As much of the world is adapting to being in quarantine, you may be wondering how to get started on Zoom. Zoom is one of many video-conferencing tools available to the general public. During our “new now” of self-isolation and stay-at-home-orders, Zoom has taken the important step of providing free, uncapped access to all educators. Video conferencing creates an avenue for connection and social interaction – arguably the most important aspects of education – and of society – to focus on in these challenging, ever-changing times.
So, how to get started on Zoom?
Just start. Go to zoom.us. If you are an educator, be sure to log in using your school email to have no limit on the number of minutes in each Zoom call. If you want to meet right now, choose “Host a Meeting.” If you want to meet later choose “Schedule a Meeting.” Complete the fields listed and you are on your way.
Don’t be intimidated
You may be thinking online video conferencing is complicated and overwhelming. But don’t go on thinking that this technology is only for CEOs and consultants. When you dig in, you’ll find it is not that much different than FaceTime or Skype – but has some much-needed flexibility.
Practice with your family
Everyone’s at home anyway. Call your partner or spouse in another room. Or set up multiple devices in different rooms and log in on all of them yourself. Once you have practiced setting up a Zoom meeting – and seen what it looks like to have other devices join – then you will have greater confidence.
In large groups, mute everyone – and have them raise their hands
If you are hoping to instruct people – in art, yoga, math or anything else – then mute everyone. Those in the meeting can click “participants” and have the option appear on the side of the screen to “raise hand.” This will allow you to see who should unmute- and when – to answer questions or take input.
A note to educators: Zoom may or may not be your preferred choice for direct instruction, but if your district and school allow it, it is a flexible choice for office hours, Q and A sessions – or even just show and tell (even our high school students want to show you their pets!).
In small groups, use the chat to share links – or screen share to share memes
If you are connecting for discussion or social interaction then no need to mute participants. You can use the chat to share links – or take turns sharing your screen with distracting memes, favorite videos, game boards, or almost anything else.
Think outside the box
Once you are on a Zoom call, the options are almost endless. And now is the time for creativity. Connect with friends and family across time zones. Take a “tour” of a friend’s recent remodel or new garden plantings. Schedule a tea time or happy hour – (bring your own beverage, of course!) Plan a game night night- either by adapting a card or board game, or by downloading an online game through a service such as Jackbox. You can plan a paint night, craft day, mani party, cooking class – or almost anything else you can think of!
What are you waiting for? Now you know how to get started on Zoom.