November 8, 2021
Digital Arts Inc.
GIGA School Device Usage Case Study of Gunma Prefecture's Shimonita Board of Education
— Tackling new challenges in the use of ICT, active monitoring with advanced filters on Chromebooks —
Information security solutions provider Digital Arts Inc. (headquarters: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan; CEO: Toshio Dogu; hereinafter referred to as “Digital Arts”; Securities Code 2326) is pleased to announce on November 8 it released an introduction case study of the Shimonita Board of Education in Gunma Prefecture, which used the web security cloud service i-FILTER@Cloud GIGA School Edition as a security measure for the one device per student GIGA School Program.
Introducing a Case Study of a Board of Education That Introduced Filtering to Ensure Proper Use of Devices
The GIGA School Program, which aims to provide devices and high-speed internet to every student nationwide, coupled with the increased need for online learning brought on by the pandemic, has led many local governments to fully introduce devices by the end of fiscal 2020. Each municipality continues to promote the use of ICT in schools and investigate the optimal way to operate the program, including how to use devices for learning and usage rules for students.
In the midst of all this, it was found that a tragic incident occurred in September where an elementary school girl in Tokyo committed suicide after being bullied in chat rooms on devices distributed through the GIGA School Program. Children are still in the developmental stages of relationships and communication, and their internet literacy, too, is in its infancy. At this stage, both the issue of whether to allow students to use devices connected to the internet without restriction and the use of GIGA School devices have been highlighted. To prevent such incidents from happening again, is there any way to keep an eye on children's safety and allow them to use their devices safely?
Since April 2020, Digital Arts has been providing the web security cloud service i-FILTER@Cloud GIGA School Edition (hereinafter referred to as i-FILTER@Cloud) so that students can use GIGA School devices safely and teachers and parents can have peace of mind in letting their children use the devices. On November 8, we released a case study of the Shimonita Board of Education in Gunma Prefecture, which began using i-FILTER@Cloud and has been actively tackling ICT education as a town policy even before the GIGA School Program.
Parents and teachers can rest assured knowing students are protected by filters
As a town policy, Shimonita has been actively involved in ICT education even before the GIGA School Program, and has taken on challenges such as holding online classes and offering some off-site learning opportunities during pandemic-related school closures. Speaking on the use of filters in the town, Nobuyasu Sato, Director of the School Education Section at the Shimonita Board of Education, said, "We didn't think filters would be necessary if tablets were only to be used during classes. However, with online classes during the pandemic, we say that we had to improve the systems we had in place. Initially, they used a different company's product, but after an incident in which the filter was removed, teachers voiced their concerns that parents and teachers would not feel safe unless they had a filter that was difficult to remove and had advanced settings. This led to the board introducing i-FILTER@Cloud GIGA School Edition at junior high schools. Sato said, "We've come to see that filters are not simply regulations, but a way to protect our students. We felt that i-FILTER@Cloud GIGA School Edition was actively trying to protect students."A unique way the town is using i-FILTER@Cloud is to give teachers access to device logs. Usually, the Board of Education has the authority to view logs, and if schools have any problems, they contact the Board of Education to have the logs checked. However, Sato says that teachers are also given the ability to view logs as a way to monitor students' device usage. The teachers can monitor students' device use to see if they are accessing dangerous websites, looking at unrelated pages during class, or using devices for long periods of time. If the students are seen to be using their devices inappropriately, the teachers can then talk to them.
As one example, the school and teachers, rather than the board, being able to monitor the length of use and more of Chromebooks means that they are able to better monitor and protect students. In Shimonita, i-FILTER@Cloud's timer restricts the use of devices from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. and displays a warning to students if they use them for longer than five hours.
i-FILTER@Cloud provides advanced settings for YouTube and social media according to purpose and need.
Another basic filtering function is that it uses Whitelisting, which only allows access to URLs that have been confirmed safe by Digital Arts based on i-FILTER@Cloud's recommended filters. In addition, i-FILTER@Cloud can respond flexibly to the growing use of YouTube in schools. Shimonita normally permits the viewing of YouTube, but in consideration of parents' concerns during off-site learning, they have changed to only allow viewing of official MEXT channels that are beneficial for learning. With i-FILTER@Cloud, it's easy to configure settings such as "only allow sites with educational videos." What is more interesting about Shimonita's use of technology is that instead of banning social media altogether, the town uses i-FILTER@Cloud to allow students to use them for "browsing only." Sato told us, "There come a lot of concerns with social media, so we often prohibit them, but with i-FILTER@Cloud, we are able to use advanced settings such as "browsing only.' It's become a good opportunity for us to think about our involvement in social media."
i-FILTER@Cloud creates a safe environment where teachers can take on new challenges with peace of mind and without fear of making small mistakes.
The town of Shimonita has been emphasizing the daily use of tablets by students as tools for learning. According to Sato, technology is being used in a lot of areas and most teachers use it daily. In addition to classes, Google Classroom is used to communicate about club activities, and gatherings such as graduation ceremonies and parent-teacher conferences are also being held online. In the future, the town hopes to utilize Google Sites, which allows students to easily create websites, to work on learning portfolios where junior high school students can show off their achievements. In this way, Shimonita continues to tackle the challenges that come with utilizing ICT in the classroom. However, Sato encourages teachers to take on these challenges without being afraid of failing.
■The full case study of the Shimonita Board of Education in Gunma Prefecture can be found here
Digital Arts "i-FILTER@Cloud" GIGA School Edition Special Lineup
In addition to "post controls" and "web service controls," which prohibit posts related to cyberbullying, our system is also equipped with a "Child Protection System."
Digital Arts' web security cloud service i-FILTER@Cloud GIGA School Edition is a filtering service for schools that has been improved to enable the use of the GIGA School Concept's one device per student initiative and allow safe and smooth learning in educational settings. Based on i-FILTER's filter database, which has the No.1 share in the domestic market*, detailed filtering rules can be made to meet the learning environment's needs.
In addition, all three operating systems recommended by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in its GIGA School Concept can use the "post controls" function, which controls the posting of messages by students on hidden message boards and social media websites, and the uploading of photos taken with the device's built-in camera. This will prevent children and students from using the devices for private use, using them for purposes unrelated to learning, and writing messages that could lead to bullying. In addition, "Web Service Controls" controls functions such as login, writing, uploading, and downloading for each web service, and the "Child Protection System" blocks students' access to suicide-related websites from their own devices using i-FILTER@Cloud and alerts designated teachers and staff or the Board of Education by e-mail. These functions help support educational settings to keep an eye on children's safety and find distressed students as soon as possible.
i-FILTER@Cloud GIGA School Edition
*Fuji Chimera Research Institute, Inc. "2020 Network Security Business Survey General Guide" Web Filtering Tool Market Share (FY2019) (Published November 2020)
- Digital Arts Inc. Overview
- Digital Arts Inc. is an information security solution provider focused on the development and sales of security software for web, e-mail, files and other uses.
Since its founding in 1995, the company philosophy has been "Contributing to a safer, better, more convenient internet lifestyle" and since developing web-filtering software to prevent the browsing of harmful information on the internet, the company has been promoting internet security products to companies, the public sector and homes everywhere.
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