Zoom Remote control

In several previous posts,

Virtual Computer Instruction: Lessons Learned

Remote Desktop Applications for Distance Teaching and Learning

Splashtop Secure Remote Access, Remote Support and Collaboration Solutions for Educational Institutions

I described methods and applications of teaching BVI students that used the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to be able to observe and control student computers in order to facilitate student computer navigation for remote virtual lessons. I have found that these methods are highly effective in facilitating online learning and teaching of BVI students and believe these methods are critical, particularly when teaching computer science classes remotely, although these methods can be applied to most, if not all, content areas.

I was unable to implement the Splashtop application described above, however, although the Splashtop software was promising from a trial that was done, the company would not sign a PII (Personally Identifiable Information) agreement. Louisiana, where I teach, has one of the most restrictive PII laws in the country so Splashtop was out.

Since our district had contracted with Zoom as a remote videoconferencing platform, I discovered that Zoom had an option for remote control that could be enabled in the administrative console (usually controlled by district IT admin personnel) and RDP could then be accomplished with student computers. It is not enabled by default. However, the Zoom RDP interface is rather basic and a user (student) must allow the host of the Zoom meeting (presumably a teacher) to gain control, some of the other RDP applications tested would allow for automatic RDP, a good policy especially with district owned computers. The controls on Zoom including screen sharing and RDP are easily accessed by a BVI student using the TAB/Shift TAB key. 

The meeting host must allow participant screen sharing, and then a student must “share screen”. Once sharing is accomplished and the host (teacher) can view the student screen, an option on the Zoom menu shows as “request remote access”. The student will allow access and the teacher can now view and control the student screen concurrently with the student. I have been using Zoom and the RDP feature for a couple of weeks now, and I can say that it is highly effective in a BVI live remote learning environment. This allows the teacher to not only observe the students actions on a computer and verbally direct the student, it allows for dual control for when students become "stuck".