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Zoom Video Conferencing Provides New Learning Opportunities for Higher Education

By January 15, 2019 July 1st, 2019 No Comments

Video conferencing has become a necessity in higher education, as it allows schools to expand their impact by offering new learning opportunities from across the world. Students can learn from guest lecturers literally located anywhere in the world. Collaboration via video conferencing becomes much simpler amongst educators and administrators, making it easier to attend meetings and conference calls.

Founded in 2011, Zoom Video Conferencing has developed into a successful leader in modern enterprise video communications. The technology brings businesses and organizations together for a frictionless environment wherein more can get accomplished despite life’s crazy schedules. This easy, reliable cloud platform for audio and video conferencing, chat, collaboration, and webinars across multiple desktops, mobile devices, room systems, and telephones is impacting lives and is the original software-based conference room solution used in many executives’ offices and the classroom.

“Zoom is only limited to one’s imagination,” said John J. O’Brien, Assistant Director of Academic Technology in Technical Support Services at Montclair State University (MSU). “With the addition of Zoom to MSU’s technology services, the most impressive benefits are how Zoom has raised the bar of what we can accomplish as one of New Jersey’s outstanding teaching and research universities. Zoom is a robust tool to enhance how MSU’s faculty, staff and students conduct research, teach, learn and work while simultaneously enhancing MSU’s ability to grow more nationally and globally in a collaborative, productive and efficient way.”

Zoom User Spotlight: Montclair State University

Initially, MSU started in a soft launch mode with Zoom and had 190 free basic users and 144 pro/premium users. The week of November 27, MSU introduced Zoom to the entire University and were excited by the large adoption rate. Their Project Management Office uses Zoom extensively for virtual meetings to expedite project development, workflow, spreadsheets, file sharing, exploring potential pain points, and reaching consensus before releasing very large IT projects to the campus. During MSU’s faculty and staff recruiting process, search committees use Zoom for a number of interviews.

MSU is also using Zoom for a number of research projects, partnering amongst MSU faculty and graduate students, Tufts University, Cornell, and UC Berkeley. Faculty are finding it easier to arrange guest speakers, whether they bring in an outside guest or remote lecturer to speak on a particular topic or language.

For example, Professor Patricia Matthew invited Professor Kerry Sinanan from the University of Texas, San Antonio to speak via a virtual lecture and question and answer section. The lecture was expanded beyond Matthew’s classroom and the entire campus was invited. The 200-seat lecture hall had three cameras and table top microphones in use.

“Professor Matthew said using Zoom made it possible for her group to have a real dialogue and ask specific questions,” O’Brien said.

Another example where Zoom was used recently at MSU was when Professor Lynne Van Voorhis, French Language Professor, connected her students with an interpreter. Miguel Garcia is a conference interpreter certified in three languages and has clients such as the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Trade & Development Agency, The Organization of American States, and The World Bank.

During the class, Mr. Garcia discussed the path from language learner to certified interpreter. He was able to see and hear MSU students, who were in turn able to question him about what life is like as a professional interpreter.

“Mr. Garcia lives in Washington, where he was at the time of the Zoom session, but he is often called upon to travel in and out of the U.S.,” O’Brien said. “It is reported that Mr. Garcia was both aspirational and inspirational for the MSU students. Zoom encouraged a lively discussion for all.”

Of the available Zoom features, MSU utilizes screen-sharing, chat, and phone bridging the most. As faculty become more accustomed to Zoom’s features, Cloud recording and polling are also anticipated to be popular characteristics. Closed captioning with a third party has become very important, and O’Brien said the feature will be used more frequently since the technology is ADA Compliant.

“MSU’s Instructional Designers do an outstanding job keeping faculty updated with technology solutions like Zoom,” he said. “We are also excited about other promising Zoom features, including Zoom Voice which is being released (announced at Zoomtopia 2018 Conference).”

Another feature MSU is reviewing is the Zoom Rooms. The feature requires a Mac Mini or an Intel NUC (small form factor pc computer). MSU, for the most part, is a BYOD (bring your own device) campus and adding additional computers to rooms at MSU isn’t on the current roadmap. MSU has over 400 mediated spaces, 26 with built-in cameras and microphones and a Vaddio AV Conference Bridge.

“As we launch Zoom, MSU is finding that with Zoom virtual rooms users don’t need to have a physical room. This being said, chances are, in the future, MSU might explore this option,” O’Brien said.

When elaborating on the launch, O’Brien was quick to note that the controlled launch had a major impact with people conducting research, big ERP type projects, and finance presentations. MSU quickly realized that positive word of mouth about Zoom resulted in droves of people leaving Skype, WebEx and Go-To-Meeting – once wildly popular tools.

He explained, “Zoom works so well that once folks experience Zoom, they never want to go back to other tools.” He continued, “For those who had their own Zoom business accounts, they discontinued their accounts and have now signed up for MSU’s Zoom accounts.”

Additional MSU users of Zoom include doctoral students and the PSE&G Institute for Sustainability which are using Zoom as they prepare for many upcoming webinars. MSU’s School of Business and IT have configured six Cisco SX80 Legacy H.323 to call the Zoom cloud. One SBUS professor, in particular, is connecting the Cisco H.323 unit to the Zoom cloud in order to record his classes.

Regarding webinars, MSU is receiving many questions regarding this feature especially from the College of Education and Human Services, College of Science and Mathematics, and the Graduate School. Future webinars may include virtual open houses to expand recruitment opportunities. MSU’s Rain Forest Live will be used by Dr. Jackie Willis from the Barrio Colorado Island in Panama this winter.

O’Brien is thankful for Edge’s ability to connect MSU to Zoom.

“Edge is an important team outside of MSU,” he said. “More than anything, Edge is responsible for making Zoom available to MSU and to all Edge members.”

Candace Fleming. Vice President & CIO for Information Technology, echoed O’Brien’s sentiments noting, “We couldn’t be more excited about the adoption of Zoom at MSU.” She continued, “The University’s participation in the Zoom program has netted impressive results and user-metrics. We look forward to seeing where Zoom will take MSU in the future.”

Zoom User Spotlight: Stockton University

With the opening of a beautiful, brand-new Atlantic City campus, Stockton University needed a better technological solution for real-time video communication between their sites. Stockton’s Information Technology Services performed an exhaustive examination of current solutions already leveraged by the University, along with countless other offerings available on the market.

Zoom Video Conferencing emerged as a clear choice for Stockton’s needs, and Edge was able to provide a seamless method to procure the licensing so all employees were covered at the University. The program allows users the ability to facilitate academic instruction, events, and meetings.

“Put simply, Zoom just works,” said Scott Huston, Chief Information Officer at Stockton University. “The University has had many video collaboration products at our disposal over the
past few years requiring cumbersome software installs, plug-ins, and machine configurations. Zoom has a plethora
of features that cover every use or case that we could think of and even provided us with options that we didn’t know that we needed until we started to use those features.”

Huston has also found Zoom to be very reliable and easy-to-use.

“The service works extremely well even over metered network connections,” he said.

Zoom has a simple-to-use user interface allowing operators the ability to easily schedule meetings, provide simple-to-use connection information, and has a multitude of ways for users to connect into a meeting. The most used and demanded function of Stockton’s Zoom deployment has been screen-sharing and the ability for other participants to share their screen.

“This ability has been crucial to our success with Zoom thus far, as well as the ability to share an entire screen, specific window, or just an application is a nice added benefit,” Huston said

While Stockton isn’t currently using some of Zoom’s enhanced features such as Zoom Rooms and Video Webinars, it is something the University is considering for the future.

“We haven’t started utilizing any of the enhanced Zoom features as of yet, but have been starting to receive requests for Video Webinars,” he said. “With the current success we have had, I would see Zoom being our best choice if we decide to provide webinar functionality in the future.”

Originally, Stockton didn’t envision the full magnitude of how Zoom would impact their University. Stockton Information Technology Services initially worked with a few campus advocates to promote Zoom throughout the University and the popularity quickly grew from there. Due to the ease of using the product and the integration with the University’s existing identity access solution, the need for Zoom training and IT support was minimal.

“We implemented the product, announced the offering through a simple email announcement, and members of the campus community took it from there adopting the use of Zoom at an amazing rate,” Huston said.

With over 500 meetings in the last three months, 50 participants from six different countries have joined together from nine different types of devices with Stockton faculty and administration for meetings. Zoom has made it easier for the University to provide distance education, collaborate with outside presenters, host meetings big and small, and provide a single platform to accommodate everyone’s video conferencing needs.

Michelle McDonald, Chief Officer for Academic Programming Atlantic City & Associate VP for Academic Affairs, recently just hosted the University’s first “Zoom Only” meeting with no physical meeting room reserved for attendees to participate. The meeting was very successful and plans for future “Zoom Only” meetings are already in the works allowing for participants to participate from multiple campuses without the strain on their already busy schedules.

The ‘record meeting’ functionality has become a very popular feature utilized heavily at Stockton. The recording function allows Zoom users to record their meetings and then share the event afterwards with attendees who were not able to participate for unforeseen circumstances or scheduling conflicts. Even after the meeting has ended, the record function has provided users the ability to continue a conversation.

“It allows for collaboration and gives our users more flexibility with how they create content and share information,” Huston said.

Zoom has also enabled Stockton to expand their University’s impact across geographies to reach more students. More individuals are able to attend and participate in meetings and events where they possibly could’ve missed prior to Zoom because of scheduling conflicts or travel requirements. Zoom has allowed Stockton’s faculty to conduct class from overseas or students the opportunity to attend class despite unforeseen circumstances.

Michael Hayse, Associate Professor of History and Holocaust Studies at Stockton, was recently in Germany to attend the installation of memorials for six victims of the Holocaust that he had arranged. Through the use of Zoom, Michael was still able to conduct class with his students back on campus without any interruption to their normal class schedule. He also consulted with graduate students and independent study students, both individually and in with small groups in conference video calls. He found it to be a great pedagogical experience. He intends to continue to use Zoom to host classes and attend meetings when traveling the world participating in scholarly activities.

“Zoom has been instrumental in increasing efficiencies in scheduling by allowing faculty and staff to participate in meetings remotely,” he said.

Most of all, Huston has been most impressed with how Zoom has created a technological solution for Stockton in an easy and effective way.

“Stockton University was built and thrives on the idea of collaboration and shared governance,” he said “The implementation of Zoom has allowed Stockton to continue to remain collaborative without the barriers of distance, location, or a huge reliance on IT staff.”

For those interested in learning more about Zoom Video Conferencing, check out the EdgeMedia page under the Solutions tab on the Edge website via njedge.net/solutions/edgemedia/ or contact the Edge team at info@NJEdge.net.