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Zoom Privacy Settings: Best Practices for Online Teaching

April 2, 2020

Zoom Privacy Settings: Best Practices for Online Teaching

Read this free blog and learn about best practices when it comes to Zoom privacy settings and ensuring your classroom is a safe space to learn online.


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Keeping Your Students Secure with Zoom Privacy Settings

As many teachers move toward online learning and using tools like Zoom, we want to provide recommendations and best practices for keeping yourself and your students safe. The FBI recently weighed in with best practices, and Zoom provides great tips for setting up your meeting or class and ensuring that only your students are present. You want to take these recommendations seriously to avoid any unwanted guests from disrupting your class or sharing inappropriate material.

Below are four recommendations from the FBI with an explanation on why these recommendations are important. You can read the full FBI recommendation here.

In addition, here's a short video from Zoom walking through the various privacy settings you can use:

FBI Recommendations for Zoom Privacy Settings

  1. Do not make meetings or classrooms public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: Require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.” In addition, set the meeting ID to generate automatically. Do not use the Personal Meeting ID (PMI). If you use your PMI, anyone can access your meeting at any time, and might be able to launch a meeting on their own. You should also consider setting your class so your students cannot join the meeting and chat with other students before you officially start the meeting. If you set the meeting to allow students to join before the host (you), they will be able to start the meeting at any time, day or night, without you.
  2. Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people.” If you share the link to your Zoom meeting on social media or an open website, for example, anyone with the link can join your meeting at any time. 
  3. Manage screensharing options. In Zoom, change screensharing to ‘Host Only.’” This is an important one to set up. If you allow users to screenshare, they can take over your meeting at any point and share their screen and possibly inappropriate material. There are certainly times when you will want to grant screensharing to your students for project sharing, but have this setting restricted at the beginning.
  4. Ensure users are using the updated version of remote access/meeting applications. In January 2020, Zoom updated its software. In its security update, the teleconference software provider added passwords by default for meetings and disabled the ability to randomly scan for meetings to join.” This is good advice and practice for all technology you are using. Be sure you are using the most updated software.
zoom privacy settings demonstration

An example of how to set up the proper Zoom privacy settings for online learning.

Finally, be sure to read Zoom’s tips for keeping your classes and meetings safe. It goes through every setting you should consider for your class setup. It is likely if your school district set up Zoom accounts for you that IT has preset a lot of these settings, however, it is still good practice to log in and verify your setup. You’ll also find these best practices for securing your virtual classroom helpful.

Have additional safety tips to share? Please comment below.

The AFT was formed by teachers more than 100 years ago and is now a 1.7 million-member union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are... See More

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