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The elephant in the virtual training room: privacy

Much training previously held in person is morphing into online offerings. In some ways, it’s a simple transformation. Trainees sign up for a webinar just the same as they would for a face-to-face offering. Organizers can collect just as much data on attendees as they would if meeting face-to-face. In most situations, setting up an online meeting via a third-party software platform is easy—once you adjust your materials to the online environment. However, the security of a virtual training room requires more attention.

Before you venture too far into the world of web-based instruction, explore which privacy features you must have for your program.

Data control on black consoleFirst, read the privacy policy
Protecting the privacy of your trainees and your organization is paramount. Take a deep dive into the privacy policy for the meeting provider you hope to use. Zoom, GoToWebinar, Webex, and all other platforms should have their policies accessible just off the home page. Confirm what they will do with the data they collect. For example, do they allow persons to log on to their platform via Facebook or Google? That almost always means data is being shared with those behemoths. Instead, recommend attendees create and use an account specifically for the virtual training room provider.

Require a password
Every conferencing software makes a meeting password optional. Not every meeting necessitates one. But passwords offer another simple level of security. Include the password in the registration confirmation email along with the meeting link to your virtual training room. Some systems allow you to set stricter password parameters than the ones created by default. If the meeting link ends up in the wrong hands, the password is another obstacle to overcome.

Control entry
Most systems will prevent attendees from joining the meeting before the host/instructor arrives. But look for a setting that allows attendees to enter the meeting before the instructor. Confirm that option is switched off.

Further, tools have an optional waiting room/lobby. If that’s activated, attendees can’t enter the virtual training room until the host permits them, either one by one or as a group. The waiting room feature provides another chance to check attendees against the list of confirmed registrants.

Authenticate
If a training is offered only to your organization’s employees, you may be able to tie the meeting platform to single sign-on. That means the platform can communicate with your internal database of employee records. Trainees would log in through that secure internal system instead of through the meeting software’s login page.

Preach against over sharing
Invitees often share login information with other potential attendees. There is usually no harm in that, depending on where they share it. Particularly when using the same meeting ID for recurring sessions, instruct attendees to never share the meeting link on social media. It happens. And the people who show up uninvited may not be there to soak up your leadership development expertise.

Embrace transparency
If you intend to record your training session, inform attendees up front. Tell them how you intend to use the recording, such as whether you will post it publicly or for a private group. If you intend to share the recording only with a private group, double-check the settings for it. Many online meeting recordings end up viewable by anybody willing to do a quick web search.

Perhaps best, you can still use a secure registration management system to communicate with and manage continuing education requirements for those who participate via a virtual training room. To explore, please connect with us.

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