Scott Matthew

Community Stories

IT leads the transition to a safe online RGU community

Director of IT and Digital, Scott Matthew, shares some top tips for safe IT working and studying from home, after his team supported the very quick transition to this new way of operating.

Just over a year ago on the 11th March 2019, I stepped through the doors of RGU to embark on a new role and a new chapter of my professional career. I could have never imagined that 1 year later we’d be preparing to move the University to home working as we faced the Covid-19 crisis, what a difference a year makes!

What has been hugely pleasing but not surprising is just how fantastically staff across the schools and departments worked so tirelessly together to ensure we can still deliver for our students through these challenging times.

Central to working at home has been our accelerated launch of Microsoft Teams as an operational hub to communicate and collaborate seamlessly just like we would on campus. Members of ITS had been working on launching Teams for the beginning of the 20/21 Academic Year but this all changed when the lockdown decision was taken. Work will continue on Teams as we develop our governance, data retention/policy, training documentation and further application integrations,

It’s been great to hear just how easily you have embraced this new way of working and developed your digital skills with many staff expressing a boost in productivity, being able undertake the majority of activities you would on campus with a little bit of creative thinking. Stories of the virtual coffee breaks, birthday celebrations and exercise classes showcase the social and creative aspects of these tools.

The explosion of video conferencing usage has highlighted the need to practice good security hygiene when running video sessions.  Recent stories in the press have shown what can happen when unwanted guests ‘Zoom Bomb’ meetings which in a teaching and learning setting would be particularly disrupting and damaging to the University.

At RGU we support and are licensed for a number of Video Conference tools with Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, VScene, Panopto and Blackboard Collaborate all widely used. We have also seen a huge increase in the use of Zoom at RGU with over 1000 staff/students signing up for accounts since the 1st March this year. To ensure we can securely manage and support Zoom we will look to license Zoom and integrate it with Teams in the very near future.

To provide the university with the very best support and advice on all aspects of information and cyber security including Video Conferencing, we work closely with the Scottish Government, the National Cyber Security Centre and our Information Security partners to take the latest advice to protect our user community from malicious activities.

Here are some simple steps to take when using any Video Conferencing tools: 

  • Do not share sensitive information
  • Ensure that Meeting Passwords are required to join where possible
  • Don’t use social media to share conference links
  • Verify the identity of conference participants
  • Limit screen-sharing ability to the host

What has to be stressed is the tremendous benefits that these tools provide us with and if we exercise caution and heed these steps we will continue to have great experiences with the tools.

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