How can schools and teachers protect themselves when connecting with pupils (using video) online?
In the last week, Zoom has seen over 29 million downloads when compared to 5 million on Skype, as the number one platform for people to use during COVID19.
After writing 46 Ideas: How to Teach Online, I’ve received many messages from school leaders about safeguarding concerns. I thought it would be useful to share some guidance on the dos and donts for schools and teachers to adapt and use in their own school context. I am happy to help show schools leaders the basics of this
1.Train your teaching staff
Learn what features there are and what you must do and what are optional. There are countless tutorials. There are tips for working from home to managing remote teams. Teachers can learn how to lock a meeting, prevent other users from sharing their screen, place pupils on hold, disable and mute microphones and videos (see number 3 below). It would be wise to have a teacher training session, before contacting pupils. Zoom has a good administrator guide (PDF), some helpful tips and a series of training sessions for teachers. They also offer some online classes for pupils…
2. Obtain parental consent
This is obvious, but considering the current climate, I would suggest that you work through the rest of this blog post and then consider what communication you will send home to parents, if you have not done so already. Pupils do not need to create an account on Zoom. Instead, they will be shared a participating hyperlink from you (the administrator), via your official email address. My advice would be to ensure that pupils access your meetings by ‘signing in’ via Zoom using their school email address/meeting ID. These should be communicated privately via school email and not stored openly on your school’s website.
3. Safeguarding tips for teachers working with pupils
Zoom provides a great poster for students participating online. My top recommendation would be to go into your settings and ensure you have considered what permissions are available to you as a host, and which are available to the pupils/parents at their home. The basics (yet essential safeguarding tips) include:
- Switch the settings to have microphones and videos off when joining the meeting
- Ensure the host is in control of who can control the screen, save the video/chat content
- Learn how to mute and unmute all participants, including video screens
- Be conscious of background environments and others in the room
- Use the whiteboard and annotation tools to improve engagement.
- Remind users about respecting others and using the chat box for commentary and,
- Please dress and talk appropriately!
4. Getting started
1. After you have taken time to practice and set up various protocols, including communicating with pupils and parents regarding consent and safeguarding, it’s now time to start a class.
2. Make sure you schedule this time, share the hyperlink/ID and as a host, join several minutes before the lesson starts to allow you to manage pupils joining the lesson.
3. Use the waiting room feature before a lesson starts. Set aside time to introduce the technology to your students and ensure that they are all connected to the microphone and video aspects. A top tip would be to show pupils how they can use the ‘raise your hand’ feature if wanting to ask a question live during a lesson. There is no harm in reminding people about online etiquette and expectations.
4. Pupils will be very familiar with a teacher’s expectations and style of delivery, and many children will be used to accessing content online, but I doubt they will be used to doing this (live and online) and in a large group. Consider how each other will be portrayed online and remind pupils about content, background displays and dress code.
5. Stick to time, but also take time to promote questions, pause for reflections. Use the whiteboard/annotation tools and gauge reactions from students. Give them a minute to pose questions, try the chatbox features and sharing files (or not); learn the art of using breakout rooms, albeit learning how to monitor this tool where pupils can subdivide into smaller groups to work together on certain tasks. Download the Tips and Tricks for Teachers
5. Train, share, reflect.
Let’s not forget that ICT training in most of our schools is often the last item on our CPD agenda. There will be a large number of teachers who lack confidence in managing this type of technology. My top tip is for schools to find early adopters and teachers who are confident in using this technology, and empower them to lead teacher training sessions with other colleagues to help them upskill. It may be that your confident users can lead a series of lessons and allow other teachers during the pandemic to do other tasks behind the scenes. For example, create resources or slideshows.
During these unprecedented times, it is critical to share the workload and learn quickly, how to adapt online and manage current content, not create endless new material and workload.