Imagine logging into Zoom and participating in class, then all of the sudden a student, who you thought was your classmate turns their camera on, unmutes themself, and says something harmful or distracting. This has become a reality for many teachers and students this fall. English teacher Michelle Vielhauer has had first hand experience.
“I noticed early this week that students, who were not in my class, were trying to log in. I just removed them from the waiting room and did not admit them. On Wednesday, someone logged in under the name of an absent student, so I let him in. When I asked the class a question, he turned his camera on and yelled some inappropriate language while waving a Trump flag. I removed the student as quickly as I could. I then talked with my class about the disruption. I think they [the students] were shocked. A couple giggled nervously. A couple commented on how dumb it was,” said Vielhauer.
Teachers had already been taking precautions to prevent the hacking before it started. For example, using the Zoom waiting room. The waiting room allows teachers to preview the names of the students before allowing them to join the rest of the class. The cameras are off and the audio is muted, so it is simply just the names that the teachers can see. Because of the recent spike in students hacking Zooms, the administration has added new requirements for students.
“The administration is requiring students’ cameras to be on so that would have helped because I would have seen that it wasn’t the student whose name they logged in under,” said Vielhauer.
Some teachers haven’t experienced the hacking, but are still nervous that it might.
“I have not had this happen to me at all… yet. I am scared it will happen and stresses me out. Hopefully I never have to experience this,” said teacher Megan Marquardt.
The administration has a way to trace the hacking back to whoever is responsible for it.
“We work with the technology department to do tracking based on the device used, the user account, and the IP address. We are continuing to work with them to improve the security and address concerns if other students decide to enter classes that aren’t their own,” said vice principal Jared Jackson.