What’s the Best Video Conferencing for Higher Ed?
As COVID-19 forces classes and student services online, many colleges and universities have turned to Zoom for virtual meetings. Used widely by businesses for video conferencing, Zoom is now being stress tested by higher ed. So far, it’s not making the grade.
At issue are concerns over privacy and security. Last month, a Zoom user filed a class-action lawsuit alleging the company shares data with Facebook—without consent. Even more disturbing, schools around the country report an increasing number of Zoombombing incidents.
What Is “Zoombombing”?
A recent FBI warning defines Zoombombing as the disruption of video conferences and online classrooms by hackers who share obscene images and use threatening language. To keep your online classes and student meetings in Zoom from getting hijacked, the FBI and other cybersecurity experts offer these recommendations:
- Make meetings and classes private. You can do this by requiring a password, or by using the waiting room feature to control who joins.
- Send meeting links to participants only. Some meetings and classes have been taken over when the host or instructor shared a Zoom link on a public website or on social media.
- Change screen sharing to “Host Only.” This will prevent all other participants from being able to share images without your approval.
- Use the most recent version of the software. Zoom released a security update in January 2020, adding passwords by default and preventing users from being able to randomly scan and join open meetings.
Switch to a Platform Built for Higher Ed
According to G2, the top three alternatives to Zoom for video conferencing are GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, and Google Hangouts. Like Zoom, these platforms offer easy access to online meetings. And like Zoom, they weren’t built for higher education—which puts student privacy and data security at risk. A better long-term solution for colleges and universities is ConexED, the interactive platform for student services and instruction.
In addition to video conferencing, ConexED has tools—like online scheduling, instant messaging, and a virtual lobby—designed specifically for learning and online advising. The platform is also:
- ADA, HIPAA, and FERPA-compliant. Hosted on AWS, ConexED uses secure connections for all transmissions between the application, database, and authentication servers. Protections for student privacy, data security, and consent are built into the platform. It also conforms to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, and provides automatic closed captioning and support for all major screen readers and text to speech.
- Ready to integrate with your LMS, SIS, and calendar system. With a multi-dimensional API, ConexED seamlessly integrates with your SIS and LMS to accurately push/pull specific data in real time. Calendar integrations include Google, Microsoft Office 365, Outlook, and Exchange—all synced instantly.
- Designed to support advising, instructional, and reporting methodologies. ConexED was built for student engagement, offering features—like the ability to record sessions with reason codes and delegate chats to other faculty or staff for follow up—that replicate methodologies used in higher education. It also provides the data you need to measure and report on student success.