Zoom has been getting so much attention lately, for obvious reasons, and I wanted to share some of our experiences, and our resources, to help those that might be thinking about using Zoom, or just starting to use Zoom. We are currently in week three of our Virtual Learning Program (VLP). You can find this HERE. Thus far Zoom is serving our purposes, and we have had no security issues, and minimal classroom disruption issues. Our students were able to pick it up very quickly, but more importantly, our parents were too. My hope is that everyone can find something useful in this blog post as we all continue to learn about Zoom.
It was just over four weeks ago, the tail end of Carnival Break here in Brazil, where our Head of School (HOS) called an emergency meeting for our School Wide Leadership Team. Honestly, that meeting seems like a lifetime ago; so much has happened since that time. Schools in the East, including China, Hong Kong, South Korea and others had been closed for weeks and we knew that our time might come. It had been a great Carnival to that point, we had friends come and visit who were travelling the world, and had spent lots of time catching up with them. But when our HOS scheduled that meeting I knew that things were about to get real for us.
Our first challenge was to get a Virtual Learning Program in place (linked above). We were lucky in the sense that many schools had gone virtual before us in Asia, and that there were a slew of resources already out there. Furthermore, schools were very willing to share resources and experiences to help us move forward. We were connecting with leaders via email, zoom, WhatsApp, and Twitter. Over the last weekend in February as Carnival Break was coming to a close, some of us spent our weekend, writing our Virtual Learning Program.
Once school went back in session a few days later everything had changed, we now had a rough draft of a Virtual Learning Program, and we were meeting daily as a Leadership Team. In addition, I was tasked with leading the tech training for our staff to get them prepared for the VLP. In leadership we talk about being agile, or adaptable, or flexible, as a great and necessary trait. When I look back on the last month, that agility would be something to rival the greatest contortionist of our time. Initially, I had trained all our staff on using Google Meet, but after some initial student trials (while they were still on campus), we decided to move to Zoom. I recall signing the contract on the Saturday before our last face to face week with the students. On Sunday, our IT team deployed Zoom to devices and designed training sessions, and on Monday we trained all of our staff. By Tuesday, teachers and students had downloaded Zoom and were practicing for what was to come. It was an impressive feat.
Now I will say that we did not start with free accounts, we opted for the 4 month “special” for those schools participating in Virtual Learning. This upgraded us to pro accounts for all of our teachers. Our non-teaching staff and our students are using basic accounts. However, all of our emails use the same domain, and thus we pulled them into our account for greater control.
There are several ways to use Zoom, for example through zoom.us, and there is even a Chrome Extension. However, it should definitely be downloaded to your machine for smoother operation. I have put together a set of instructions below on how to download zoom to your machine, access through the web, add the Chrome Extension, and schedule a meeting: Introduction to Zoom
The user controls for Zoom are powerful and give a teacher much control over their online learning environment. Such features as starting with video on or off, who can chat, the ability to transfer files, requiring a password upon entry, who can screen share, and attention tracking, give the teacher the ability to teach positively in an online environment. Some additional features which are great for the classroom are polls and breakout rooms. Breakout rooms have been a massive success with our middle school and high school teachers as it gives them the ability to break the class into smaller groups, thus allowing for small group discussion. The teacher as moderator can move freely in and out of the rooms as well, and bring students back to the larger group.
HERE is a great slidedeck that we produced on how to set up breakout rooms. Credit goes to Hansa Narang for this one, if you are not following her on Twitter, you should be! HERE is a slidedeck that we produced on all of the configurations mentioned above, and classroom management tips and tricks.
Zoom itself has some great resources, some of which can be found below:
For those of you operating on ipads, HERE is a great video from my friend Steve Katz who is an EdTech Coordinator at the International School of Kuala Lumpur. The video takes you to his blog, where he has tonnes of useful stuff. If you are not following him on Twitter, you should be.
The Dashboard is extremely handy as it provides you with all kinds of statistics including active users, number of meetings, and how much storage you have used. As admin you have access to all of the meeting statistics too, attendees, when they signed on and off, even the type of device and headphones they may have been using. Each user can pull this data as well, but if Principals or other Leaders are looking for attendance at say a staff meeting or parent session, Zoom administrators can easily pull this data. Admin on the account also control the users, as I mentioned we purchased pro licenses for the teachers, and because our students use the same email domain, we pulled them in to our account through activation emails. This allows us tighter controls during scheduling and meetings. Some key areas of control for admin; (thinking in a school context), who can chat, muting upon entry, who can share screens, breakout rooms, virtual backgrounds, and remote control (which we have enabled for our IT team), attention tracking, and waiting room. There are also several key security settings, including controls over profile pictures, two factor authentication, and signing in with Google. HERE is a link to Zoom’s Admin Panel help, with a full list of everything an admin needs to get started.
Zoom is not infallible, I am sure we have all heard of Zoom Bombing, the act where random people show up to your Zoom meeting, at best, it is an annoying interruption, at worst, these individuals can be rude, and highly inappropriate. On April 2nd, CEO Eric S. Yuan issued a blogpost to users, found HERE. In 3 months time they have gone from an average of 10 million meetings a day to 200 million meetings a day, and they have added 90,000 schools worldwide to their customer base. Given this, they have had to act quickly to service schools who were never their real customer base, as they mostly serviced corporate clients. Embedded in his message is a blog post on best security practices for Zoom, you can find that HERE. They also just recently published THIS blog post around Zoom and Encryption for Meetings/Webinars.
Additionally, HERE is a post that Zoom pushed out regarding their compliance with GPRD. I admit, I am no expert in GPRD compliance, but if this can help those who fall in this jurisdiction, then great.
Zoom also responded to their sharing of data with Facebook, that has now removed this. Article HERE
HERE is another ISC produced resource on suggested security settings for our staff in order to give them maximum controls over their meetings
Just released April 9 – Securing Your Zoom Meetings, with updated settings.
Here are a couple of articles I recommend pertaining to security:
Using Zoom while working from home? Here are the privacy risks to watch out for
Using Zoom? Here are the privacy issues you need to be aware of
What I have provided is only the iceberg of the information that is out there regarding Zoom. At time of publishing, a Google search of “Zoom Video Conferencing” produced almost 52 million results! When you look at how the usage rates have increased, mentioned above, this only makes sense. The media spotlight is going to highlight everything that Zoom is doing both good and bad. Zoom has a tremendous challenge over the next few months to keep up with this watchful eye, especially in the area of security. If you have any resources to share around Zoom, please do share!