Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Block Gadgets from Sites in Google Apps for Education

This is a question that comes up quite often when looking at Google Apps for Education:


How do I block students from adding gadgets in Sites in Google Apps?


The FAQ and Google Code Resources that answer this question makes it seem pretty simple, and it is, once you know the step by step instructions.


First of all there are 2 main options of blocking gadgets in sites or on iGoogle pages:

  1. Blacklist Gadgets One at a Time: 
    • I would only use this option for a domain that is for staff or adults only where I have a particular person complaining about a specific gadget
  2. Blacklist everything and then Whitelist Gagets One at a Time: 
    • I would use this option if you want to protect students from any possible inappropriate gadget
Either Option Starts out by creating a simple interface in a Google Site for Whitelisting and Blacklisting.

Step 1: Sign into Google Sites with an account that is an Administrator of Google Apps for Education and create a new site. 

Step 2: Name the site and make sure only specified people can view it 


Step 3: Edit the page and go to Insert then More Gadgets and select Add Gadget by URL
  • In the box that appears add this URL http://google-feedserver.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/resources/gadgets/domain-gadget-directory-manager/spec.xml





  • Change the size of the gadget to be 880 X 800


  • Click OK and then Save the changes to the page
You will then have an application on the page that allows you to Blacklist or Whitelist applications and see the directory. 



Now you are ready to execute the steps to Blacklist Gadgets one-by-one

Option 1: Blacklist Gadgets 1 by 1.

Once you have installed the gadget application above you will see this on the page you created














You can search by keyword (gadget name, category, or url) and find the gadget you would like to blacklist. Click Add to blacklist the gadget. It may take a few hours for the item to be blacklisted. 

To whitelist a gadget and get it back in the directory click remove next to the blacklisted item












Option 2: Blacklist Everything and Whitelist Gadgets 1 by 1

Step 1: Follow the instructions above to set up a page with the Domain Directory Gadget Manager

Step 2: Download the Feed Server Client Tool (FSCT) which is this file to your computer (windows or linux only - my instructions are for windows)





Step 3: Unzip the file and put in in your C: drive root










Step 4: Open the cmd prompt (cmd.exe) and type cd c:\fsct













Step 5: Type "fsct shell" and enter the username and password of an administratior of the GAFE account










Step 6: Type: "setpublicgadgetdirfilter BLACK_LIST" and hit enter. You will get back a response that your site feed has been updated.






Step 7: Unblock your Domain Directory Gadget Manager (not sure if this has to be done, but just making sure it remains open) by typing: "addwhitelistedgadget http://google-feedserver.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/resources/gadgets/domain-gadget-directory-manager/spec.xml"








You have now blacklisted all gadgets and have a tool to whitelist back the ones you want students or staff to use.

Whitelisting Gadgets after Everything is Blacklisted

Go back to the site page you made with the Domain Directory Gadget Manager













You can search by keyword (gadget name, category, or url) and find the gadget you would like to whitelist. Click Add to whitelist the gadget. It may take a few hours for the item to be whitelisted. 

To blacklist a gadget and get it back in the directory click remove next to the whitelisted item


Although it would be nice to have these features native in the GAFE control panel, Google does provide resources fro protecting our kids from inappropriate gadgets. It should only take about an hour to set this up the first time. After that you have created your own control panel for blacklisting or whitelisting Google Gadgets in Google Sites.



Do you want to learn more about Administering Google Apps for Education, or would you like to send your Teachers to a week of "Google Camp"? See what we are offering in our district this summer for professional development around GAFE here: https://sites.google.com/a/maine207.org/play/areas-of-study/google

1 comments:

Trinity Librarians said...

Hank,
I really look forward to your posts because they always seem to arrive just when I'm dealing with a similar problem!
Thanks!
SueT