We Are Probably Three Or Four Generations Ahead Of Any Of The Solutions Available In The Market: Sameer Raje, Zoom Video Communications

In an exclusive interaction with BW Education, Sameer Raje, India Head, Zoom Video Communications, talks about the company and its effort in fighting with COVID-19.

How schools can ensure virtual classroom security during online classes? 

Zoom has updated several features to help our users more easily protect their meetings. We have enabled meeting passwords and virtual waiting rooms by default for users enrolled in our K-12 program, as well as our Free Basic and Single Pro users.  

There are multiple ways to get a head start by setting your meeting controls before class begins. Meeting controls are found in Zoom settings that will help minimize disruptions: 

  • Restrict annotation to prevent students from annotating on shared content or show the names of individuals annotating 

  • Disable “Join before host” so students can’t join a meeting before you start it 

  • Require a meeting passcode to join 

  • Allow only authenticated users to join, which requires participants to be signed into their Zoom account with your school’s domain to join 

  • Disable screen sharing for users (participants must ask for permission to share) 

It is equally important to familiarize with the Security icon. During the meeting you can click on the Security icon at the bottom of your meeting window to easily: 

  • Lock your virtual classroom once class starts so no one else can enter 

  • Force all new participants joining a meeting to enter the Waiting Room (where you can admit them on an individual basis) 

  • Enable or disable participants from sharing their screens  

  • Disable the chat feature to prevent participants from chatting with each other 

  • Prevent participants from renaming themselves 

  • Prevent participants from unmuting themselves 

Explain the hybrid classes? How is Zoom maximizing resources to expand capabilities and educational offerings? 

A hybrid class is the one that brings the benefits of blended learning, where educational institutes can utilize already available resources and hardware to expand capabilities and educational offerings. With virtual and hybrid classrooms and micro-learning education, institutes can see increased student participation and learning retention.  

Zoom seamlessly integrates with Learning Management Systems (LMS) – integrations with Moodle, Canvas, Desire2Learn, Sakai and Blackboard. These enhanced collaboration features like one-click content sharing, real-time co-annotation, and digital whiteboarding not only improves learning experience students but also enhance the teaching experience. Another key aspect is that educators can create and repurpose video content into easily digested hosted videos that allow students to learn at their own pace.   

How is Zoom improving the student learning outcomes through Zoom for Education? 

In line with our commitment to ensuring that quality virtual education is accessible for teachers and students, Zoom plans to launch new features that will enhance student engagement and classroom management. Accessible for teachers and students everywhere, these features will be made available on the free and Zoom for Education plans. 

Enhance class management - Create a virtual classroom seating arrangement, spotlight a group of presenting students, and other custom meeting views.  

Customizable Gallery View - Drag and drop participants in Gallery View into whatever order. This locks the gallery into a fixed configuration that won’t shift when a new person speaks or enters the room. Teachers can have students follow their view for a custom seating arrangement, which is handy for activities that involve “going around the room” in a certain order.  

Multi-pinning - With multi-pinning, any user can “pin” up to nine other participants on-screen in their custom personal view. This is particularly helpful for teachers and students that use American Sign Language because it does not automatically trigger the speaker to appear in the speaker view.  

Multi-spotlight - Teachers can spotlight up to nine participants for the entire meeting, creating a custom, focused group view that is visible to the entire class. This view is perfect for giving a group of students the opportunity to present to the class together. 

Unmute with consent - Normally, users have control over muting their audio, however, in some special cases, a teacher may want the ability to selectively unmute participants’ audio. Participants can revoke this permission at any time, including between meetings, by accessing a list of hosts to whom they have granted this permission.   

Improve student engagement with breakout room flexibility - Students will have the ability to select a breakout room and move between rooms. This allows us to create themed breakout rooms or reading groups and invite students to move between them based on their interests in topics.  

What steps and measures are being taken to improve the accessibility of education in tier 2 cities? 

Our product already works well with low bandwidth, so that’s one thing our users really love about the service. This makes it a key factor to be adopted in areas where internet is still an issue. Additionally, it is inspiring to see organisations like Teach for India that are using Zoom to deliver distance education to students with limited resources and positively impact their lives during the pandemic. Our aim is to power these organizations with a tool that is accessible yet simple for users to seamlessly collaborate and work together for a better future. 

In what ways are you working towards clearing the misconception around Zoom's security? 

We take user privacy, security and trust extremely seriously. Our entire 90-day plan was built around taking an already robust platform to a new, improved level. 

Key 90-day Accomplishments: 

  1. Feature Freeze on non-trust safety, privacy features. 

  2. Released 5.0, AES 256 encryption, Security Icon, Waiting Rooms, Passcodes, Keybase Acquisition, Customized data routing, E2EE - announced in June that it would be an option for everyone. 

  1. Comprehensive Review/3rd party experts 

  1. Worked with 3rd party experts and users to review and make changes to our products, practices, and policies; enacted a customer CISO advisory council -- Lea Kissner, Alex Stamos 

  1. Enhance Bug Bounty Program 

  1. Developed a Central Bug Repository in Atlassian Jira & related workflows 

  1. Launch CISO council 

  1. Comprised of 35 customers 

  1. Host weekly webinar  

  1. Every Wednesday Eric + security leadership team provided transparent updates; available to anyone to join 

Due to the pandemic, we had to become the IT support for a lot of organizations and saw more participation from standalone users, who have been using the platform to connect to their family, friends and colleagues, increased usage by schools to continue the education processes – in March we lifted the 40-minute time limit on free Basic accounts for 100,000 schools across 25 countries, including 2,300 in India. A lot of such users are unaware of various security measures one should adopt while on a virtual platform, leading to issues like meeting bombing.  

We are offering 256-bit GCM encryption level, have introduced new security icon, ensured that meetings ids are hidden, etc. while enabling more control to the teachers. With new features and security updates, we are probably three or four generations ahead of any of the solutions available in the market and growing.  

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Sameer Raje India Head Zoom Video Communications

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