Safeguarding Students by Disabling Office 365 Online Chat
Posted on: 6th Jun 2018 by: ANME Member: Patrick Shaw
Office 365 is a great value productivity suite for schools, but sometimes out-of-the-box features need some tweaking to ensure students are kept safe and schools meet their safeguarding responsibilities.
Co-authoring in Office Online has been available for a while, and Microsoft recently enhanced the co-authoring experience by introducing "Office Online Chat", enabling users to chat to each other if two or more users happened to be working on a document or page at the same time.
However, the Office Online Chat feature does not allow any moderation or oversight by staff, and there are no records or logs retained of chat conversations. This could present a safeguarding risk to schools in fulfilling their system monitoring responsibilities.
Between December 2017 and April 2018, Patrick Shaw (Strategic ICT Manager, Hodge Hill Girls' School), took up this concern with Microsoft by logging a service request, requesting the ability to control or disable the Office Online Chat feature for a whole Office 365 tenancy.
Through additional consultation with ANME members and the ICT Services provider "Link2ICT", a direct dialogue was established with Microsoft's UK Education Team to highlight the risks. Microsoft listened and took action, which resulted in the option for organisations to request the disabling of the Office Online Chat feature for their whole Office 365 tenancy.
This is an excellent example of how schools, ANME and IT Service Partners - all work together to get the most out of Office 365, whilst minimising safeguarding risks for children in our care.
Strategic ICT Manager
Hodge Hill Girls' School