During this pandemic several educational institutes had to move virtual. Some institutes, especially higher educational institutes had experience of online instructions, but it was not very common in K-12 settings. While moving online it was important to find a good video conferencing tool. That is when kids were introduced to Zoom in several institutes.
Zoom is a cloud based video conferencing tool to create online meetings. When face-to-face meetings are not possible, Zoom allows people to join virtual meetings from anywhere in the world, It is easy to install with user friendly features, It can be used from various operating systems such as windows, mac, android etc, and different devices including iPhone, ipad, Laptop, android phones etc.
These days people keep talking about zoom meetings, meaning the audio and video meetings that use the Zoom applications. Meeting host can create a zoom room ahead of time and send the zoom link via text or send the invitation through an email. Similar to calendar events, zoom meetings are easy to set up and use based on daily, weekly or monthly as needed. Members can create a free zoom account or they can choose from several paid options. To join any zoom meeting, a person can choose to turn on the camera or keep it off. While the presenter is talking, the host can hold rights to mute / unmute the rest of the members. With the free plan maximum 40 minutes zoom meetings can be scheduled, while with corporate or premium accounts it can be way longer than that. Most institute zoom accounts allow up to 500 people to join at a time.
To make it more secure, the host can add a few security checks like people with the same workplace accounts can join the meeting, people with the passcode shared by the host can join the meeting etc. Instead of anyone directly joining the meeting, the host can turn on the waiting room as an added feature. Once the meeting starts, the host can lock the meeting.
Host can always share the screen, and allow everyone else to share their screen through settings. After you join the zoom meeting, if allowed by the host you can share the screen, chat with other members, control your audio / video options and share files in the chat area. It creates a great virtual workplace and community building option. Host can record the meeting ( and if allowed any member can) for future reference.
In the school environment, teachers can create online classes using zoom. Students can join the class, ask questions, discuss with their friends, and share the screen. If needed, teachers can also create breakout rooms for small group projects where only a group of four or five students can work on their project topics and do not disturb the entire class. This is also helpful for more personalized teaching when a single or small group of students need to meet their teacher for specific questions. If there is a co teacher, student teacher or any other school staff member in the class they can be added as a co host by the main teacher. As zoom links are easy to share they can be easy to share. Some LMS’s allow Zoom to integrate on their platforms.
I think Zoom gives a lot more options and security features for video conferencing.