April 1, 2020
Dear faculty colleagues,
Thank you for all you are doing to make remote teaching work for your classes and students.
As you may have heard, despite our efforts to prevent Zoom disruptions caused by malicious outsiders, some have succeeded. It is unacceptable that members of our community are subjected to this harassment and we are taking additional steps to address it. We are enabling the highest level of access security possible in Zoom. This requires anyone directly joining a meeting to be an authenticated user of the UT Austin Zoom system and to use a Zoom application to join the meeting.
What does this mean for your classes?
Your students must do two things to ensure smooth access to class.
- They must claim their free UT Zoom account by going to utexas.zoom.us and register. This is done by clicking on Sign In. They cannot use any other Zoom account to access your class, including Zoom’s free accounts.
- They must download and register the Zoom app on all their devices (including computers). The Zoom app is available in the Apple App Store and in the Google Play store for Android. The desktop app can be downloaded at utexas.zoom.us by following the Download Client link at bottom of the opening screen, and then downloading Zoom Client for Meetings.
By taking these steps, students will be able to seamlessly join your next class session and all future sessions.
We encourage you to ask your students to do these two things before your next class. We are also sharing this information with them. For technical support, please direct your students to the UT Service Desk or, for more general support, the Texas One Stop.
If students don’t do both of these things, they will either be delayed joining class while they download the Zoom application, or they will be placed in the Zoom Waiting Room where you will have to admit them manually into the session. We know how frustrating it is to spend time at the beginning of class dealing with this.
Working with Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)
We are working closely with SSD to make sure this does not create barriers for SSD students in your class. For example, we are making sure that outside entities doing voice-to-text real-time transcription can be directly admitted to classes via their UTEID. Should you or your SSD students encounter difficulties, please contact them.
What does this mean for collaborations with those outside UT?
One of the compromises we have to make to protect our community is the use of the Zoom Waiting Room for anyone from outside the UT Austin faculty, staff and student communities. They are able to join meeting as a guest after they have been admitted by you, the meeting host. Click the Admit button next to their Zoom identity in the Waiting Room section of the Participant window.
- Note that you can readily Admit All in one click, however, for large groups this is not recommended as uninvited participants can easily be waiting and admitted without your knowledge.
- You can appoint meeting co-hosts who can assist with meeting management, such as admitting from the Zoom Waiting Room. This is especially helpful for large groups and can be a valuable role for TAs and RAs.
Other suggestions for avoiding disruptions
To maintain the integrity of your Zoom meeting or webinar, you may take advantage of several features offered in Zoom at UT to better prevent unwanted disruptions during Zoom calls.
- Ensure you are using the utexas.zoom.us domain (https://utexas.zoom.us/) for your Zoom calls to take advantage of increased security measures.
- Do not publish your Zoom meeting links in public forums such as Twitter. Share your links through more secure means such as email, calendar invites, and closed groups.
- Review the entire list of Zoom security features for both private and public events, including generating a unique meeting ID, requiring a password, muting video and audio of participants, and enabling waiting rooms.
Most Zoom settings are restricted by default for maximal security, but in light of the enhanced access control described above, you are able to experience a less restricted environment once inside of Zoom. You can change the settings in your profile by going to utexas.zoom.us, signing in, and clicking on Settings.
- Note that once settings are changed, they will remain until you change them back. Those changes will become the default for all meetings that you create going forward.
- Some (but not all) settings can be changed for a specific meeting when creating the meeting. After signing in at utexas.zoom.us, select Meetings, then Schedule a New Meeting. You will see several Meeting Options that are preset based on your profile and can be toggled on or off. Two specific settings, Enable waiting room and Only authenticated users can join, are locked (on).
- When you change a setting in your profile, it DOES NOT change that setting for meetings previously created, and you must go back and change them manually. For settings that are not part of the Meeting settings described above, the only way to change the setting for a previously created meeting is to cancel and recreate it.
Additional security measures may be needed in the future as we continue to learn more about the functionality of the platform and the nature of these disruptions.
Faculty members can find technical support for Zoom and its various settings here. For additional information on these and other ways to maintain the integrity of your Zoom meetings, learn more at Zoom Privacy and Security.
We understand there is a lot here to digest but it is imperative we do everything we can to protect and support our students, and each other, during this difficult time. Thank you, again, for all you have done during this exceptional semester.
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs
Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost