Despite schools across South Africa starting to open up as of next week with the gradual phasing in of grades, the interest in video and collaboration platforms still remains high as schools look to get their classrooms online and connect students and teachers remotely. But while some platforms have seen overnight success, many local schools have concerns over security, user-friendliness, and a seemingly overwhelming array of choices.
Privacy-minded schools should consider their video-conferencing options carefully, says Renaldo Muregess, who heads product strategy at managed business service provider Itec. There is often a trade-off between security and usability when opting for a single platform, and schools should look at systems that support multiple software options while ensuring the online safety of staff and learners.
Itec is currently running a pilot project with a Johannesburg school using the cloud-based video conferencing provider StarLeaf, which not only offers a more secure video-conferencing experience, but allows users to connect across a range of platforms and can control bandwidth consumption per user, regardless of location or device, the existing tools they have in place. StarLeaf’s latest new features include the ability to integrate easily with Microsoft Teams.
While there’s a plethora of collaboration tools on the market today, Itec shares StarLeaf’s approach that collaboration should not be restricted to one platform, that teachers and students should have the ability to communicate in the way that works best for them, and that we should support schools on their journey to creating their own collaboration solution that’s easy and safe,” said Muregess.
By integrating with other platforms, like Microsoft Teams, StarLeaf enables users to collaborate from a single workspace and increases productivity for schools which have Microsoft Teams or other platforms, with users able to meet with anyone, anywhere and on any device, both internally or remotely.
StarLeaf’s major selling point for many schools across the world has been its focus on security. The platform is secure from would-be attackers intercepting messages or accessing meeting sessions, as it enforces encryption; it owns and manages its own service, so it is not exposed to potential security or reliability issues in third party services; and it does not share user data.
“It’s clear that technology and cloud software tools can play a major role in keeping South African companies and educational organisations connected and working as close to business as usual in the face of the Coronavirus,” said Muregess.