Video conferencing for teachers and educators is the new way of the world.
Teachers, school staff and parent associations are showing incredible agility: adopting video conferencing tools overnight to keep in touch with pupils and families. There are a range of video conferencing tools available with many having free options. The two platforms that are most popular with our members are Zoom and Houseparty.
With the convenience of these tools also comes some concerns. Both Zoom and Houseparty are coming under widespread criticism around the world, particularly in the past few days, about their privacy policies and some potentially serious security breaches. Not only do these apps collect huge amounts of data for their own purposes they give hosts a lot of information about their participants. To ensure that adequate safeguarding occurs, we set out some tips to keep in mind when hosting video conferences.
Video conferencing: Zoom
Generously, on 25th March Zoom, arguably one of the world’s most successful video conferencing platforms, announced the temporary lifting of the 40-minute meeting limit on free basic accounts in many countries including the UK, Canada and Germany. The free account allows teachers up to 100 participants, screen sharing, break out rooms and local recording.
Clearly there are benefits for a host to record a video, audio or text and track when participants are paying attention or have wandered off. Zoom is actively promoting this feature to educators, “its a good way to monitor which of your students is slacking off“. Although these features are part of the default settings the monitoring of attention may be considered by parents to be overly intrusive particularly when minors are involved.
A major flaw with Zoom is that by default, anyone can join calls. Hence the trend of ‘zoombombing’ with uninvited guests appearing in a conference session.
Tips when hosting:
- To limit access to only the people invited, under settings, go to ‘screen sharing’ and under the ‘who can share?’ click ‘host only’ before saving settings.
- Watermark all content.
- Suggest to participants that they use a unique email alias for Zoom and clear their cookies after each call. This is so your participants aren’t giving away their location and unique ID to the likes of Facebook. This data lets companies send you and your participants targeted ads. Even when the user didn’t have a Facebook account.
- Don’t say anything on a Zoom call you aren’t happy for Zoom to data mine and use for commercial benefit.
Video conferencing: Houseparty
Houseparty another popular video conferencing tool, enables informal chats without the need to make prior arrangements. This makes it easy for individuals not known to the host to join into a conversation. Cyber bullying is another concern being raised by charities protecting children on the internet. In Houseparty’s terms and conditions data is used for commercial purposes and transferred to the United States. This means personal data is not protected by GDPR.
Tips when hosting:
- Generally not recommended by internet safety organisations as appropriate for participants under the age of 16
- Check your settings don’t allow friends of friends to join in.
For more information:
Keep connected and safe
The Classlist Team