Web Zones are like virtual rooms that teachers can use to temporarily override web filter rules. Web Zones have always been available to teachers via the Lightspeed Web Filter, but they can also be administered directly from Launch.
Here are a few ways you can use Web Zones in the classroom:
- Allow students to watch a video originating from a site that would ordinarily be blocked, for example, Vimeo.com.
- Block all access to the web during a test so students can’t look up the answers online.
- Allow students under 13 years old to access websites that require adult consent and supervision under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
From the Web Zones page, teachers can specify web sites the students in their groups can or cannot access. The Web Zone will be applied automatically to all students in the group for the time you specify — as long as three hours, or as brief as five minutes. The Web Zone will expire automatically, or you can deactivate it manually.
Walk through it. Try the guided test drive of Web Zones inside Launch now.
Navigate to Web Zones in Launch, and you’ll see any class groups assigned to you. If you don’t see any groups, check with your technology administrators. They can create them using data from the student information system. And yes, you’ll have to have a group of students to apply a Web Zone.
1. Click to open a group where you want to use the Web Zone.
2. Click the green + button at the bottom right corner of the page to arrive at this screen.
3.Give it a good descriptive name so you’ll remember why you created it.
4. Add some websites to the Allowed or Blocked lists that will alter students’ normal Internet access privileges once the Zone is activated for their group.
Let’s consider an example. Say you’re teaching a unit on how special effects are produced in movies. You may have five web sites that you would like your fifth graders to use for research, but two of them are blocked by the content filter. Instead of going to your IT staff for help, now you can take matters into your own hands and add the two sites to a Web Zone. Once you activate a Web Zone, the rules will now be applied to every student in the group.
From our example, we’d want to add under the Allowed list the sites that are normally blocked by the content filter. Learn about web-link formatting below, What URL formats are allowed?
Click Save to apply your settings.
Pro Tip: If you want to help your students stay on task, you can select Lockdown (under the Block list). This restricts use of the Internet to only the sites located in the Allowed box.
5. Click Create to save the new Web Zone.
What URL formats are allowed?
- URLs or web links must be in the proper format. Do not include “http://” or “https://” in the URL.
- Wildcards are permitted to allow or block all pages matching the wildcard. in Web Zones, the wildcard character is an asterisk (*) which means “any number or combination of letters.”
- IP addresses may be specified in the list as well as URLs.
- Any site NOT in the web filter’s Pornography or Security categories. Content in those categories will always be blocked, even if a teacher uses “*” to allow all available URLs.
||Allow or block everything on the sample.com domain
||Allow or block everything in a certain directory
|Top Level Domain
||*.info/* or *.ru/*
||Allow or block an entire top-level domain name
||Block unknown proxy servers
|Text within a URL
||Allow or block any URL containing “text” within the string.
||A complete single valid routable internet IP address
Once you’ve created a Launch Web Zone, it’s easy to activate it for five minutes to three hours. And you can deactivate it ahead of schedule if needed. Select a group and the Web Zones you’ve created will display.
Find the Zone you want to activate and select the duration from the drop-down menu. Then click the green play icon to activate a Web Zone.
When a Zone is active, you will see a countdown of the remaining time. To change the remaining time, click the timer to open a dropdown list.
Can I activate more than one Web Zone at a time?
Students can only be in one Web Zone at a time. Only the most recently-activated Web Zone will apply.
How do I turn off (deactivate) a Web Zone?
Web Zones time out automatically when the selected time has elapsed.
Alternatively, click the red stop icon to deactivate a Web Zone at any time. This will immediately restore students to the school’s default web filter policy.
Pro Tip: If students are in a Web Zone activated by another teacher, you can remove them from that Zone by activating one of your own Web Zones. To return them to normal Internet access, create a Web Zone with no restrictions (i.e., nothing in either the blocked or allowed lists) and save it as something like, “Normal Access.” Activate that for a group anytime one or more students need out of another teacher’s Web Zone.
What if the targeted students aren’t in the same group?
While Web Zones created in Launch are ideal for applying Internet-access rules to a pre-defined class group, a couple other scenarios may also be accommodated by your technology administrators.
1) Mix of students working in a defined IP range. IT staff can create fixed Web Zones that will apply to a range of IP addresses and allow teachers to manage all users’ access to Internet content regardless of what groups they belong to, which is especially suitable for a computer lab and similar scenarios.
2) Ad hoc groups. When teachers need to apply Web Zones to ad hoc groupings of students, they can have those students request to join an open Web Zone.
Fixed and open Web Zones are managed differently. See instructions for admins, instructions for teachers.