Videoconferencing Security: Here’s How Teachers and Students Can Keep Meetings Private and Safe
In recent months, the pandemic has driven work and education to go online. Having the right privacy protection and data security in place can help educators and students mitigate the risks of online hacking and other cyber threats while engaging in remote learning.
The education sector is just one of many that have been affected by the pandemic, but this may not all be entirely bad. “The education world has been turned upside down,” said Paul Bennett, Halifax Education Consultant. Schools and educators have been forced to turn to online tools to complete the remainder of the academic year. For a long time, online learning was considered only as a supplement to regular in-class learning. With this sudden shift, online has become the main avenue for learning, and experts see that it is here to stay even after the pandemic. “People now will pay much more attention to it as they will experience its power,” said Marina Milner-Bolotin, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Education.
A challenge that surfaced is that moving online may pose dangers for both the teachers and students. Children and young people particularly, are at risk of encountering cyberbullying, being exposed to inappropriate content, or being taken advantage of by unscrupulous online predators. The sudden shift didn’t give the educators time to fully assess such concerns and put in place a plan to implement online learning with the necessary safety measures. What can be envisioned is replicating the school experience in a physical campus – from the procedures and conduct, to professional boundaries, to reporting and referral procedures. This is possible with the use of advanced tools and platforms that can support a secure online learning environment.
US schools have banned the use of Zoom for conducting online lessons during coronavirus lockdown. According to Danielle Filson, spokesperson for the NYC Education Department, a safe and secure remote learning experience is their top priority for students so they highly recommend the use of Microsoft Teams because of its robust security measures.
Microsoft Teams has gone out of its way to offer a safe online learning environment while enabling teachers and students the benefits of being in collaborative classrooms. “You decide who from outside your organization can join your meetings directly, and who should wait in the lobby for someone to let them in,” Microsoft says. Educators and teachers also have control over attendees and ‘presenters’ of content in order to promote peace and order during virtual meetings.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Office 365 has been offered as a free version for all educational institutions. This means that IT professionals in schools and universities with no paid Teams license need only contact a Microsoft partner to help them access the Office 365 E1 plan – at zero cost for six months.
Since school districts in many countries have moved away from Zoom for falsely saying they use end-to-end encryption, here’s how you can maximize the features of Microsoft Teams to keep your online classes free from cyber threats and other security issues:
- Designate one videoconferencing platform for all virtual meetings.
Ask a Microsoft partner to provide a contract which outlines restrictions on which information can and cannot be collected or shared when Teams is being used for online classes. Staff members and teachers must help students set up their personal accounts to ensure that everyone can access it.
- Establish a school-wide regulation for teacher-student interaction.
This is a way to regulate videoconferences and to assure parents/guardians that student safety and privacy are not compromised in any way. Details such as duration of time per online class, proper attire during virtual meetings, the need for recording conversations or submission of personal information – all these things must be written down and properly communicated to all parties involved.
- Exercise full control over all student-attendees.
To prevent an outsider from breaking into an ongoing Teams meeting, change the meeting policy from “Automatically admit people” to “Everyone in your organization and federated organizations” or manage who can bypass the lobby setting by turning it off.There are also Teams policies that can help prevent students from scheduling private calls or meetings, remove inappropriate conversations in a virtual classroom, or restrict content that can be shared or downloaded.
As the use of remote communication and collaboration platforms continues to increase during the COVID19 crisis, learning institutions and educational practitioners need to consider how to configure the applications used by their respective organizations and maximize its security features to prevent exposing students to online threats. Microsoft Teams offers the best videoconferencing security that will keep cybercriminals out of virtual classes and ensure students’ privacy remains private.
Want to set up Teams for your school district? Speak to a Microsoft partner about Office 365 for Education.