Running Classes Online
Updated: 4-Apr-20, version 1.3
Zoom Update 5th April 2020To prevent the possibility of uninvited participants, Zoom now applies session passwords by default. This means that encrypted information is appended to the Meeting Room address. When you open the Zoom app, please check Meetings > Show Meeting Invitation for the current meeting information applicable to you. It will now look something like this:
Join Zoom Meeting
Zoom have also enabled Waiting Room by default. This prevents anyone from joining before you start the meeting, and also means that you may be asked to Admit attendees using the Participants menu. You may find that under the Meetings > Edit menu that Waiting Room needs to be Enabled to use this feature.
You can update these and other Settings by logging in to your account on the Zoom website under Admin > Account Settings.
Zoom is basically it is a video-conferencing application but with the ability to show presentations, documents and videos to participants. It is best suited to classes where the tutor does a presentation, but can allow participants to interact by voice, video or text chat.
There is no cost to use the Basic Plan, but it is limited to 40-minute sessions unless you want to pay $23 per month for the Pro version. Up to 100 participants are permitted to join a Zoom meeting. It is very easy to use and participants join by clicking on an emailed link. (In one test we found that Zoom extended the session time indefinitely at the 35-minute mark. It is possible this may happen when the US load is lower, e.g. after 3pm Qld time. You may be lucky.)
Tutors need to create an account using the Zoom Sign-Up page. You will need to provide a name, email address and password. You will be assigned a Personal Meeting Room, which is a link you can email to students. Students just need to click on that link to join your meeting. The first time they join they will be asked to install or download an app, but they can also pre-install the app (see information below under Participants).
You can use any computer or device to run a meeting (Windows or Mac PC, laptop, iPad, Android tablet, phone). If you want to use video, which is the preferred method, you will need a device with a camera and microphone. For a desktop computer, this would typically involve a webcam and microphone headset. Most laptops come equipped with camera and microphone as do iPads and tablets. We do not recommend hosting Zoom meetings with a phone. It is possible, but more difficult because of the limited screen size. Students can use a phone if they wish.
Starting a meeting
If this is your first meeting, and you want to use an Apple or Android tablet install the Zoom Cloud Meetings app. For a Windows or Mac PC, install the Zoom Client for Meetings from the Zoom Download Center.
In advance of the meeting, send an email to your students, either privately or using the U3A Tutor login, with the time of the class/meeting and the link to your Personal Meeting Room. It will look like this:
If you haven't recorded your Personal Meeting Room link, open the Zoom app and click on Meetings in the top menu. Click on the Edit button. You may wish to change the default video and audio status at meeting startup. Click Save. Click on Show Meeting Invitation and you will see the link:
Join Zoom Meeting
where nnnnnnnnnn is your personal meeting id. Save that link and you can use it for all future meetings.
Zoom have made session passwords the default (you can also set this manually through your login settings). This does not mean your participants need to enter a password however. A long encrypted form of the password is embedded in the link you forward, e.g.
This prevents an uwanted interloper from joining your meeting by guessing the numeric meeting id.
When you are ready to start, click on the blue Start button. You can choose to host with or without video (i.e. camera) but clearly it will be more effective with video.
You can share any screen that is open on your device. To share a PowerPoint slideshow, open the slideshow in a window and go to full screen mode. Then return to the Zoom window, click Share and select the PowerPoint window.
The Zoom window has a menu at the bottom that you use to manage the meeting. To close the meeting click on Leave Meeting at the right of the menu.
The first time you try Zoom, you might be best to test it with one or two participants.
Screen Sharing - Important
To prevent participants from inadvertently sharing their screen with the meeting: In the host controls, click the arrow next to Share Screen and click Advanced Sharing Options. Set it to "One participant can share at a time" and "Only Host can share". You will then need to give permission to a selected participant if you wish a class member to do a presentation. You can do this by enabling a participant to be the temporary host (through Participants menu).
Managing a Class
For a class where the tutor talks and presents slides, participants don't need to use a camera. They can choose to use audio only, but this may be a challenge to manage since anyone with a microphone can talk. The host (tutor) can turn off both video or audio for any participant, and students can still interact via the Chat facility. Some ground rules may need to be established, depending on the size of the class and the nature of the presentation.
Anyone using a camera will require reasonable upstream bandwidth. Any NBN plan of 25Mbps or above will meet the requirement. If you have ADSL or a 4G connection, the camera video signal may stutter. Participants operating passively, i.e. viewing the content without using a camera, should be fine with any broadband connection.
Keep Uninvited Guests out of your Zoom Event
There are many Zoom tutorials available, but it is so easy to use that you may not need them.
See Attending Online Classes page.
If you have any tips or suggestions for additional information to add to this page, you are welcome to send to the help address.