Keeping virtual classrooms safe online

How to make sure your online classes are safe and secure

Using laptop at home

The following page offers hints and tips when using video conferencing apps like Zoom. Please be aware, that Zoom is intended for business use by people over 16 years old. To use Zoom in your school with children aged between 13 – 16, you must subscribe to their Education Plan. If you are using another video service, be sure to check their policies as well before using with your students.

Since schools around the country have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, many teachers have been looking at innovative ways to allow them to keep teaching to their students while everyone is staying at home. This has helped keep a sense of structure to children’s days, allowing them to keep in contact with their teachers and class mates, and most importantly, carry on their studies to as close to normal as we can expect at the present time.

However, as the popularity of video conferencing has risen in schools, so has concern for how secure the services are, especially when used in educational settings.

It’s vital as educators to keep pupils and staff safe online, so it’s prudent to know what security settings are available and how to use them. You may not have heard of it a month ago, but since schools have been closed around the UK, Zoom has grown to become a very popular online video conferencing service.

We’ve put together a list of what you should consider when hosting a Zoom meeting. Other similar services are available, most of which offer similar settings.

  • Lock your classroom
    If your class has started and all your pupils have arrived, you can lock your classroom, so that no one else can join.
  • Virtual waiting rooms
    A great feature, which since 31 March will be set automatically as on, is to use the virtual waiting room. This feature of Zoom lets people who want to join your class to be held in a virtual waiting room before being let into the classroom. This allows you to check who each person is before allowing them entry. There’s also a setting to allow known students to skip the waiting room, so you don’t have to manually allow 30 pupils every time!
  • Screen sharing
    Make sure your pupils don’t take control of the screen and prevent them from sharing random content by limiting screen sharing, so only you as the teacher (host) can present to the class.
  • Private messaging
    Prevent distractions amongst your class by stopping private messaging between pupils, so they can’t talk to one another without your knowledge.

Zoom have published a blog post listing these, and other useful security features, including requiring registration, using random meeting IDs and how to password protect your classroom.

Further resources

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