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How-To Guide to Using Zoom for Your Online Learning Courses

What is Zoom and how does this virtual conferencing platform allow college students to connect with their instructors and peers? Get a basic overview of Zoom if you’re using it for online learning or group projects in your classes.

A man using Zoom on his smartphone

Although the deadly coronavirus known as COVID-19 is causing large portions of the country to shut down completely, Saint Leo University is committed to helping its students continue to meet their educational goals during this difficult time. That’s why we’ve worked hard to transition all of our courses online, giving you the opportunity to attend your classes even while self-isolating at home. One platform that has proven extremely valuable for this purpose is Zoom.

What Is Zoom?

If you’re not familiar, Zoom is an Internet-based platform that offers video conferencing, phone conferencing, chat messaging, and a variety of other services that enable people to connect when it isn’t possible or feasible to get together in person.

The nice thing about Zoom is that you can use it on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone – whatever type of device you have available to you. Plus, it costs nothing to sign up for this service, so you’re not increasing your expenses by using this particular platform.

Zoom’s Value in an Online Learning Setting

Many businesses already use Zoom to hold meetings with employees and colleagues stationed in different locations. However, this platform also provides a great deal of value when used for educational purposes.

First, it enables you to connect with your instructors when you’re unable to meet in person. Whether this means logging in to see live presentations designed to educate an entire class or scheduling a one-on-one video meeting so you can ask questions about a specific assignment or exam, Zoom makes it possible to actually see and interact with each other. This can be especially beneficial to visual learners who rely on their eyes to take in and process the information presented.

With Zoom, you can also connect with other students who are learning from home. If you have a group project, for instance, you can schedule a video conference to talk about what you’re going to do or discuss your progress. Or maybe you just want to talk to other people in your class in an effort to expand your network. Zoom is good for that too!

How to Use Zoom

There are two ways to use Zoom. The first is to join a meeting set by someone else, such as an instructor or other student. This option doesn’t even require that you set up an account. (Though, if you’re attending from a cell phone or tablet, you will have to download the Zoom app and if you’re attending via computer, it may prompt you to download the necessary program.)

To use Zoom this way, go to the “Join a Meeting” webpage and enter the meeting ID number or personal link name that you received from the person initiating the meeting. This will take you to the video or audio page where all attendees can interact in whatever fashion the meeting host designated.

The second way to use Zoom is to host a meeting yourself. This option can be used with or without video, or you can use it to simply share your computer screen with others. To take advantage of this option, you must create a Zoom account.

To do this, sign up with your email address and then create a password for your account. As with any other password-protected platform, the stronger your password the better. This helps prevent anyone from hacking into your account.

Once your account is created, you are provided a unique meeting ID. This ID can be given to anyone you wish to meet with via this platform, giving you virtual conference room to hold your meeting and discuss whatever you want or need to discuss.

Zoom Live Training

If you get lost at any point in the process or are having trouble using this online platform, Zoom offers a variety of daily live training webinars designed to help you better use its services. Just pick the time that works best for you and you can get hands-on instruction from one of their in-house experts.

One of these live trainings is designed for students and educators specifically. And if you don’t want to participate in the live training, there is a pre-recorded session you can watch when it is most convenient for you. It’s only 45 minutes long and shares tips for using Zoom for educational purposes.

In all, Zoom is fairly easy to use and allows you to connect with instructors and other students when you can’t get together in person. This offers a classroom type of feel, even when you’re learning from home.

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