During these unprecedented times and the need for remote working, we are all turning to the use of different tools to support communication and collaboration with students and colleagues. As a result of this, we wanted to provide you with additional information and make you aware of some important facts.
MS Teams is our supported video conference platform and all students and staff will be supported in its use by our IT Service Desk. The use of any other platforms, including Zoom, are not encouraged and will not be supported. There are a number of benefits that Teams offers, including:
- Integrated security with College accounts (for login to MS Teams)
- Additional collaboration functionality within MS Teams and its integration with the Office suite
- Integration with OneDrive and SharePoint
- The encryption levels within the software to keep audio, voice and written data secure
- A host of other reasons, one of which in these times, is cost
Due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, as a College we have had to be agile and roll out a basic version of MS Teams, six to nine months ahead of when we had originally planned, so there are a number of features that we have had to keep switched off initially. An accelerated plan has been produced and a programme of work is now underway that will enable increased functionality to be rolled out over the summer.
We are aware that MS Teams currently doesn’t offer some of the functionality that many of you have asked for, including – showing video for all people within a video meeting and Breakout Rooms. However, these features are being rapidly developed by Microsoft and are expected very soon. Microsoft is promptly responding to functionality requests with many features being rolled out on a week-by-week basis which will help us to provide the service you all need.
In the interim, if you decide that you need to use an alternative technology, which does not use College provided credentials and is unsupported by IT Services, then it is important that you adhere to the following advice.
When utilising alternative technologies please ensure:
- You know where and how data is being transmitted
- How the 3rd party will use the data – in particular when this is for any reason other than the delivery of the service
- That encryption controls are used to keep video, audio and any data safe and secure
- Users must comply with the terms of any licence (End User Licence Agreement)
- Users must ascertain if the licensing terms cover business or personal use. If in doubt, please do not use the platform
- Discussions are limited to those that you would be comfortable having in the public domain
- No personally identifiable information (PII) is available or shared with or between participants that would not otherwise be available during normal College business – guidance on PII may be found within the GDPR training module in Moodle
- You do not record or store recordings
- Participants are offered alternative methods of engagement in support of inclusivity and to address concerns regarding cybersecurity or data privacy
Due to the functionality that is not yet available on MS Teams, we are aware that a number of colleagues are using Zoom as an alternative. Please readthis advisory notice on the use of Zoom to ensure that you are aware of and adhere to the safety precautions needed when using this platform. Whilst the information and guidance is specific to Zoom, it is also applicable to any alternative platform.
Finally, an MS Teams user community channel is available for all colleagues to ask general queries related to the platform. If you have a teaching and learning query, please contact our E-Learning team who can provide guidance on the standard offering and other options.