wildcards are not limited to a single character, they can be any number of letters, numbers, or special characters in that place. In this case, both google.com/images and google.com/maps would be allowed, as well as any other possible URL that comes after google.com.
Wildcards are very useful if you want to allow or block the entirety of something. For another example, if you wanted to block the entirety of Google Sites, you could add the following into a Block List:
This would block any URL which contains sites.google.com at any point in the address.
Single words with *wildcards*
The final type of URL that you could add is not really a URL at all, but rather a word or words surrounded by asterisks. For example, if you wanted to allow every single website that contained the word “education” in it, you could add the following:
Since there are wildcards there, this would allow anything from animaleducation.com to educationalgames.com. This would also allow things like .gov or .net to be included, since .com was never specified.
This is also very useful for blocking. As an example, you could block anything containing the word “game” by entering:
Note: Filtering in this way may cause you to unintentionally allow or block sites, so please be careful. If you’re seeing unintended results, it would be better to use a more specific website entry.
Advanced *wildcard* filtering
Wildcards can be in any section of the URL that you’re entering. Some sites have dynamic URLs which can be frustrating to handle when you’re trying to allow or block something.
For example, each student may have a different URL when they’re taking a test:
ca10.test.gov for one student, and ca13.test.gov for another.
To work around this, you could do the following:
With the wildcard where it is, it would allow any number combination that may be randomly generated by the dynamic URL to work properly.
Advanced Filtering Option
Note: Advanced Filtering has its own article found here: Scenes Advanced Filtering Option
For both Allow Mode Scenes and Block Mode Scenes, it is possible to allow or block entire domains. However, it may be helpful to allow or block an entire domain with the exception of one or two sites. This is where Advanced Filtering will be used.
If a Scene is set to Allow Mode, it means that everything will be blocked except for what is manually allowed. By utilizing Advanced Filtering, it is possible to allow an entire domain but block a few specific sites from that domain.
For example, you can add *google.com* to an Allow Mode Scene which would then allow any Google website. This would include:
- and many more
If there is only one site that should be blocked from all of the Google domain, such as sites.google.com, it can be blocked by creating an exception to your allowance. Click on the Advanced Filtering option, type the exception into the bar, and click Add.
Once it's added, it will be visible in the exceptions window below.
This is a fast way to allow all of Google, but then exclude a specific site.
When all exceptions have been added, click Done, and they will appear on the right-hand side labelled as Advanced Filters.
Using Quick Lists
If you’re making an Allow List or Block List, it may be useful to you to add many sites at once. Fortunately, GoGuardian has Quick Lists which can handle exactly that problem for you. Quick Lists are on the right side of the list creation page.
You can select any of the lists you see, and then choose to Add Lists at the bottom of the page. Each quick list contains several sites as indicated by the parentheses. As you can see, the Copy of Science Quicklist (4) contains four sites. Adding that quick list to your Allow List or Block List will add all four of those sites at once.
This is a great way to expedite your filtering. If you have more questions about these quick lists, please read this Quick Lists article.
Based on your Scene's filtering mode, YouTube videos can be allowed or blocked. But the amount of flexibility with filtering YouTube is currently limited when using a Scene.
Allow List: When your Scene is set to an Allow List, adding a YouTube video URL results in that video being allowed, and everything else on YouTube.com remaining blocked. So, a teacher could use an Allow List and allow individual videos on their own, but only if there are no GoGuardian Admin or Google Admin Console blocks in place.
Block List: When your Scene is set to use a Block List, adding a YouTube video URL results in the video-specific URL block being ignored. Only YouTube.com will be allowed, but all other videos on YouTube will remain blocked.
Ideas on how this feature could be improved? Please submit feedback HERE! Ideas shared here can be upvoted by other users and have resulted in new features being added or changed.