Jul 27 2021

4 UX Tips for Securing Zoom Classes

Consider these recommendations to promote good user experiences and security.

Prior to the pandemic, Zoom supported 10 million daily meeting participants. By May 2020, operations jumped exponentially to 300 million daily participants.

Today, Zoom offers security features for students and staff, including 256-bit AES-GCM encryption by default. Hosts can also “suspend participant activities,” which allows educators to freeze meetings and remove uninvited guests.

Meeting hosts also can route specific data to certain data centers. Out of 21 colocated data centers, Zoom administrators can choose where to direct their real-time meeting and webinar data.

Educators don’t always know how to best use these features, however. To promote both performance and protection, let’s examine four best practices that can help streamline online classroom security.

EXPLORE: Learn how Zoom can create a frictionless learning environment.

1. Understand These Easy Steps to Make Zoom Classes Private

When troublemakers disrupted college classes at the start of the pandemic, it occurred in part due to open meeting links that were shared with the public.

But built-in features such as two-factor authentication (2FA) and the ability to “lock” Zoom sessions once they’ve started can prevent these meeting interruptions.

Administrators can accomplish this by enabling 2FA from their Zoom web portals. You can choose whether to enable authentication for all users or only for those in specific roles or groups. Participants can receive 2FA codes via SMS, or through recommended authenticator apps such as Google, Microsoft or FreeOTP.

It’s also a good idea for meeting hosts to lock virtual classrooms once all participants have arrived, like closing the door once class starts. Meeting hosts simply click on the Security icon at the bottom of the Zoom window. Then select Lock Meeting from the pop-up window. 

2. Use Virtual Waiting Rooms to Be Safe

The Waiting Room feature — which is on by default for education users — keeps students out of classrooms until hosts are ready for their classes to start. It also shows who’s waiting to join. This allows staff to only admit participants they recognize.

Teachers have two choices for their waiting rooms: All Participants or Guest Participants Only. In the former, all students are sent to the waiting room, where administrators will either admit them one by one or all at once. In the latter, recognized and verified student accounts gain immediate entry, while all other participants are sent to the waiting room.

3. Act Quickly to Prevent Online Learning Disruption

If issues occur, Zoom makes it easy for educators take immediate action. For example, hosts can mute or remove disruptive participants and prevent them from rejoining. They can also report users for problematic behavior. This allows teachers to move swiftly if problems occur and ensure that disruptive students are removed before they sidetrack class agendas.

While hosts have a substantial amount of control over meetings, participants also retain a measure of autonomy. Participants can mute and unmute themselves, and hosts cannot unmute users unless granted prior permission.

4. Leverage Automation for Extra Protection on Zoom

Zoom’s At-Risk Meeting Notifier and Chat Etiquette Tool can help professors and instructors take control of virtual classrooms without adding complexity.

The At-Risk Meeting Notifier solution proactively detects issues with meeting privacy by scanning public, online resources for unwanted links to your meeting. If public links are detected, hosts receive an automatic email notification.

Meanwhile, the Chat Etiquette Tool automatically identifies keywords and text patterns in Zoom meetings and chats to flag students who send inappropriate messages during class.

It’s worth noting that account administrators must define the etiquette policies, and the feature isn’t deployed by default. If universities are interested, administrators should ask their customer success manager (CSM) to activate the Chat Etiquette Tool.

Zoom has introduced several security features since the start of the pandemic to improve the user experience — and they won’t slow down class.

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