The world around us is quickly changing. We’re moving at the speed of light these days and with 5G coming on stream around the world, country by country, being technologically slick, is imperative now more than ever. In Trinidad and Tobago and across the Caribbean, we’re still lagging behind to some extent, ill equipped to enjoy seamless at- home study and with online classroom options like Google Classroom available, it’s hard to believe that we’re not there yet.

In the past couple months, many have heard of the ZOOM platform. Some have been using it seamlessly for immediate group interaction and conference calls and some teachers have also been utilising the platform to teach their students while they’re unable to be in the classroom. It’s proven effective for many. For others however, the transition to making ZOOM an effective tool during COVID-19 lockdown, has proven difficult. With that, we’ve decided to give you a quick run though, so even if you’re just catching up, maybe you’ll get a little gas going into the rest of this week.

What is Zoom?

In the most simple terms, ZOOM is an online method of meeting face to face with others. Remember Skype? It’s pretty much similar to Skype, however, this platform allows for several people to meet at any one time, and it allows for the meeting to be recorded. Conversations can be audio only or both audio and video.

When people are talking about Zoom, you’ll usually hear the following phrases: Zoom Meeting and Zoom Room. A Zoom Meeting refers to a video conferencing meeting that’s hosted using Zoom. You can join these meetings via a webcam or phone. Meanwhile, a Zoom Room is the physical hardware setup that lets companies schedule and launch Zoom Meetings from their conference rooms. Zoom Rooms require an additional subscription on top of a Zoom subscription and are usually used by larger companies.

ZOOM FEATURES

Here are Zoom’s core features:

  1. One-on-one meetings: Host unlimited one-on-one meetings even with the free plan.
  2. Group video conferences: Host up to 500 participants (if you purchase the “large meeting” add-on). The free plan, however, allows you to host video conferences of up to 40 minutes and up to 100 participants.
  3. Screen sharing: Meet one-on-one or with large groups and share your screen with them so they can see what you see. 

HOW DOES ZOOM WORK?

Choose your plan

Zoom allows one-to-one chat sessions that can grow into group calls, training sessions and webinars for internal and external audiences, and global video meetings with up to 1,000 participants and as many as 49 on-screen videos. The free tier allows unlimited one-on-one meetings but limits group sessions to 40 minutes and 100 participants. Paid plans start at $15 per month per host.

Zoom offers four pricing tiers (not including a Zoom Room subscription):

  1. Zoom Free: This tier is free. You can hold an unlimited number of meetings. Group meetings with multiple participants are capped at 40 minutes in length, and meetings can’t be recorded.
  2. Zoom Pro: This tier costs $14.99/£11.99 per month and meeting host. It allows hosts to create personal meeting IDs for repetitive Zoom Meetings, and it allows meeting recording in the cloud or your device, but it caps group meeting durations at 24 hours.
  3. Zoom Business: This tier costs $19.99/£15.99 per month and meeting host (10 minimum). It lets you brand Zoom meetings with vanity URLs and company branding, and it offers transcripts of Zoom meetings recorded in the cloud, as well as dedicated customer support.
  4. Zoom Enterprise: This tier costs $19.99/£15.99 per month and per meeting host (100 minimum) and is meant for businesses with 1,000+ employees. It offers unlimited cloud storage for recordings, a customer success manager, and discounts on webinars and Zoom Rooms.
  5. Optional – Zoom Rooms: If you want to set up Zoom Rooms, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial, after which Zoom Rooms require an additional $49/£39 per month and room subscription, while webinars using Zoom cost $40/£32 per month and host.

DOWNLOADING ZOOM.

The desktop app is available for Windows and macOS, while the mobile app is available for your smart devises, whether Android devises like Samsung or iOS devises.

All the apps let you join a meeting without signing in, but also let you sign in using a Zoom account, Google, Facebook, or SSO. From there, you can start a meeting, join a meeting, share your screen in a Zoom Room by entering the meeting ID, start Zoom Meetings, mute/unmute your mic, start/stop the video, invite others to the meeting, change your screen name, do in-meeting chat, and start a cloud recording.

If you’re a desktop user, you can also start a local recording, create polls, broadcast your Facebook live on Facebook, and more. In other words, the desktop app is more fully featured, although, if you’re a free user, you can still get a lot of mileage from the mobile app.

A good tip when you’ve got a number of planned Zoom meetings is to download the appropriate Zoom extensions or your web browser such as Zoom Chrome extension or the Zoom Firefox add-on. These let you schedule a Zoom meeting via Google Calendar. A simple click on the Zoom button and you can start a meeting or schedule one for later with all the information on the meeting being sent via Google Calendar to make it easy for participants to join.  

Happy Zooming!