The challenges posed by the COVID19 pandemic on us are manifold with schools forced to be shut in order to check the spread of the virus and mitigate casualties. The closure of schools, however need not deter schools like yours from imparting education. This is the time for technological tools to be leveraged to the hilt to ensure that your students continue their pursuit of education by taking classrooms into the comfort of their homes.
Through this ‘Technologies for School Resilience’ blog series, we at Gray Matters Capital as well as the education finance entities we support – Indian School Finance Company Ltd. (India), EdFin MFB (Nigeria) and Taleem Finance Company Ltd. (Pakistan) plan to focus on certain free-to-use online tools and technologies, adopted by schools from around the world to help those in the Affordable Private School (APS) category run their classes remotely and ensure that the students do not suffer because of school closures.
In today’s blog, we introduce our school partners to a video conferencing tool called Zoom to help them conduct classes remotely.
What is Zoom?
Zoom is a leader in enterprise video communication with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems.
Zoom offers free 40 minute meetings sessions on its basic accounts which is ideal for K-12 schools. It is in the process of lifting this 40 minute limit for all schools across the world.
How to get a free online account?
Administrators, staff and teachers can sign up with their respective work email addresses as credentials.
If the sign up is done using social media credentials (Facebook and Google), you can still have a basic account, but the waiver of the 40 minute time limit for the classes may not be applicable.
How to have the 40-minute time limit temporarily removed for your school’s free basic accounts?
- Have a member of the school fill out this form to request the temporary removal.
- Upon verification, all free Basic accounts using the school’s email domain will have the time restriction lifted.
Now your teachers will be able to log in, schedule their classes, and send out invites to students. Students are not required to have a Zoom account. However, they need to download the Zoom app on their device and can join classes using the links sent from the teacher.
Zoom account features & benefits
Zoom offers robust collaboration and engagement tools as part of its standard free license, including the ability to connect using VoIP or via traditional phone when internet is not available. Administrators, teachers, parents, and students also have access to:
- Unlimited meetings for up to 100 participants
- HD audio and video
- Screen sharing
- Breakout Rooms
- Virtual backgrounds
- In-meeting chat
- Local recording
- Nonverbal feedback
Download the guide to use Zoom for online classes here.
Curated Video Links to give you an overview of Classes on Zoom
Replacing the Blackboard in a physical class with the Whiteboard on Zoom: Watch Video
The Annotation feature – A teacher’s new Chalk/ Marker: Watch Video
How to run classes on Zoom
- For your first class, set aside some time to introduce your students to Zoom and ensure that they’re able to connect their audio and video.
- Give an agenda or plan for each class by Screen Sharing a document or slide at the beginning of class. This gives students a clear idea of how the class will progress, what will be covered, and the activities they’ll engage in.
- Discuss online etiquette and expectations of the students in your first virtual class and periodically revisit the topics.
- Utilize the Whiteboard or Annotate a shared document and let your students engage as well. When sharing a whiteboard, document, screen, or image, try whiteboarding math problems or have a student use annotation to highlight items such as grammar mistakes in a paper you’re sharing.
- Take time to promote questions, comments, and reactions from your class. Give a minute to allow your students to utilize reactions, write their questions in chat, or be unmuted to ask their questions live.
- Divide into smaller groups for a discussion on a certain topic. You can use Zoom’s Breakout Room feature to either pre-assign or auto-assign students into groups for a short period of time so they may discuss things together.
- Have students be the presenter and share projects with the class. This allows your students to show what they’re working on while practising their presentation skills. It also allows students to hear from each another and also collaborate.
Other tools to conduct ‘Live’ classes online
If Zoom does not suit your needs, there are a number of other tools as well. You can try:
- Dingtalk – A communication platform that supports video conferencing, task and calendar management, attendance tracking and instant messaging.
- Hangouts Meet – Video calls integrated with Google’s G-Suite tools.
- Lark – Collaboration suite of interconnected tools, including chat, calendar, creation and cloud storage, in Japanese, Korean, Italian and English.
- Teams – Chat, meet, call and collaboration features integrated with Microsoft Office software.
- Skype – Video and audio calls with talk, chat and collaboration features.
Watch this blogspace of GMC Speak for more recommendations from our end to make your school’s offline to online transition for facilitating remote learning as seamless as possible. Do share your feedback on the recommendations in the comments section below.