How Classwize Rules Work

This article is for teachers.

With Classwize Rules you can give your students access to sites, apps, and online content that your school’s internet filter normally blocks, or block things that your school normally allows.

To effectively use Rules, you need to understand four key ideas:

Rule order

When a student tries to open a website, Classwize asks a series of questions to decide if the student should or should not have access to it. It asks the same questions in the same order every time, and it stops asking questions as soon as it gets a Yes.

TIP: The default setting is Allowed
The default setting is to allow access. If your school has no Policy which blocks a site or content, then your students can access it.

Question 1: Is it Locked?

Classwize will check if there is a Locked Policy for the resource. If the answer is yes, it enforces the Lock. The Lock always wins, no matter what other rules might apply, so a site in a Locked Blocked Signature is always blocked and a site in a Locked Allowed Signature is always allowed.
If the answer is no, Classwize moves onto the next question.

Question 2: Is there a Bypass Code?

The second check made by Classwize is to see if the student is using a Bypass Code. If the answer is yes students can access the site, unless the site is also in a Locked Blocked Signature. A Bypass code won't beat a Locked Blocked Signature, but it will beat any other Block Rule.

If the answer is no, Classwize moves onto the next question.

Question 3: Is the internet Paused?

The third check made by Classwize is to see if you have enabled a Pause Internet for the student or the class that they're in. If the answer is yes, the student can't access any sites that aren't Locked-Allowed without a Bypass code.

If the answer is no, Classwize moves onto the next question.

NOTE
If you Pause internet for a single student it won't affect any other students. However, if you Pause internet for the whole class, it will stop browsing for any student who doesn't have a Bypass Code.

Question 4: Is there an active Focus session?

If the answer is yes, Classwize checks to see if the site the student wants to access is a Focus site. If it is a Focus site, the student can access it. If it is not a Focus site, the site is blocked.

If the answer is no, Classwize moves onto the next question.

Question 5: Is there a Reward session?

If Classwize hasn't found any special Locked, Bypass, Focus or Pause rules, it checks to see if there's an active Reward access for the site. If there is, the student can access the site.

If the answer is no, Classwize moves onto the next question.

Question 6: Is there a Block Rule?

Finally, Classwize asks if there are any other Block rules. If the answer is yes, the site is blocked. If the answer is no, the site is allowed.

Classwize Rules Workflow v2.0.png

Signatures

What are Signatures?

Signatures form the basis for allowing or filtering traffic within the school network. Signatures can contain websites, applications, games, search keywords, IP addresses, ports and groups of websites. 

These are the types of Signatures you’re most likely to see when managing your class:

Website signatures

Website signatures refer to website domains and subdomains. A domain is a website’s name and is what follows the “@” in an email address. It comes with an extension, such as “.com”, “.net”, “.org” and others in a URL.

DOMAN-SUBDOMAIN.png

This means that if you make a rule using a Website Signature, it will apply to all of the individual pages in that website. For example, setting an Allow rule for the Google Signature will let the students access images.google.com, docs.google.com, drive.google.com and similar pages under the google.com domain. Blocking the Google Website Signature will stop students from accessing any Google page.

You can also add Classwize rules for desktop versions of website signatures. For example, adding a Blocked rule for the signature Spotify will block both the Spotify Web Player and the Spotify app for Windows devices.

NOTE
Rules for desktop versions of website signatures are only available to Connect for Windows.

Application signatures

Application Signatures refer to desktop applications. Also called App Controls, this signature currently supports Windows-only applications, such as Notepad, Paint, and Windows Media Player, as well as Windows versions of the most common computer apps, such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Reader. Check our list of Windows applications included in App Controls.

Rules created for this signature only apply to the apps on Windows devices and not their website versions. For example, a Blocked Rule for Microsoft Word will stop students from opening Word on their Windows devices, but not from opening Word on Office.com.

Group signatures

Most websites need other websites in order to work properly. With very popular websites, we’ll create one Signature that includes both the website and all of the other sites it needs to work, such as embedded content and applications. We call these Group Signatures. Group Signatures let you create an Allowed rule on a site without worrying that some of its components won’t work.

A good example is the Mathletics group signature. If you created a rule that only Allowed the mathletics.com website, it might not work correctly. This is because mathletics.com uses content and services provided by two other websites: 3plearning.com and spellodrome.com. These websites can be blocked individually by your school. While you could create rules that allow those websites, it’s easier to use the Mathletics signature to allow (or block) all three at once.

Themes and Categories

We classify each website into Themes and let you create rules that apply to every single resource in that theme. For example, websites and apps such as Facebook, Tiktok and Twitch all belong in the Social Media theme. By blocking (or allowing) access to Social Media, you can stop your students from accessing all sites and apps that belong in this theme.

Categories

Themes can also contain Categories. For example, a very broad theme called Arts and Entertainment contains several Categories: Animation and Manga, Celebrities and Entertainment, Music and Audio, Sports, and Streaming Media. Each of these categories contain Signatures.

You can create rules on themes and categories, as well as individual signatures. A rule that applies to a theme will also apply to its categories, as well as all the signatures under each category.

While a rule is in place for a theme, you can’t add a different rule for its categories or signatures. You can only exempt a category or a signature by adding its rule first. See Rules Validation Overview for more information on how Classwize checks if new rules are valid.

Game signatures

We’re not saying it’s hard to stop kids from playing Among Us, but… it’s hard to stop kids from playing Among Us. Or Fortnite, or Roblox or whatever other game is the current flavor of the month. There are often multiple ways to access these games, and so we create specialized Game Signatures that let you Block—or Allow— those games everywhere they can be played.

TIP: Using Classwize Reporting Tools helps you create better Rules
Students are very resourceful, especially with game unblockers. If you think you have students who are using a game unblocker, you can create a Screenshot History report to save the screenshots and URLs of these unblockers and forward them to your school’s IT support for further investigation.

FAQ

Can I exempt a category from the rule for its theme?

Yes, by adding the rule for the category first. If there’s an existing rule for the theme, delete that rule and then add the rule for the category. For example, if you want to allow the category, Music and Audio while blocking its broader theme, Arts and Entertainment:

  1. Delete the Blocked rule for Arts and Entertainment.
  2. Add an Allowed rule for Music and Audio.
  3. Add the Blocked rule for Arts and Entertainment.

Your students will be able to access the signatures under the Music and Audio category, but not the signatures under Streaming Media or Sports. 

Similarly, you can exempt a signature from the rule that applies to its category. To exempt a signature, you must add its rule first before adding the rule for its category.

Can I restore the rules for themes or categories?

You can restore the rules you’ve just deleted by adding them again. Restored rules will apply to all categories and signatures within the theme but not to the ones you’ve exempted.

 

School policies and class rules

What is a Policy?

Your school or district maintains a central set of filtering rules in a separate tool called School Manager. We call rules in this central set Policies. Policies always apply to your students unless you create rules for your classes or students in Classwize. 

There are four types of Policies:

1. Locked Allowed

Your school always lets students access this resource (Theme, Category, Signature, URL, or application). Other policies and Classwize rules that try to block it won’t work. Classwize will tell you if you try to create a rule that contradicts a Locked Allowed policy. See Rules Validation Overview for more information about how Classwize checks for conflicting rules. 

2. Locked Blocked

Your school never lets students access this resource. Other policies and Classwize rules that try to allow it won’t work.  Classwize will tell you if you try to create a rule that contradicts a Locked Blocked rule. See Rule Validation Overview for more information about how Classwize checks for conflicting rules.

3. Allowed

Your school normally lets students access this resource. You can use Classwize to create rules that block these resources (including Windows applications) during your class.

4. Blocked

Your school doesn’t normally let students access this resource. You can use Classwize to create rules that allow these resources during your class.

What is a Rule?

Classwize lets you make Rules that override school Policies. These Rules apply on a class-by-class or student-by-student basis. There are two types of Rules:

1. Blocked

Your student(s) can't access these resources during your class, even if your school normally allows it (unless it is Locked Allowed).

2. Allowed

Your student(s) can access these resources during your class, even if your school normally blocks them (unless it is Locked Blocked). 

A Rule you created for a class or student will apply only to that class or student, and only while the class is in session. See Adding, Editing and Removing Classwize Rules for more information on adding and managing Rules for your classes. 

Why can’t I add Allowed rules?

If you can only add Blocked Rules in Classwize, your school may have enabled “Block Rules Only” Mode. This feature disables Allowed rules in Classwize and only lets you create Blocked rules. If you still need to create Allowed rules for your Classwize classes or students, contact your school’s IT support.

Rule Order

When a student tries to open a website, Classwize asks a series of questions to decide if the student should or should not have access to it. It asks the same questions in the same order every time, and it stops asking questions as soon as it gets a Yes.

rule-order-flowchart.png

Save a copy of this workflow.

TIP: The default setting is Allowed

The default setting is to allow access. If your school has no Global Rule that blocks a site or content, then your students can access it.

Question 1: Is it Locked?

Classwize will ask the Global Rules if the site is in a Locked Signature. If the answer is yes, it enforces the Lock. The Lock always wins, no matter what other rules might apply, so a site in a Locked Blocked Signature is always blocked, and a site in a Locked Allowed Signature is always allowed.

If the answer is no, Classwize moves on to the next question.

Question 2: Is there a Bypass code?

The second check Classwize makes is to see if the student uses a Bypass code. If the answer is yes, they can access the site, unless it is also in a Locked Blocked Signature. A Bypass code won't beat a Locked Blocked Signature but will beat any other Block Rule.

If the answer is no, Classwize moves on to the next question.

Question 3: Is the internet Paused?

The third check made by Classwize is to see if you have enabled a Pause Internet for the student or the class they're in. If the answer is yes, the student can't access any sites that aren't Locked Allowed without a Bypass code.

If the answer is no, Classwize moves on to the next question.

NOTE

If you Pause internet for a single student, it won't affect any other students. However, if you Pause the internet for the whole class, it will stop browsing for any student who doesn't have a Bypass Code.

Question 4: Is there an active Focus site?

If the answer is yes, Classwize checks to see if the site the student wants to access is the Focus site. If it is the Focus site, the student can access it. If it is not the Focus site, the site is blocked.

If the answer is no, Classwize moves on to the next question.

Question 5: Is there an Allow or a Reward Classwize Rule?

If Classwize hasn't found any special Locked, Bypass, Focus, or Pause rules, it checks to see if there's an Allow or Reward Classwize Rule. If there is, the student can access the site.

If the answer is no, Classwize moves on to the next question.

WARNING

If you have set a whole class Allow Rule on a Signature, you cannot set a Block Rule on the same Signature for a single student. The same is true if you create an Allow Rule on a Theme and a Block rule on one of its Child Signatures—the Allow rule will take precedence.

Question 6: Is there a Classwize Block Rule or Global Block Rule?

Finally, Classwize asks if there are any other Block rules. If the answer is yes, the site is blocked. If the answer is no, the site is allowed.

Troubleshooting and Frequently Asked Questions

See Classwize Rules FAQ.

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