Collaborating at a Distance with Zoom

There are many possibilities for integrating real-time (synchronous) online communication and collaboration in teaching and learning.  For traditional, blended, or online courses, opportunities to virtually connect with students, with faculty or other professionals in other locations expand teaching and learning beyond our campus boundaries,  IT/DL has made it easier to do this with a new web and video conferencing tool called Zoom.  This TechTuesday session introduces faculty and staff to Zoom, via Zoom.  If being physically present on campus at 8:30 a.m. for TechTuesday has made it difficult for you to attend these early morning sessions, this week we’re using Zoom to introduce you to this tool while hoping also to widen access to and participation in Tech Tuesday sessions.  (You’ll have to access your own coffee, however).

Some of the ways you might use Zoom to support interactive and student-centered learning, or to communicate with students beyond face to face opportunities, include:

  • Guest speakers–enliven a class by bringing in faculty, students, and experts from around the world
  • Holding class when weather prohibits coming to campus or while you are traveling (with the option to record the class for students who couldn’t attend or for later reference)
  • Group activities around a shared problem, question, or text
  • Virtual collaboration space for students working on group projects
  • Student-led class discussions, review sessions, etc.
  • Conferences with students to discuss their work
  • Virtual office hours to widen availability and participation

To join this Tech Tuesday session via Zoom, you need a smartphone or a computer. Although a webcam and microphone are required to join in on the discussion, if you don’t have these tools you can still view and listen. Here’s the link to join the session, which you can access beginning at 8:15:  Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: [link removed] Participation is limited to 50.

A few suggestions to help ensure a successful experience:

  • If you are joining by video, check your background and be aware of what’s visible behind you.  Move distracting visual elements (piles of laundry, leaping cats, etc.)
  • Join the session prior to the meeting start time, as early as 8:15, to allow time to verify audio and set up
  • Headsets are recommended, especially if you are joining only by audio without video
  • If you are joining by video, reduce distracting glare and uneven lighting in your environment, by closing window shades.  A well-lit room is important, but the combination of outside light and indoor fluorescent light can disrupt the camera and image quality.
  • Use the features in Zoom to interact with the session presenters if you have questions or comments.

*Featured image “buttercup,” by Paul Harris, on flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.