Technology Tip: Enhancing online safety – Avoiding URL shorteners for students

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The following article was submitted by Sharyn Merrigan, instructional technology specialist and teacher-librarian liaison

Most all of us have, at one time or another, used or received links in the form of TinyURL,, or another abbreviated web address. While these tools are available for staff use, the Olympia School District blocks the use of URL shorteners for students through our web filtering service.

URL shorteners may seem handy, but they can inadvertently expose our students to potential risks. The problem lies in the fact that they hide the actual destination of the link, making it challenging to assess its safety and legitimacy. We want to ensure that our students are shielded from inappropriate content or malicious websites.

Moreover, URL shorteners have been used by students to bypass our district’s web filtering and monitoring systems. URL shorteners change what the destination looks like in our systems, preventing the district from determining what websites have been visited. These filtering systems are in place to protect our students from harmful online material. Blocking URL shorteners creates a safer browsing experience for our learners and prevents circumnavigation of our district internet policies.

Long links are unavoidable in the internet age. By utilizing tools like Schoology or Securly Classroom to share links instead of URL shorteners, we ensure that the content is filtered and secure. Schoology allows you to share links easily with your students in a variety of materials, including Updates, Pages, and File/Link/External Tool. Securly Classroom may also be used to push links out to students, opening the page automatically on their school Chromebooks in real time.

If you have any questions or would like assistance using these tools, please reach out to the Instructional Technology Specialist Team or the OSD Technology Helpdesk.