As schools have had to suddenly shift to offering online classes and assignments, there has been a huge uptick in usage of Zoom, a service that offers online video conferencing.
We’re using it with Flex Academies ONE to get the most out of its features and give our students the best possible online learning experience. While you’ll find other services available online that allow you to get groups of students together, Zoom is generally the one that comes with the strongest recommendations.
Here are just a few of the reasons why Zoom is ideal for online and how we’re making use of it:
Communication controls: Zoom has a lot of versatility with the kinds of communication it allows. For our purposes, we implement stringent controls on communication as a safety feature for the children involved.
Nonverbal feedback: If the host enables nonverbal feedback, this means participants can put an icon next to their name to communicate without having to talk and disrupt the meeting. For example, “Raise hand” puts up the raise hand icon, which would be the virtual replacement for raising a hand with a question or an answer in a classroom.
Large class sizes possible: Other video conferencing services have a much lower cap on the number of people who can conference in at once. We’re able to get entire classes of children in for enrichment activities, so there’s no need for us to cut down the sizes of our programs. By the way, our maximum number of kids in a class is 28.
Screen sharing: Zoom has built-in screen sharing functionality. Depending on the kind of enrichment course this could be a very useful tool, as it allows instructors to easily share what they’re doing on their computer. For example, they might guide children on virtual tours or sharing videos.
Whiteboarding: The whiteboard feature in Zoom allows users to share a whiteboard. The instructor for our enrichment activities can use this feature to write notes, just as if they were writing notes down on a whiteboard in a classroom.
High-def video and audio: A big draw for kids in Flex Academies ONE activities is that they get to see their friends face to face, even despite being physically isolated from them. Zoom has high-definition video and audio to make these interactions much more enjoyable for all the students involved. This also helps for interactions with the instructor, as it allows their voices to come through crisply and clearly.
Local recording: Students can record the sessions locally so they can go back and perform activities later by themselves or with their parents. It’s also a great way for parents to keep up with what their children are doing in the programs.
These are just a few examples of some of the many features that make Zoom the perfect tool for online instruction, both for teachers and afterschool enrichment providers. We encourage parents to become familiar with this tool as well. Not only will we be using it for Flex Academies ONE, but it is also poised to be a significant part of children’s education during the COVID-19 pandemic, and even afterward as more schools provide a wider variety of online offerings.