With the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators, including Cathy and myself, were displaced from our campus classrooms and then quickly adopted Zoom to deliver our course content in an online teaching environment. Zoom has become the current leader in virtual collaboration classroom tools. In addition, Zoom easily provides video communication across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and conference room systems. Its free version hosts up to 100 participants and allows unlimited meetings. Zoom’s free version also allows unlimited 1 on 1 meetings; however, group meetings are usually limited to 40 minutes (NOTE: The 40 minute limit has been lifted during the COVID-19 crisis). Zoom is a very easy tool to learn and set up. All meetings include features like a conference call-in number, private and group chat, screen sharing, group collaboration, and an electronic whiteboard to name a few.
This new unprecedented Zoom learning course delivery has resulted in some problems and concerns. Unfortunately, “Zoombombing” is a new form of cyber trolling that has emerged. Zoombombing occurs when an uninvited participant uses Zoom’s screensharing feature to interrupt and disrupt meetings and classes, usually with inappropriate content. Since Zoom was not originally created for the educational environment, the company is continually improving the virtual collaboration tool to increase security and privacy.
Below are a few tips that Cathy and I have implemented to keep our class meetings private and prevent ourselves from becoming “Zoombombed”:
- Turn OFF the ‘Use Personal Meeting ID’ when hosting your class meeting. By turning off this option, Zoom will create a one-time unique ID for your class meeting.
- Turn ON the ‘Required Meeting Password’ – select a simple password and share it with the invited meeting participants. If you have different classes that you are teaching, we suggest setting up a different password for each class. This practice will help protect the FERPA rights of students.
- Turn ON the ‘Enable Waiting Room’ – This option places everyone into a waiting room until you recognize them and allow them into the meeting. If you use this option, you need to keep an eye on the waiting room to see if anyone needs to join the class meeting late or had to rejoin due to technology failures.
- Select ‘Allow Participants to Chat With’ to chat with ‘Host Only’ – this option prevents inappropriate side conversation chats.
- Turn OFF the ‘Allow Participants to Share’ – this option only allows the host to share their screen.
- Turn ON the ‘Mute on Entry’ – this option mutes everyone at the start of the meeting, which prevents unnecessary background noise. The participants have the option to unmute themselves if they need to ask a question.
- During the class meeting you have the option to ‘Kick Out Unruly People’ by hovering over the participants name and selecting the option to kick them out.
- Also, consider logging into your hosted Zoom class meeting as a participant through a different device. This will allow you to monitor what your students are viewing during your class session.
Cathy and I have utilized Zoom extensively throughout the past few weeks. Zoom is a great option to enhance and expand classes with powerful collaboration tools, including video breakout rooms, multi-sharing, polling, and group chats. In addition, attendance and attention tracking allows educators to know who’s engaged in the online learning environment. Zoom also allows a host to create and re-purpose video content into easy hosted videos that allow students to learn at their own pace.
Breakout rooms in Zoom are a great option to help with group project implementation. Breakout rooms are sessions that are split off from the main Zoom meeting. This allows class participants to meet in smaller groups. Breakout rooms are a great way to replicate the classroom environment by engaging students in small group discussions and collaborative activities. Instructors can join any group activity, which is very similar to walking around the classroom or students can “raise their hand” to request the instructor join their room.
In addition to hosting our virtual classrooms in Zoom, Cathy and I have utilized Zoom for virtual tutoring, campus hours, and faculty meetings. This has provided our students with opportunities to learn beyond the classroom. In addition, Zoom has allowed us to share our successes and challenges with our colleagues through weekly virtual meetings.
Do you need more help adopting and securing your Zoom classroom? We suggest checking out these great Zoom created video tutorials: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206618765-Zoom-Video-Tutorials?_ga=2.47859235.520390637.1586184035-254639170.1585840704
To learn more about Zoom and to set up your free account, click https://zoom.us/.
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