Hey folks, Phil Betts here with the boom boom on Zoom. We’ve been getting a lot of queries about using Zoom as a temporary alternative for on-campus classes in the event of remote teaching, so here’s an update with our current recommendations on how to approach this. I’ve written it in a handy Q&A format in which I both ask myself questions and answer them. There may be many more conversations with myself in future, so I figured I’d get the practice in.

Hi Phil, when should I use Zoom?

Hi Phil, we’re recommending Zoom be used as a replacement for smaller classes where there’s lots of interactivity (typically tutorials and seminars). We’d recommend:

  • keeping the size of Zoom Meetings to <50 students, as this keeps things manageable
  • you could probably handle 50-100 students if you’re experienced, or you had a second person to help manage interactions
  • large cohorts > 100 we’d recommend alternative models (keep reading!)

I am v. brave and/or have slight masochistic/megalomaniacal tendencies. What’s the actual maximum number of Zoom participants?

There is a default limit of 300 participants in any one Zoom Meeting. This can be increased to 500 on request. Lodge a generic ServiceConnect ticket with ITD if you would like one of the large licenses.

How should I handle group work in Zoom?

Zoom Break-Out Rooms (external guide) provide segmented spaces for students to talk (and you can move between them).

What should I do for my content-heavy and large classes?

For this, we’d definitely recommend asynchronous, pre-recorded content videos, uploaded to Kaltura. There are options available to record screens (eg. slides) in Powerpoint, Mac Quicktime and Windows Game Bar, but there’s a new tool we’re rolling out called Kaltura Capture Space, which will make the whole thing easier (hopefully less than a day or two away – watch this space!). In the meantime, you can drop into the LX.lab and we can walk you through your options.

If you make your content available through asynchronous video, you might like to host a shorter live Q&A session via Zoom (eg. half an hour at the usual scheduled time.)

How should I handle my audio for the Zoom classroom?

Zoom works on any computer (or mobile device), and generally speaking, the built-in microphones are of good enough quality for live sessions. If you wanted to improve it slightly, you’ll get better sound if you use the headphone/speakers that came with your phone. You generally don’t need a separate microphone.

Where can I run my Zoom lecture from? What if I co-facilitate it with someone?

Anywhere, pretty much! As I said it works on all devices, but there are a few additional places you can go. On campus, all classroom lectern computers have Zoom installed, so you can share the screen and use the lectern microphone (though they won’t have a camera.) You can just go to your regularly scheduled classroom to participate from an eerily silent place!

There are also a number of dedicated teleconference rooms around campus. They’re managed by the faculties rather than central booking, so your best bet is to check directly with your faculty admin. These rooms are good for multiple people presenting, as you it will pick up all audio and provide a video feed of the whole room.

What conditioner do you use?

I use Keep My Colour Blonde Conditioner (article), which has purple pigments to knock out any brassy tones. My hair is salt and pepperish, so I try to maintain a silvery sheen.

What do I need to tell my students?

About my hair? Oh, about Zoom. Well, there’s a student guide on the UTS public website (guide), and the LX.lab is putting together a PDF that coordinators can share directly with their students – details to come!

No love for Microsoft Teams?

For simplicity, we’re recommending using Zoom for live classes for domestic students. However, if you have offshore students in China, you may want to stick with Teams as their access is tested (although their timezones will be very different.)

Basically, if you’re starting out, use Zoom. But if you’re experienced and/or already using Teams, you can stick with that.

Where can I find out about how to use Zoom?

We have loads of resources! Might I suggest Getting Started With Zoom (guide) on this very website is an excellent place to… well… get started? It has links out to lots of technical how-to guides as well.

There’s series of online workshops starting tomorrow (Wednesday) which you might like to sign up for, and they’re continued during the week. Check out our Events page for the full listing.

Excelsior, and happy Zooming!

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