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Zoom Basics – Using Zoom for Classes and Meetings

Learn all that you need to know about setting up your first Zoom meeting: video conferencing functionalities, Zoom call recording, view options, and more.

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With the COVID-19 pandemic making it virtually impossible for society to carry on the way it used to, many of us have had to adapt by embracing digital tools for various communications and transactions. That’s why wife Shan, who’s a teacher, was delighted when she found out that the ever-popular Zoom meeting app would offer free upgraded service for educators to make classes possible even without having to be inside an actual classroom.

As a result, Shan wanted to familiarize herself with the functionalities and challenges of Zoom conferencing. Well, we both realized that this would be a perfect opportunity to create a nifty video tutorial not just for her, but for everyone else out there who’s just starting to get the hang of video conferencing on the Zoom cloud meeting app.

Basically, we took a tour of the Zoom app, set up our own Zoom call, and explored the different features that she could use for hosting and moderating her virtual classes.

There’s a big chance that you’ve attended one of these video conferences in recent times, either for work or to connect with your friends and loved ones. Thing is, most of us have only ever participated in conferences from an attendee point of view. You click a link, enter a room, watch, maybe interact and chat. You’re not driving the bus; you’re a passenger enjoying or learning from the content you’re seeing. 

With this tutorial, you’ll get to see the dashboard and know how it feels to be in the driver’s seat.

Zoom Meeting Functionalities: The Ins And Outs Of The Zoom Cloud Meeting App

Perhaps the most significant change for teachers would be the lifting of the time limit on the free version of Zoom. Normally, there’s a 40-minute time limit for conferences with more than 3 participants when you’re not on the paid service. 

Let’s look at the first step in setting up, let’s say, a virtual class for 30 or so students. Go to the Meetings tab, and then click on Schedule a New Meeting. You’ll have access to a window that looks like this:

It’s a webpage with fields where you can set a title or topic for the meeting, add a description, and schedule a date and time based on your local time zone. 

Note that when invited guests add the meeting to their respective calendars, it will automatically convert it to their local time zone. (In other words, there’s no excuse for being late!)

Setting up a recurring Zoom call

On the same screen, you can set the duration of the meeting, and indicate if it’s a recurring meeting or a one-time thing.

This is an extremely useful feature for a teacher. Say for example you’ve decided on a regular meeting schedule while we’re all under this lockdown. You can then set this up as a recurring meeting, and even set the number of weeks you need it to happen.

By setting it as a recurring meeting, it will only generate one URL to be used for all future meetings, over and over again—the only one that the participants will need to click in order to log in and participate. This will make joining a Zoom meeting much easier for your students. 

You can even password-protect your Zoom conference to prevent strangers from getting in uninvited. 

Registration for Zoom cloud meetings 

You can also choose whether or not you need people to register for your Zoom call, as well as how many times they’d have to register for recurring events (i.e. just once or every single time they join).

The registration link will bring them to a page which will then ask for their name and email address. After they enter the required information, they will either receive an email with the link or be sent to a page that has the link to log into the conference. Zoom’s automated system takes care of all that for you.

At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see how many people registered. You can also set it up to email the link directly to participants, or even send reminders for the meeting.

Additionally, you can set it so that everyone’s videos and microphones are turned off at the beginning of the meeting. That way, only the host will get to speak first.

Interestingly, Zoom works quite well with smartphones. Any participant without a laptop or a strong internet connection can call a 1-800 number to be patched in. However, you’ll have to indicate during the setup phase of the Zoom call whether you want to have computer audio, telephone audio, or both.

Recording a meeting

You can choose to record the meeting automatically, which is incredibly useful, particularly for teachers. You can opt to save it on your local computer or in the cloud – Zoom’s cloud services – which is the ideal option if you don’t have much disk space.

This way, you can share the recordings with participants who weren’t able to attend, or use the video to review the content or even your own performance.

I encourage you to do a couple of tests, just with your internal circle, before your actual meeting. Testing will help you get things right during your actual call.

Other Zoom conferencing basics

There’s the Waiting Room feature, which prevents new participants from instantly entering the room. While this grants you full control of the Zoom environment, it can be a bit tedious, as you’ll have to manually let every single participant into your Zoom conference.

By default, you’re the host of your Zoom call, but you can share that role with other participants with just a few clicks of your mouse.

When your call starts, you’ll be able to see all participants on that film strip at the top of your screen. You can mute or unmute all of them, or they can mute or unmute themselves. Video conferencing etiquette dictates that everyone except the host should keep their microphones muted to minimize the amount of noise in the background.

Want to see most of the participants? Simply switch to Gallery View. Whoever starts to speak gets promoted onto the main screen so that everyone can see them. Unless you pin your own video as the main video, in which case it’s your video that will always be up.

Lastly,  you can share your Google Slides, Powerpoint Presentation, videos, or any other media you’re currently looking at with the Screen Share option…

Open up a chat window where people can communicate…

Or even set up a whiteboard that people can write and draw on.

Frankly, our team uses Zoom everyday; it’s basically become our workspace now. It’s a great meeting platform with a decent range of functionalities. While there are other options apart from Zoom, you don’t necessarily have to switch—especially now that Zoom has leveled up its free service and given us more administrative functions for our video calls at a time when we need it most.

Oh, and if you want to watch the full tutorial, you can access it here.

Learn everything you need to know about Zoom meeting basics

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