Expert speak Education

Secure the classrooms

Online learning, digital classrooms, and virtual collaborations are phrases we have come to associate with education in a pandemic setting. In a post-pandemic world, as educational institutions look to reopen, classrooms will transition into hybrid learning, without completely giving up on online classes.

Since, both educators and students have seen the benefits that online learning can offer, learning-communication platforms will continue to find relevance in education. As they continue to innovate and make the platforms more conducive for learning, it is also equally important that they address the new challenges that they bring with them — of security.

Velchamy Sankarlingam, President, Product and Engineering, Zoom, shares his tips for keeping the virtual classroom secure.

Why is security an important issue?

Security in a virtual world is as important as in the real world. To protect student privacy and maintain participant control, it is essential for virtual platforms to have security features from signing-in to logging out. A virtual platform should be managed the same way we run a physical classroom. People need permission to enter/exit, speak in the class, and the like. Similarly, virtual platforms have waiting rooms and controls for the teachers to manage their classes efficiently and securely.

There need to be controls to safeguard against unwanted incidents of disruption. Meeting disruptors search the Internet for publicly posted meeting IDs and passwords. So, it is important to avoid sharing meeting details on public platforms; or to change meeting IDs if the details have been shared publicly.

While choosing a platform for online teaching/meeting, what are the features one needs to check for?

Seamless and secure user experience. A platform must mandate waiting rooms and meeting passwords as default settings to ensure that user safety is not compromised. Other features like locking the meeting, E2E encrypted calls, host controls, and more enhance user experience. It is advantageous if the platform can seamlessly integrate with Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Moodle, Canvas, Desire2Learn, Sakai, and Blackboard.

How can online learning platforms be used optimally to enhance learning outcomes?

With virtual and hybrid classrooms, micro-learning, education institutes can see increased student participation and learning retention. A hybrid class brings the benefits of blended learning, where educational institutes can utilise already available resources and hardware to expand capabilities and educational offerings.

What is the future you foresee for online learning platforms?

For us, the future is hybrid. We will see continued usage across sectors and industries. Employers have realised that employees are more productive and motivated. There is a clear visible trend of frequent events being held on digital platforms. Businesses have become faster and smarter. As we inch closer to a post-pandemic world, this need for agility will only increase.

Security tips for online classes:

Lock your virtual classroom once class starts so no one else can enter.

Ensure that all new participants joining a meeting enter the Waiting Room (where you can admit them on an individual basis).

Enable or disable participants from sharing their screens.

Disable the chat feature to prevent participants from chatting with each other.

Prevent participants from renaming themselves.

Prevent participants from unmuting themselves.

Restrict annotation to prevent students from annotating on shared content or show the names of individuals annotating.

Disable “Join before host” so students can’t join a meeting before you start it.

Require a meeting passcode to join.

Disable screen sharing for users (participants must ask for permission to share).

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 11:07:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/in-an-e-learning-ecosystem-security-needs-to-be-addressed-constantly/article33537111.ece

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