An educator's guide to secured and safe virtual classrooms
March 11, 2022
This blog is a quick guide for educators and school heads on why cybersecurity should be a top priority for schools and some important safety and security tips to follow in virtual classrooms of 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled us to switch to virtual classrooms, to keep the learning of students uninterrupted. Consequently, the teaching techniques and methods have undergone a major change, leveraging technology.
Children are exposed to devices more than ever before and unfortunately, have become vulnerable to cyber threats. The current generation have the inherent ability to explore and experiment with technology. They are fascinated by the wonders of the web – as to how quickly and easily, they can pull information on any subject under the sun. But, they do not realize the troubles that come along with this power.
Keeping students and sensitive information secure in a virtual learning environment, is a huge responsibility on your shoulders.
Some of the things you can do are:
1. Build a robust security infrastructure
- Lay down and enforce protocols for online conduct.
- Have an IT team monitoring the security on the virtual learning platform used.
- Build a cyber-bullying reporting system that both students and parents can utilize to report incidents, and school heads must do the needful.
- Support a child if there are any unfortunate cases.
2. Educate students and parents about responsible internet usage
Children may not know about what could be the implications of sharing passwords and addresses online – there are several such dangers whose gravity they just don’t understand. As an educator, it is your key role to enable children to use the Internet – and technology in general – in a responsible and safe way.
- Educate students to be alert when they encounter anything suspicious – a message or any link. It could be a potential virus attack.
- Have a casual chat around their favourite websites or what they enjoy doing online. Make necessary comments and interventions.
- Share a handbook with students and parents – on cybersecurity best practices and ideally a gamified education programme
- Explain the impact of posting anything online and the embarrassment it can lead to, if not done thoughtfully.
- Do not allow cameras to be turned off during classes
3. Provide a conducive learning environment
- Make students feel comfortable to open up – to discuss not just study-related issues with you, but personal concerns too. If they confide in you for psychological support, they can overcome difficulties with your guidance.
- They may be anxious, as all this is new to them too, so be patient and enable them to grow with these changes.
- Communicate with parents regularly so that they can reach out to you easily, in case they observe abnormal behaviour in children or need to discuss any other concerns related to the child.
4. Share online learning materials cautiously
- Use downloaded files for content, and avoid sharing links to websites, especially for junior grades. Try and embed videos, pdfs etc in your learning platform itself.
- Provide a list of age-appropriate websites, for research, projects etc. Some websites like YouTube etc have – inappropriate content, so you need to be very particular while incorporating online materials in lesson plans.
- Talk to parents about security settings on devices used by children for classes and help them block inappropriate sites.
5. Choose a secured virtual learning platform
Your choice of the virtual classroom software is critical as it plays a huge role in ensuring online safety for children.
It should –
- support digitally secure login functionality.
- have embedded analytics support.
- be able to monitor students’ activities.
- have secured features for content creation and delivery.
Classroom.live is one such education delivery platform which is worth exploring. It is simple, secure and powerful – and is an apt choice for conducting online classes seamlessly.
Some of the features that you may evaluate:
- Complete tracking of student activities
- Attendance timestamp on entry/exit
- Strong set of security features – password restricted access
- 100% secured class controlled by educator
- Instant reports and actionable insights for management
- Safe and secure integration and development of content – opens video/presentations within the application window and does not take students to other sites.
The future of education is incomplete without technology. Educators and parents must work together as a team, to facilitate tech-enabled education for students – in a safe and secure learning environment. Adult oversight is a must especially with younger children.Our goal should be to educate children in a way that they are ‘mindful of their purpose to use technology’ and use it as a catalyst for their growth.