Dealing with Virtual Reality Risks in K-12 Schools

More and more schools are finding that virtual reality can be what they need in classes to enhance the student experience. With affordable devices such as Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR, a growing number of virtual experiences are suddenly available to students everywhere.

Educators have begun experimenting with VR software and virtual reality is making the transition to the classroom. With the growth in technological advancements, VR will play an increasingly prominent role in schools across the USA.

But new opportunities bring new risks. In much the same way that malware can affect computers and mobile devices, it can affect virtual reality headsets. Cybercriminals can attack these headsets with a diversity of intentions. Also, many tech companies are releasing VR products with serious security breaches. Statistics show that 68% of companies reliably apply or audit security policies.

Cybersecurity experts predict that this problem will remain, as hackers are constantly updating hacking methods to bypass the security of VR devices and applications. It will lead to the new approaches to phishing and hacking and VR industry need to understand these new risks. IT directors play important role in the safe implementation of VR technology and helping educators to keep and protect sensitive student information. IT staff in education institutions play a major part in protecting both institution and its students.

In order to protect student data, new policies should be established. Taking into account, that virtual reality offers users only new ways to interface with existing hardware, IT directors in schools, colleges and universities should use anti-virus software and high security setting to prevent students from accessing infected sites or content, which can lead to the further data breach. IT-personnel should also introduce strict rules of student personal electronic devices they bring to the premises.

When dealing with VR protocols, IT directors should be aware of what information specific software gathers about users. There was a similar precedent when in 2016 it became known that Oculus Rift, a VR headset acquired by Facebook, collected user data, including location and physical movements. The importance of VR security will grow as the technology becomes more sophisticated. In near future fraudsters will be able to impersonate individual digital signatures and socially engineer their way to more sensitive information.

Student data must be protected. At the same time, VR platforms are collecting user information and share it with third parties, not just advertisers. That’s why IT professionals and school administrators need to carefully read legal agreements before using VR software in classes. Acceptable VR tech should not put student information at risk.

Virtual reality and augmented reality technologies are in the process of constant development which means that IT professionals should keep an eye on security risks, react and adapt accordingly. If a VR software update changes what type of information is collected from its users, there’s a need to determine whether those applications are still suitable for the school. Protocols should be changed to avoid risks if the particular virus or exploit becomes known.

Also, students should understand that security of data and safety is the most important thing when they are dealing with virtual reality software or headsets. Core values of digital citizenship, basics of data collecting and managing online reputation should be explained to all students. VR can be a great experience, but internet safety is a must in K-12 schools.

Edtech is changing and transforming every time. But it’s important to remember that with every innovation, numerous risks and challenges can complicate the process of integrating and using it. This also applies to virtual reality.

Author: AI For Education


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