Zoom is a software that offers remote conferencing services combining video conferencing, audio conferencing, online meetings, chats, and mobile collaboration for up to 500 participants (only in paid-for plans). Additionally, it offers a host of supplementing functions that make it possible – with fairly little practice – to host classes almost as if on campus. The most useful such functions for classes are

– easy screen sharing;
– comfortable recording and even automated transciptions;
– breakout rooms for group work; and
– whiteboards for whole class and/or breakout rooms.

Zoom is available for all platforms and devices. While management of meetings etc. is handled in any of the common browsers, before joining the first Zoom meeting, participants must install a small standalone application (approx. 75MB).

On their homepage Zoom offer extensive support materials including a very comprehensive online video library with tutorials.


Zoom Video Communications (USA)

Zoom offers a free basic plan that allows meetings of up to 100 individuals with many of its common functionalities. While that would usually be enough for probably most studio classes, the setback is that all meetings are limited to 40 minutes only. After that all meeting participants have to join the next meeting – which is possible. Nonetheless, for a smooth un-disrupted class plus a variety of additional functions – e.g. reports incl. attendance – it’s probably necessary to buy one of their paid-for plans.

Tutorial (by third party):

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Peter Benz


  • NOTE: Just realised that Zoom recordings include a text protocol of all the chats in the chat room, including the private ones. I.e. the recorder of any meeting may later read all ongoing private conversations; if the entire recording folder is shared uncritically, all private messages will become public. This should be a major privacy concern.

  • UPDATE: To address the issue of “ZOOM bombing” (=participants unexpectedly sharing inappropriate content through the screen sharing function during a meeting), ZOOM recently released an update, to give meeting hosts (=teachers) more control over their meetings effective from 28 March 2020.

    The screen sharing setting of all host accounts has been set as “Only Host” by default. This default setting gives exclusively hosts permission to share content via their screen. To give others permission to share their screen, click the arrow to the right of the “Screen Sharing” icon, select Advanced Sharing Options and select “All Participants”.

    If you want to give also participants the screen sharing permission at your next meeting, simply click the arrow to the right of the Screen Sharing icon, select Advanced Sharing Options and select All Participants.

  • NOTE: Zoom does not allow pre-arranging groups into breakout rooms. When the moment comes to break up, the host (=instructor) may either assign groups randomly or manually; the latter will however usually take some time, especially in large classes. It will therefore probably be necessary to take a short break at this point, during which all participants need to stay logged in, otherwise Zoom won’t find them and they may not be assigned.

  • TIP: Zoom allows to switch on “virtual backgrounds” to obscure anything other than the meeting participant – including e.g. other people or movements. This is a nice feature to deal with some privacy concerns, and I’d generally recommend staff and students to use this function.

    It has become quite common – even fashionable – for Zoom users to create their own virtual backdrops. I found that this makes a nice initial exercise to do with students when getting started on Zoom.

  • TIP: You may log into a Zoom meeting with two devices, e.g. a laptop and your work email plus your mobile phone and personal email. In that way, you may use the two cameras for different purposes, e.g. the laptop cam for more static frontal instruction, and the handheld phone cam to more flexibly follow demonstrations of processes or techniques.

By Peter Benz



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