Information Services

Staying Safe While Learning and Teaching Online

As the University adopts a more hybrid model of learning and teaching, find guidance on digital citizenship, online meetings, digital resilience and digital wellbeing.

Digital Citizenship for Students and Educators

The importance of digital citizenship cannot be understated as we continue to use digital technologies in learning and teaching. In the following Media Hopper Create video (5m25s), Dr. Vicki Madden, former Digital Safety Support Officer in the Digital Skills and Training team, considers some of the implications of digital citizenship for students, educators and the general public.

Video: Digital citizenship for students and educators
Dr. Vicki Madden, Digital Safety Support Officer in the Digital Skills and Training team at the University of Edinburgh Information Services Group, considers some of the implications of digital citizenship for students, educators and the general public.

Digital Citizenship Guide

For more information on how to be a digital citizen and the responsible use of technology, please refer to our Digital Citizenship Guide, linked below. This guide, available in Microsoft Word and PDF format, includes further information on the following:

  • Why is digital citizenship important?
  • Understanding misconduct
  • Online etiquette and expectations for students
  • Useful resources for further education

Digital Citizenship Guide (PDF)

The Digital Citizenship Guide should be read alongside the University's Virtual Classroom Policy, which clarifies rights and responsibilities when delivering and recording teaching and learning using online communication and collaboration technologies. This policy covers a number of important areas such as intellectual property, data protection and appropriate use of recordings. It complements the Lecture Recording Policy and is based on the same principles.

University of Edinburgh Virtual Classroom Policy

University of Edinburgh Lecture Recording Policy (PDF)

Online Meetings, Events and Video Conferencing

As some classes, meetings and events are held online during hybrid work and study, it is important to take extra precautions to safeguard your own safety as well as the safety of others. Especially when using online meeting tools such as Zoom, which enable our community to connect with people outside the University, consider the following safety tips and recommendations. 

Avoiding Zoombombing

When using Zoom, ensure that you take the following precautions:

  • Always require a password for meetings. This password should never be shared publicly and should be sent separately from the meeting invitation.
  • Do not share meeting links on social media or other public platforms where they can easily be intercepted by trolls or cybercriminals.
  • Use the Waiting Room feature and verify all attendees one-by-one before granting access.

Waiting Room feature

  • 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.
  • Do not use personal email addresses when registering for, or using, Zoom. Use your University email instead.
  • No confidential, sensitive or personally-identifiable University information should be discussed or displayed.  

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

University of Edinburgh Zoom guidance

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)

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 TeamsBlackboard Collaborate, and Zoom 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 link below:

13 etiquette tips for video conference calls (Tech Republic)

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 X (formerly Twitter) for updates on known scams (both linked below).

Fraud Awareness Resources

Information Security Team on X (Formerly 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 Wellbeing

Top Tips for Digital Wellbeing While Hybrid Working

This guide is intended for all University staff and students engaging in hybrid working: a mix of on campus and off campus working unconstrained by one specific location. The guide provides a range of tips and resources for how staff can prioritise mental and physical health while using and relying on digital devices to work and connect with others who might be working from a different site.

Top Tips for Digital Wellbeing While Hybrid Working (UoE SharePoint)

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.

Compromised? Find Support Resources

If you or someone you know requires immediate support for an online safety-related incident, you can find a list of both University of Edinburgh resources as well as external helplines through the page below.

Compromised? Find Support Resources

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)

General Safer Internet 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.

General Safer Internet 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)

University Guidance on Hybrid Work and Study

Many members of the University community are currently working and studying from different locations. To help you navigate hybrid working, Information Services Group has issued guidance for both staff and students.

Learning Technology Hub and Training

Learn more about the services and systems available to support the use of technology in learning and teaching. Specialist support and guidance is available to all staff, including training, pedagogy-focussed workshops, and engagement events.

Learning Technology Hub

Learning Technology Training

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

Students: Prepare for Hybrid Learning

Find a range of study skills support to help you prepare for a mix of in-person and digital teaching at this handy web hub for students, including an introduction to the University's virtual learning environment and short transition courses.

Prepare for hybrid learning


© Victoria Madden, Shivani Rao, University of Edinburgh, 2022, CC BY-SA 4.0, unless otherwise indicated.