Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, teleconferencing tools have exploded. More and more people relying on video conferencing solutions such as Google Meet and Skype to stay connected while remaining at home. One popular video conferencing app is Zoom.
If you discover that you need to make use of Zoom for a class or online activity, we’ve put together a simple guide for parents and students on how make use of Zoom.
Our suggestion is also to try out Zoom beforehand so that you get familiar with it. This would save a lot of scrambling about when you finally do need to use it.
What is Zoom?
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Zoom is a free video conferencing solution (at least for participants). It allows multiple people to come together online and thus has been popular choice for online classes and lessons.
To make use of Zoom, you would need a computer, iPad or a smart phone like an iPhone or Android phone. The device should have a camera if you intend to do video conferencing. If not, you will be reduced to just audio conferencing.
Creating a Zoom Account
While you don’t need to have a Zoom account to join a meeting as a participant, it is helpful to have an account. Having a Zoom account allows to update your profile settings or even host your own meetings.
When you open up the client / app, you will have the option to sign up your free Zoom account using your email.
How to Join a Zoom Meeting / Online Class
In order to join a meeting, you will receive an invitation via email or other channels such as WhatsApp.
Make sure that the invitation is from a trusted sender.
The invitation message should look like this:
To join the meeting, you can either click on the weblink, or enter in the Meeting ID and Password on the Zoom app / client.
When you enter into the video conference, you have the choice of either having your video on or off. Once inside, you should also be able to see the other meeting participants.
In the Zoom meeting, you should be able to see the other participants (assuming they have their cameras on). There are different views available – speaker view and gallery view. The button to toggle between the various views is at the top right of the screen on the computer desktop app.
Let us walk you through what you can do at this screen, based on the computer app interface.
At the bottom of the screen is a black bar. From left to right, the functions are:
Mute: This turns on and off your microphone. As a pro tip, if there are many people in the conference, you can set this to mute so that it doesn’t become too “noisy”. If you want to speak, press and hold the Space Bar. This will turn on the mic to allow you to speak. Once done speaking, let go of the Space Bar to go back to mute.
Stop/Start Video: This turns on and off the video function. One feature here is that you can add a Virtual Background. You will need to download a virtual background pack and you can choose one to mask your real background. This feature is useful if you don’t want to show everyone what your home looks like. Some of the virtual backgrounds include scenes such as the Golden Gate Bridge or Outer Space. If that’s too weird to show your teacher and other online participants, just find a spot at home with a plain background instead. There are some minimum requirements for virtual backgrounds.
Invite: This can be used to add people to the conference. If it is an online class, the teacher would have already invited people to the group.
Manage Participants: This opens up a side bar and allows you to see who is in the group. On a computer client / app, if you hover your cursor over your name, you have the option to change your name and profile picture.
Share Screen: This allows you to share a specific screen on your computer, the entire screen or open up a whiteboard to share with other participants.
Chat: This opens up a side bar with a chat function. There is also a function to allow the sharing of files too.
Record: This allows you to record the session.
Reactions: This allows you to give a “thumbs up” or “clap”.
Raise Hand / Lower Hand: Participants can also get the attention of the Host without interrupting the flow of the presentation by using a “Raise Hand” button. This flags out the Host that the participant has something to ask. The “Lower Hand” button brings down the hand.
End Meeting: Use this to leave the Zoom session.
Troubleshooting & Help
Sometimes, technology can be trip up. If you need any help with the technical setup for your Zoom, you can try referring to the Zoom Help Center. There are videos and articles which cover common topics such as configuring the audio and video.
Here is the link to the Zoom Help Center.
There have been security and data issues flagged about Zoom. While they are beyond the scope of this article, you can read more about them here.
One point to highlight is to make use of the latest and most up-to-date Zoom client / app. These would contain the latest fixes which have been made.
A lot of the security also lies with the person who is organising the Zoom meetings. At the basic level, the organiser should make use of the “Waiting Room” feature to control who can enter the meetings and set passwords for the Zoom session so that only authorised persons can join.
Zoom has been making security updates in response to recent bad press. Hopefully, they will roll out the fixes quickly so that it is more secure for its users.
Three Tips for Those Hosting Zoom Meetings
Finally, three bonus point for those who may be hosting Zoom meetings.
First, get to know the security settings for Zoom better. Make sure to use the “Waiting Room” feature and set a password for the Zoom meeting so that you can avoid “Zoombombers”. You can also lock the meeting once all participants are in. These features are all available from the Security icon at the bottom of the screen for Hosts. Get more Zoom security tips here.
Secondly, Hosts should take note of is that if you remove participants out of the Zoom meeting, by default, they will not be able to join back in using the same email address. Therefore, only remove participants if you are very certain they are not supposed to be in the meeting. If you want to change the setting to allow removed participants to rejoin, follow the steps here.
Third, if you are the Host, it is best to have a stable internet connection. One way to do so is to make use of a wired LAN cable to connect to the internet, rather than using Wi-Fi, especially if you have a lot of participants. A chain is only as strong as the weakest link.