Information Services

Staying Safe While Learning and Teaching Online

The University has transitioned to a remote model of learning and teaching. This page offers guidance on troubleshooting digital safety concerns that may accompany periods of increased online activity.

Building Digital Resilience

Especially during periods of increased online activity, it is important to safeguard your own systems and devices against online threats. Building up your personal digital resilience is a good way to protect yourself against online fraud and malicious actors intending to do you harm. The following resources offer a good place to start in terms of building up your cyber defences.

Cyber Resilience Scotland

This series of podcasts from Cyber Scotland Week 2020 introduces listeners to various aspects of cyber resilience, from passwords and malware protection to cyber hygiene for businesses.

Cyber Resilience Scotland Podcasts (Link to external website)

Digital Safety Tips and Resources

The webpage from the Digital Skills and Training team offers a broad overview of ways you can keep yourself safe while engaging online, including quick safety hacks and a curated list of digital safety guides.

Digital Safety Tips and Resources

Information Security – Top 10 Safety Tips

The University’s Information Security (InfoSec) team have put together a handy list of their top 10 digital safety tips to help protect you and the University. This is a great place to start when it comes to managing you own digital safety.

Information Security: Top 10 Safety Tips (PDF)

Support for Digital Safety Concerns

We understand that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the lives of our students and staff. If you require additional support for your digital wellbeing, the page below offers a curated list of both internal and external resources to help guide you through some common digital safety concerns.

Support for Digital Safety Concerns 

Coronavirus-Related Fraud

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, there has been a sharp rise in fraud both online and offline. The most common types of fraud include phishing emails, telephone and text message scams, and online shopping scams. It is more important than ever to be vigilant against fraudsters and to beef up your own digital defences.

For more information on different types of Coronavirus-related fraud, as well as how to protect yourself against these frauds, please visit the Digital Skills and Training team’s Fraud Awareness Resources page, and follow the Information Security team on Twitter for updates on known scams (both linked below).

Fraud Awareness Resources

Information Security on Twitter

Dignity and Respect Online

The University of Edinburgh has a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of bullying and harassment. As members of an international community that prides itself on honouring diverse perspectives, it is important to practise good digital citizenship and treat all others with dignity and respect both online and off.

The Respect at Edinburgh web hub offers helpful guidance on the University’s Dignity and Respect policy, the processes for raising and addressing concerns, and the support and training available.

Respect at Edinburgh Web Hub

Digital Self-Care

While spending extensive periods of time online, it’s important to take measures to safeguard your digital wellbeing and mental health. Some tips on how you can keep yourself safe and healthy include:

  1. Check your privacy settings – This is especially important if you use one or more forms of social media. As we spend more of our time engaging with others online, it’s important to know who has access to your posts and personal information. To keep yourself safe and secure, it’s good practice to review your privacy settings every few months.
  2. Review your location services – While we might not be venturing far from home during the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s still important to review how much access your digital devices have to your location. Perform a quick check to see if location services are enabled in each of your apps and ask yourself if it’s necessary that these applications have access to your geographical information.
  3. Use wellbeing controls – Many devices and platforms now offer options that help you manage the time you spend online. If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to separate work and study from your down time, simply turning off notifications or activating “do not disturb” can make a world of difference.
  4. Set your own boundaries online – Being constantly bombarded by news reports and social media posts can take a toll on your mental health. If you’re feeling anxious or fatigued, setting your own boundaries online might help you manage your digital wellbeing. Only engage with what you’re comfortable engaging with online and take regular breaks from social media if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  5. Be an active bystander (if it is safe for you to do so) – With so much activity happening online, it’s important that we support one another in virtual spaces. If you’ve witnessed cyberbullying behaviours online you can report the issue to the platform, though sometimes even sending a personal message to victims of online harassment can make all the difference.

If you require support for your wellbeing, the University provides several online resources, including Big White Wall, the Feeling Good App, and SilverCloud. Please visit the University's self-help hub for more information on accessing these resources. 

University of Edinburgh Self-Help Hub  

Video Conference Etiquette

It is important to employ good practice when it comes to both facilitating and participating in video conferences and online classrooms. Currently, the University supports the use of Microsoft Teams and Blackboard Collaborate for video conferencing and meetings. Tips for communicating successfully through video conferencing include:

  • Set an agenda for your session and stick to this to ensure everyone remains on the same page.
  • Choose a quiet location for attending any video conferences or meetings.
  • Arrive early to allow plenty of time to check mics and connections.
  • Advise participants to mute their microphone when not speaking.
  • Set clear expectations for engagement at the start of a session. For example, ask participants to use the "raise your hand" function in Collaborate before speaking.
  • Consider using a pre-recorded presentation if your session needs to reach a lot of people.
  • Ensure your session caters for accessibility needs, for example by including subtitles and offering the content in an alternative format.

You can find more in-depth etiquette tips for operating video conferences and virtual classrooms at the links below:

13 etiquette tips for video conference calls (Tech Republic)

5 Discussion Ground Rules for the Online Classroom (Colorado State University blog)

Using Zoom and Avoiding Zoombombing

While the University supports the use of Microsoft Teams and Blackboard Collaborate for video conferencing and meetings, we are aware that individuals may choose to use Zoom in some instances. When using Zoom, ensure that you take the following precautions:

  • Do not share meeting links on social media or other public platforms where they can easily be intercepted by trolls or cybercriminals.
  • Change your screen sharing settings to ‘Host only.’ This will prevent trolls from accessing your video calls. You can either change this in your pre-meeting settings or in the in-call admin settings for Share Screen -> Advanced Sharing Settings.
  • Disable “Join Before Host” to prevent people causing trouble before you arrive.
  • Enable “Co-Host” so you can assign a co-facilitator to help you moderate.
  • Disable “File Transfer” to prevent digital virus sharing.
  • Disable “Allow Removed Participants to Rejoin” so that expelled attendees cannot regain access.

More tips and guidance on how to prevent Zoombombing and troubleshoot disruptions in video conferences can be found at the links below.

8 Quick Tips To Keep You From Getting "Zoombombed" By Trolls (Buzzfeed News)

4 Zoom security settings to change now to prevent Zoombombing (CNET)

How to prevent Zoom bombing: 5 simple tips (Tech Republic)

University Guidance on Remote Working

Due to the escalation of Covid-19, most members of the University community are currently working and studying from home. To help you navigate remote working, Information Services Group has issued off-site working guidance for both staff and students.

Digital Tools for Teaching Online

Find information and online training on the University’s online teaching tools and learning technology services, including Collaborate, Learn, Media Hopper, Turnitin and more, at the link below.

Digital Tools for Teaching Online

Digital Tools for Remote Working

This webpage offers helpful guidance on and tips for good practice when using collaborative online tools including Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online and Skype for Business.

Digital Tools for Remote Working

Guidance for Students: Using online learning tools

This page offers guidance for students on using a variety of online systems including Blackboard Learn, Blackboard Collaborate, and Media Hopper Replay.

Guidance for students: using online learning tools

Information Services Off-site Working Guidance

Find information on how to get set up for home working, instructions for remote desktop, cloud-based file storage, connecting to University file storage, holding meetings online and accessing other University services off-site.

Information Services Off-site Working Guidance