The Coronavirus has completely transformed the meaning of “a safe and secure classroom”. The classrooms where kids wanted to be popular, go to lunch together, and play sports for fun have transformed into eight hours of intermittently looking at a screen of classmates, or sitting alone in a breakout room, while the teacher makes her/ his way around. This new learning reality makes caring, invested, and committed educators cringe, with regards to the impact of the screens on their students’ social and emotional development.
Having been tested time and time again, learning cannot take place unless the learner’s environment is safe. Thanks to technology, the classroom no longer has walls, which has dissolved the boundaries and constraints of the overall learning experience. Though this is enhancing and enriching the possibilities of education, those walls did provide a sense of security to the students while within them. So now we must secure our virtual classroom walls and to do so, we must begin by identifying the ways information and access are gained, and then effective ways to apply security controls. For example, what are the classroom “potential attack surfaces”? These could be the teacher, the laptops and software running on the laptop, the actual learning sessions in Zoom, or Teams. Most importantly, our student’s privacy, their identities, student profile information and family details.
As a STEM advocate, and cyber security expert, I want to support educators by providing few key steps to follow while making learning safe online for their students. Just as importantly, I want to share why I believe our current classrooms are actually an opportunity to use technology to improve the social and emotional development for kids. To start, here are a few tips to begin to secure your online learning space:
1. Teachers, attackers frequently sell Zoom credentials on the dark web. If your session has been compromised, it is possible the hackers will try to use this same information to compromise other accounts the students have.
Always require that All email accounts and password combinations the users / students attending the call NOT be recycled from other accounts or sites.
2. Require all attendees to have to request permission to join the session from the host, in this case YOU, the teacher. The Teacher will then be able to easily recognize a username that was not assigned for the class and then can block a malicious actor from gaining access.
3. Prepare and practice a response if you are Zoom bombed. This response plan would include:
a. What you tell participants / students to do. Prepare the students with a practice drill just as you would plan fire drills, Code Red lockdown drills and so on.
b. How to remove the attacker from the meeting. This may require consultation from the tech team on site and school admin regarding protocol. For example, do we boot the intruder out, and continue with class? Do we dismiss the class early and begin steps to report the incident? Think this part through…and know what you will do.
c. Specific actions to take post-attack to both contain it and report the attack to the necessary authorities and IT professions. Some steps include:
1. List computers used during conferences
2. List users attending conferences
3. Any sensitive information shared during conferences
4. Post Incident / attack, identify any abnormal behaviour of systems used during zoom conferences
5. Ask users attending the call if anyone noticed the username of the hacker that Zoom bombed the meeting.
6. Check to ensure the camera has not been compromised and users are not being remotely surveilled (If you are not sure cover it, till you are).
Sadly, most often we hear of people who use technology with malice, to further actions that only divide and push kids farther apart like cyberbullying, or the disruption of learning. But this is only one side of the coin. Let me show you the other!
As I mentioned before, technology is also providing an unbelievable opportunity. With the state of the world, need for inclusivity, equality, and justice, we can use this technology as a tool to unite and empower communities. Now that we have classrooms without boundaries, let us find more ways to use technology to connect and bring kids and different cultures closer together.
Let me show you one way how this can work! 1600 Cyber is a cyber security consultancy who through our philanthropic arms, 1600 Avenue & Music Group, is beginning to deliver premiere technical workshops and skills building classes. The music is the common denominator, all kids regardless of culture love music. The technology components complete this Global curriculum!
Imagine a shared virtual classroom with students from the USA, Brazil, France, Germany, Egypt, Canada, South Korea, and St. Lucia sharing a class with kids who are excited and taking turns expressing themselves artistically through the love of hip hop or other music that they all have in common. And using the latest technologies to actually create “culture”.
Imagine, through technology, seeing kids excited and embracing the fact they are “global citizens” who share more similarities than differences with other kids in the world than they ever before thought. Like a digital pen pal or global playdate, imagine the bonds of lifetime friendship that could be built.
Of course, people may say, but what if they do not speak the language or understand the cultures or practices of the students of different backgrounds? My answer is simple, They WILL.
And they should. We need a more inclusive, equitable and unified world for our future generations. I, Frank Satterwhite, Founder and CEO of 1600 believe that through music and technology we are stronger together. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss if you would like to be a part of this. We are just getting started.