Technology has become a helpful tool in the classroom as advancements have been made over the past several years. Students have learned how to utilize the internet for research, collaborate with classmates through team-building applications, and expand their knowledge through creative outlets. However, this helpful tool is about to become a lifeline for education. During the COVID-19 outbreak, schools across the country have moved to online classrooms. Many school systems have committed to online learning for the rest of 19-20 school year, with on-campus activities resuming in the fall. Educators and students alike are making a transition that requires everyone to learn something new. This learning curve is essential for proper cybersecurity measures to be utilized. There is plenty of important data in school networks that criminals would like to steal. There are three important factors that both educators, students and parents should consider while participating in online classrooms.
Schools have collected an ample amount of data about students and their families. This data ranges from basic data like name, email address, physical address, and grades, to more complex data like biometrics, academic progress, and medical information. All this information must be guarded at all cost. It’s important for faculty to prioritize security and privacy with the highest regard and for parents and students to use caution and awareness when navigating online classrooms and emails concerning education. It’s impossible to cover every hole that exist in online learning due to the massive migration that COVID-19 has caused. It’s up to everyone to make sure privacy is prioritized and protected.
Security threats take many forms. Social distancing has caused many students to go stir crazy from being stuck at home. Students without creative outlets look for ways to solve their boredom the fastest. It’s understandable for students to experience this due to missing friends and missing their normal activities. This can certainly lead to stunting social progress, but it can also lead to several security threats. Students experiencing boredom can wander away from their assignments to unsecure sites or interact with ‘phishy’ emails. This is especially dangerous for students who have been issued a device that belongs to the school system. Parents must take time with their kids to explain the dangers that exist on computers and mobile devices. They must also explain why their kids are prime targets for cyber criminals. It’s also important for schools to set up time for students to interact with one another through secure video or messaging apps. Some school systems have assigned interactive activities such as a virtual escape room to continue to encourage students to build their social and collaborative skills.
Using Proper Tools
There are many online tools that claim to be resourceful for students and teachers to utilize during distance learning. However, not every e-learning tool is as secure as it may seem. School officials in New York, Washington D.C., and Las Vegas have halted their use of the videoconferencing app Zoom due to concerns with security, privacy, and harassment. Many schools have reported Zoom meetings being interrupted by unidentified accounts. Many of these accounts were disrupting Zoom classroom calls with inappropriate imagery. Zoom is extremely simple to set up, which is why it has gained popularity during the outbreak. However, this simplistic approach has also made it easy for intruders to gain access to private classrooms. It’s crucial for school leaders to do proper research for every tool that is utilized in the classroom. Security and privacy policies should be reviewed thoroughly before implementation. There are countless distance learning resources for students and faculty, but not all of them are secure.
Education is being tested in new ways due to COVID-19. Educators, students, and parents all have a role to play to make this transition the safest it can be. Schools are certainly being targeted at a higher volume, which makes cybersecurity even more crucial. Whether you are a student, teacher, board member, or parent, make sure you are doing your part to ensure the highest-level security awareness is being applied.
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