This page will go over the best practice for using Lightspeed Relay's Default and Video Rules. Including how to use the Dynamic Database Lookup, when to use the Custom Allow/Block list, and how to recategorize a website. Information on this page is either directly from Lightspeed's help articles or has been told to NWOCA from a Lightspeed representative. Source articles are listed at the bottom of this page or linked throughout.
Note - These are best practices when using Smart Play, if you are using Force Restricted Mode please read this article to learn more: Video Rules.
If your students can access YouTube and are seeing some videos blocked as below, Smart Play is at work.
Smart Play uses a machine-learning AI database engine to accurately categorize YouTube videos. They have categorized millions of videos including all of the top education channels like Khan Academy, Discovery, Brightstorm, and CrashCourse. Videos can be allowed or blocked based on the same category decisions made for other content. So students can research and browse on YouTube like normal behavior, and it’s safe. Furthermore, whether they’re on YouTube.com or another site with those videos embedded, educational videos will be accessible.
Dynamic Database Lookup (Archive Site)
Smart Play has 3 categories:
1. Mature – Known Mature videos (Always blocked)
2. Educational.Videos – Known Educational Videos (Always allowed)
3. Uncategorized – Unknown Videos we have not yet scanned (Can be toggled allowed or blocked)
If a video is uncategorized then the expectation is to submit that video URL to the archive.lightspeedsystems.com page. This will let the Database team know and they will scan the video to categorize it accordingly. Once completed, your Relay database will update to match what Lightspeed has determined. Also, please understand this doesn’t mean Lightspeed will automatically allow it. If they categorize the video as mature you will still need to add it to the Custom Allow List to override the category.
Checking a Video using the Dynamic Database Lookup
- To check a video in the Dynamic Database Lookup go to https://archive.lightspeedsystems.com/ and enter the full URL.
- If it’s in the education. videos category, the video is already allowed in Relay.
- If the video is categorized as unknown or mature enter your email address and the reason you would like the video to be reviewed. Once submitted you will receive an email acknowledging your review request followed by the result of the review. Anyone is able to use the Dynamic Database Lookup to check and request Lightspeed to review a URL. Meaning that Teachers can check and request videos be reviewed without having to involve their IT department.
Video Rules - Custom Allow/Block List
There is a 100 video limit per group for the Custom Allow/Block Video List, this is intended as all videos should be submitted to Lightspeed’s Database team for review. The main use of the custom lists is to override the categories Lightspeed has assigned. A secondary function the list can serve is as a temporary allow/block while waiting for Lightspeed to review the content. Once it has been reviewed, the URL should then be removed from the custom list unless it goes against what the district wants.
It is recommended to whitelist channels instead of individual videos, that way you can target more than just one video. Additionally, districts can create and whitelist their own school YouTube channel. This way content created by their teachers can be uploaded to the school's channel and will automatically be allowed. A suggestion to keep content organized is to separate videos into playlists named after a teacher or class.
The same recommendation applies to blacklisting channels instead of individual videos.
As with Video Rules, the best method to filter sites is to recategorize them rather than adding them to the Custom Allow/Block list. The benefit of using categories versus simply adding sites to an allowed list is you can add multiple websites and then turn them on and off per group. Additionally, categories do not have entry limitations so you can recategorize an unlimited amount of domains. To recategorize a site you can either change it to a different prebuilt category or set it to a custom one.
Recategorizing a Website
There are two ways to change a site's category, either from the Default Rules Site Check or by using the View Domains option on a category.
Default Rules Site Check
- To check how a site is categorized go to Default Rules, enter a URL in the search bar, then select Check.
- Next, select the Pen icon to edit the category.
- In the popup, select the desired prebuilt or custom category, enter an optional note, and select Save.
- To recategorize a site or multiple sites at one time click the gear icon to the right of your intended category, then click View Domains.
- Click the plus button to add a site or the import button to add multiple sites.
- In the popup, enter the site's domain, an optional note, and select Save or choose your file, and select Import. (Note that domains cannot include special characters)
Differentiate Categories by Group
Just like the prebuilt categories, custom categories can be toggled differently depending on which group you are modifying. Below are examples of categories and how they work in different groups. Please take note of the group location in the top lefthand corner of each screenshot. Depending on the group the categories may be toggled on or off to best suit different filtering needs.
- Home/Default Group - The most restrictive group and where all sub-groups inherit their policies from.
- Staff Group - This is where Teachers and Staff are located so more of the custom categories have been manually allowed. Admin Allow is blocked because it was inherited from Home.
- Administrators Group - All categories except for Block All have been allowed because members of this group should have access to all allowed sites.
In addition to the prebuilt categories that are in Relay, you can create your own custom categories. Creating your own categories allows you to custom categorize websites and URLs.
Example: Pinterest is categorized by default into the Mature category (this is due to the lack of controls available within Pinterest to restrict the mature content on the site). You can create a custom category called Allowed Social Media and place Pinterest into the category. You can then also recategorize Twitter, placing it into your new Allowed Social Media category. Now that you have two sites in the category you can easily allow or block this category for different groups.
For more information on how to create a Custom Category please read this article: Custom Categories.
Default Rules - Custom Allow/Block List
There is a 500 entry limit for the Custom Allow/Block List per Group/OU. To stay under the limit, use the lists for specific URLs and not entire websites whenever possible. For example, if you want users to be able to access a specific page on Facebook, but not the entire site you should enter in the full URL for that page instead of "*facebook.com*". This also works for certain sections of sites. Continuing with Facebook, let's say that The Virtual Art Room's videos need to be allowed, but not all of Facebook. To do this, enter the video selection URL surrounded by wildcards. This will allow all the videos from The Virtual Artroom's Facebook page.
The Custom Block List works in a similar matter, if you want to block an entire site it is best to recategorize it to a category that is already blocked. If there is a specific page or section of a site you want to block you can add those specific URLs to it.
Custom Allow List Examples:
Section of a site: *facebook.com/thevirtualartroom/videos/*
Specific URL: *facebook.com/thevirtualartroom/videos/1371201176544670/*
Please note these examples will only allow the page/section. There could be assets running in the background that may also need unblocked.