By Stephanie Blas, Skyline Reporter
Due to the recent Covid-19 virus, many schools and universities have closed physical campuses to slow or stop the propagation of the virus. But classes have not stopped. Since the closures, it seems the entire world—universities included—have moved to long-distance video conferencing apps like Zoom (and, for us, Blackboard Collaborate). These apps are being widely used to hold classes, despite the various “wherevers” students and professors may be. How great is that! It truly is, but this brave new world reveals that, as in all classroom experiences, some rules of engagement are warranted.
Here are a few tips as to how most successfully utilize and appear on Zoom (or any public video platform) most appropriately:
Your background. When attending a meeting on Zoom, the users must be aware that the other participants can see what’s behind them. Yes! Believe it or not, everyone in the conference or virtual classroom can see your messy bed or untidy room. Don’t worry, we are not telling you to clean your room or make your bed—just simply be aware of what’s behind you. Camera angles work miracles. Just by positioning the camera or your laptop, tablet, phone in a certain manner, a lot remains hidden, while still maintaining your face on video. Work the angle or push the clutter to the side where its not visible to other viewers—simple and easy. Practice this beforehand—nothing worse that realizing your messiest room and trying to re-angle during class!
Your appearance/actions. Here goes an important one that seems to becoming increasingly challenging for us all: Make sure you are dressed accordingly in the videos for the occasion. No, we are not asking for your Sunday best, but please have a shirt and pants on. Although many may argue that other viewers can’t see your legs, you never know when you must stand up and leave the viewers with a lasting unfavorable impression of you. As for actions, please be mindful that everyone can see you, unless you consciously turn off your video camera. Be mindful of others because we are all looking straight at one another rather than just at our instructor. Besides, we’re all supposed to be keeping our hands off our faces. Oh, stay off your Snapchat. It was rude and distracting in MAB 106, and it’s just the same in Zoom 101.
Video and audio. Before starting the scheduled meeting time, please make sure that your camera and microphone are working. You should always be prepared beforehand—for each new platform, try things out early to make sure they work and, if not, to arrange a fix or alternate arrangements. Struggling to set up your video conference capabilities during class wastes a lot of time for everyone and will give you (and, frankly, your instructor) unnecessary anxiety. Test your camera and microphone beforehand for a successful meeting.
Noise. Please try to keep outside noise to a minimum, as it is distracting for everyone. A good tip is to keep your microphone on mute while you are not talking so that others cannot hear what’s happening on your end. It also minimizes unwanted noise feedback.
Leaving meetings. When you need to step out or leave a meeting on Zoom, please make sure to let others know. As it is disrespectful to suddenly see a “Jane/John Doe” left the meeting. If you do not want to interrupt, there is a chat option for the meeting and you may let everyone know that you are leaving or stepping out without verbally disrupting the meeting.
Chat option. One of the cool options on Zoom is the chat function. While the meeting is going on, you can “chat” typed questions or comments with everyone or just one person at the time about what is being discussed. You may share links, photos, and messages, but be aware that these messages as well as other media are permanently recorded minutes of the meeting that the person who hosted (e.g. your professor) the video is able to see and read them all, even those sent to your bff only. Please be mindful and respectful about what is chatted about in the meeting.
Safety tips. Many hackers are now aware of the booming popularity of Zoom; therefore, there have been many incidents of what has been coined Zoombombing. To help avoid this, make your meeting private. Once all the participants are present, lock your meeting so no one else may join it. Do not share the code or link you receive from Zoom with anyone. Make sure the link you receive says, https://zoom.us/ followed by a series of numbers that redirect you to the meeting. If the link does not look like that, beware, as it can be someone else and not your boos or professor sending that link. Also make sure that you as the host are the only one able to send the codes and links to those that you want to be involved in the meeting. It is also smart to choose the option of a password for the meetings—these allow for a second level of privacy defense.
That’s it for today on Zoom tips to promote successful classes and meetings. Remember, respect others so you will be respected. And work them camera angles!
Image from www.zoom.us