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Zoom in for class on snow and flu days

On Monday, before it snowed enough to close campus, I ran in to a faculty colleague in Clarke hall. We commiserated about the weather for a few minutes, and then she lamented that several of her students had contacted her saying they couldn’t make it to class due to the snow.

It was snowing.

“I choose to believe them,” she said, a choice I fully support. But that doesn’t have to be the end of class for those snow-bound students. We often think about zoom as a tool for online courses, but zoom can work very effectively for synchronous, on-campus classes as well.

Last spring, in fact, I gave a workshop in which half the participants were in a room with me, and the other half were participating online, through zoom. Zoom allowed me to share informational slides with both groups, and even let me put the online participants into small groups, just as I was did with the in-person participants. Zoom even has a whiteboard option.

To get started, you will need:
Access to the internet and a camera, microphone, and speakers. When I facilitated the workshop, I just used my laptop and connected it to the classroom projector.

A zoom account. You can create a free account at https://zoom.us/. Or you can request a pro account from ITS using their ticket system.

Note that with a free account, your group session is limited to 40 minutes. That does not have to be a drawback in a longer class. Just let everybody take a 5 minute break, end your meeting, and then ask the online participants to sign in again. The 5 minute break will also help your students retain information.


You also need Nicole Marcisz’s Booklet on using zoom. Nicole is an Instructional Designer in ID&T and has developed this booklet to help faculty adopt zoom.

One additional useful tool is the Personal Meeting Room ID, which can sometimes be more convenient than scheduling individual meetings.

So the next time the weather (or a flu epidemic) makes it difficult for your students to get to class, consider using zoom.
Better yet, consider it ahead of time and plan accordingly.

–Your friendly, neighborhood CETL Director.

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