Time is going by quickly, it’s hard to believe it’s July already!

Last week, DigiKnow covered live-teaching using MS Teams. This touched upon why students like live-teaching. This gives students an opportunity to engage with content and ask questions (regardless of which platform is used).

This week, we look at in Zoom for live-teaching. It’s not a case of Zoom is better than Teams or vice versa. Here, we want to provide you with an alternative. Whichever of the two systems you choose to use, is your choice.

What is Zoom?

Zoom is a conferencing/meeting software, first created in 2011. It’s been around a long time and has moreso come to prominence during Covid19. It is a popular method of staying connected in a time of social distancing measures.

As a participant you don’t need a license to access a meeting, you just need a link to click on. A meeting could be a virtual party, an actual business meeting or a live-teaching session. For the purpose of this blog, when we say meeting, it’s in the context of live-teaching.

Zoom is viewable on a computer, a tablet or via the mobile App! The crucial point is it’s in real-time!

Getting started and setting up meetings

When you have a Zoom account, you can set up and schedule meetings. Here, we have a look at how to set up a meeting.

  1. In your account, click Meetings.
  2. Click Schedule a New Meeting.
Zoom - scheduling a meeting
Zoom – scheduling a meeting
  1. Add Topic, Description, set Date and Time.
  2. Choose Zoom Duration (it’s better to over estimate this) and ensure you’re in the right timezone (BST/GMT).
Zoom -  meeting details
Zoom – meeting details
  1. Once you have all the details set, scroll down the page and click Save.
Zoom -save meeting details
Zoom -save meeting details

Next, let’s look at Meeting Settings.

  1. If you are the host, have your video set as ON and the participants set as OFF. If participants are on, it slows down the quality of the zoom. Participants videos can be turned on later.
  2. For Audio, choose both. Most people will be using tablets or machines rather than telephones. Using BOTH covers all devices and a number of students may be using their phones.
Zoom - settings options
Zoom – settings options
  1. In the Meetings options, it’s helpful to Mute Participants on Entry, so only one person can talk at a time.
  2. Disclaimer: It is good to record the meeting to the local computer. When recording sessions, notify participants by taking part in a meeting, they consent to being recorded. Click Save.
Zoom - settings options
Zoom – settings options

After scheduling a meeting, a link to join the meeting can be shared. Zoom creates a really simple invite on the right hand side. This is a quick copy and paste to relevant email / announcement area, etc. You only need the first couple of lines down to the link.

Hosting a meeting

As a teacher, it’s important you enter the meeting before students. Meetings can and should be set up to hold participants ‘in the lobby’ until the host is ready to let them in.

This gives you (as a teacher) time to open teaching content, videos, activities, etc., and prep them for the online session. Always take time to set up your teaching.

  1. Open the chat window, add a message for participants entering the room. This might, for example, say teaching will last 40 minutes with a Q&A session.
  2. Click on Participants to see who is joining the room.
  3. If someone needs invited in real-time, click the circle icon top left to show the current meeting details. Copy and paste the link to an email and invite any missed persons.
Hosting
Hosting
  1. Working with audio – mute all participants before entry to the room.
    Realistically, participants should ‘raise their hand’ which indicates they have a question and you can unmute everyone or individual participants. Students cannot all talk at the same time.
  2. When muting students, students receive the message on screen “You are muted. Press Alt+A to unmute your microphone or press and hold the SPACE key to temporarily unmute”.
Students joining a meeting

Let’s have a look at how students would join the meeting.

  1. From an email invite, click the Zoom link.
    For Zoom to run, it needs a plug-in downloaded to the computer. Once downloaded, you can Open Zoom. Otherwise Zoom will automatically open in a window to check sound.
  2. Click Test the Sound and Microphone.
    In Speakers, if you hear the ‘ringtone’, click Yes. Then change the drop-down to Microphone. Test this and if happy the microphone works, click Yes.
    After setting the sound, click Join with Computer Audio. This button activates your machine for hearing and speaking in the meeting.
  3. Click Join with Computer Audio on the next dialogue box.
Participants in the meeting
  1. Don’t assume what you see as a teacher is what students see, it’s not.
  2. Students NEED to open their chat window and the participants (it’s NOT automatic).
  3. Have a ‘guide slide’ or a set of rules when emailing meeting links to detail this.
What features does Zoom have?

So far, you’ve set up and started the meeting, and let students join. Let’s take a look at a few features in Zoom:

  • Screen Share
  • Change background
  • Beautify filter
  • Gallery view
  • Breakout rooms, and
  • Interactive whiteboards

Although there are a number of Zoom features; screen share, breakout rooms, polling and interactive whiteboards are beneficial.

Let’s take a look at Screen Share.

Using Screen Share

This allows you to play a video to students, show slides, etc., whatever is on your screen. When showing videos, remember to set the audio so students can hear it too.

As host, you have full control. If you pause videos during screen share, videos pause for the student also.

To screen share, turn web cam off temporarily and click on Screen Share. Choose the window of the computer to share (it’s helpful to have the video already open and ready to go). Ensure you add a check to Share Computer Sound (very important), then click Share.

Zoom - Screen share
Zoom – Screen share

There’s a Stop option at the top of the hosts screen. When video has finished, stop screen sharing and put your webcam on.

Gallery View

Basically, gallery view is a cluster of participants screens. It’s a nice way to display participants, allowing students to see each other. Anyone can change the view of content/participants on their screens. If a two-monitor set up is possible, content can be on one screen so information can be seen properly.

Zoom - Gallery view
Zoom – Gallery view
Other features

Beautify and Change Background are novel features of Zoom. Albeit a plain background option can lessen distraction whilst busy background options may cause distraction.

Summary

Zoom is quite a useful teaching technology for live-teaching, interactivity and engagement. We’ve only touched the surface of it’s capabilities this week. That is to get you setting up meetings, inviting participants and sharing your screen for teaching purposes.

It doesn’t matter where students are physically located. What students require are a device, an internet connection and the meeting details to join. Do consider bandwidth.

It may be students cannot put their camera on and have a good Zoom experience. If students can only receive a one-way broadcast and are engaging with the content, learning will still occur.

Next week

There’s still much to learn about Zoom and it’s other useful features. As Zoom is such a large subject (as is MS Teams), to do it justice, next week we continue with Zoom’s breakout rooms.

Join us then to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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