CensorNet Pro Web filtering proxy now supports YouTube In Schools
13 December 2011
Following the launch of YouTube In Schools, a school friendly version of YouTube, we are pleased to announce support for the service in CensorNet Professional 2.1.4 which is free to all customers.
YouTube has long been a source of contention. Do you allow it because of the masses of educational material or do you block it because there is a similar amount of questionable/distracting/inappropriate videos that you do not want in the classroom? Often the latter has been the case, although there have been some half way measures along the way. Thankfully, with the launch of YouTube in School’s, using YouTube in the classroom just got a lot easier.
There have been a number of half way measures introduced to try and solve the problem. A while ago YouTube themselves implemented a Safe Mode for browsing the YouTube site. This used the video meta data and surrounding keywords to block risky material, but it was by no means the most accurate solution. Searching for terms in different languages, for example, quickly provided a route to inappropriate or distracting content. In parallel, some vendors created their own screening systems for YouTube, which work on the premise that you block the main YouTube web site but allow specific videos. This works for videos that allow embedding (some copyright material prevents it) but it adds a lot of overhead to the school in terms of building their own library of videos from scratch.
But now, the good news – YouTube In Schools was launched yesterday (12th December) and it looks set to be a winner for education. Not only does YouTube provide masses of pre-vetted videos suitable for academia but it also provides a way for staff to maintain their own video libraries and even edit videos themselves. In order to use YouTube In Schools, your proxy server (or network filter) needs to inject a special header into web requests made to YouTube which tells the service that access to the site is coming from a school and to deliver the education version along with the schools’ own content and settings. Don’t worry about the jargon, it’s actually very simple to set up using CensorNet Professional as described in the rest of this article.
Setting up a YouTube In School’s account
Signing up to the service is very simple and only takes a few moments. Click here to visit the sign up page.
Obtaining your custom header
After setting up the account you will be presented with your custom HTTP header. It will look something like this:
The full HTTP header will look like this:
However, you actually only need the part after the colon “:” which is the header value for use with CensorNet Professional, e.g.
Once you have your header value, you can configure CensorNet Professional.
Configuring CensorNet Professional (2.1.4 and above)
To enable the custom header in CensorNet Professional, you should go to the Filters >> Safe Searchoption. You will see the options as below:
Under the YouTube in School’s section, tick the Force YouTube In Schools mode option and enter your custom header value that you obtained above.
Click Set Options. This will cause the proxy to restart. Once restarted, if you visit YouTube you will be presented with the educational version.
Caveats and things to check
You should make sure that you remove any Custom URL entries that may block the YouTube domain or any of its sub-domains, such as:
If when you access YouTube it is still blocked, you may have the Streaming & Downloadable Videocategory set to block in the Content Classifier section of your Policies. It is probably not a good idea to set this to allow, as it will allow all streaming video web sites. Therefore you will need to create a Custom URLcategory which contains the following YouTube URL’s and make sure this category is set to Allow in all of your policies.
Other key points… YouTube In School’s mode works independently to the main Safe Search mode. You can have Safe Search disabled and still enforce YouTube In Education, should you wish, however we don’t recommend this in an educational environment.
Furthermore, YouTube In School’s mode is a global option and applies to all users on the network. At the moment it is not possible to limit YouTube In Schools to specific groups or policies.