How to Zoom: An Introduction

By: Artie Berns, Research/Emerging Technologies Librarian, Western New England University, School of Law

With the coronavirus giving many of us a reason to work from home a, wouldn’t it be nice if there was some sort of app to do video conferencing and screen sharing? Actually, there are quite a few: Skype, Google Hangouts, and many others. Many of them provide users with a free option to do video conferencing. In this post, I have been asked to talk about one in particular: Zoom. Given our circumstances, I thought it would be good to create a step by step guide on using Zoom.[1]

Many of you are probably familiar with Zoom already. I had many Zoom meetings even before I became explicitly aware of its existence; I would follow the link provided when others would invite me to a Zoom meeting without paying much attention to the platform they used.

Earlier in this school year, I was shopping for a screen sharing tool to assist our LLM students remotely[2] and a colleague suggested Zoom. With the free account, users have unlimited one-on-one meetings and screen sharing options; this seemed like a good choice for what I intended.

I’ve asked my good friend and fellow AALL member Mandy Lee from Chicago-Kent College of Law Library to help with this post by having a Zoom meeting with me.

To hold a Zoom meeting, you’ll first need an account. To sign up for Zoom, follow this link, then follow the directions to create an account. Even if you don’t have an account, you probably already have Zoom’s client program since it gets downloaded if you attend a Zoom meeting.

Assuming you have an account and the client, to start a one-on-one-meeting, start the client and sign in to your account.

Once you’re logged in, hit the New Meeting button.

This begins your meeting and, by default, will give you the option of setting up your audio. If you are new to using Zoom, you should test your microphone and speakers before joining the meeting. There are also options to call into the session. Checking your audio before joining will help ensure your meeting runs more smoothly.

Once you confirm your audio is working, you will be in your personal meeting room. Congratulations, you have started your first Zoom meeting.

Right now, it’s a meeting of one. By clicking on Invite Others, you’ll get a pop-up screen with methods for sending invitations. Zoom will automatically populate your Contacts screen with other people who are signed up for Zoom and have the same domain as you in their email addresses. You can also hit the Copy Invitation button and send several options for joining your Zoom meeting will be placed in your clipboard that you can then paste into an email message.

Here I’m sending the copied invitation information to Mandy.

Since I’m using the free version and I’m not sure how long the meeting will last, I’m not inviting more than one person. I could have a meeting of up to 100 people using the free version, but the meeting would be limited to 40 minutes. To get longer group meetings, I would need to upgrade my plan. The Pro plan is the next tier up and costs $14.99/month. You can explore Zoom plan options here.

A few minutes after I sent the invitation, Mandy joined the meeting with her video off.

She was able to turn her video on by hovering over the Zoom client window, so her controls appeared, then hitting Start Video.

Notice how Mandy’s video has a yellow outline? That signifies she is the one who either is talking or has talked most recently. Now that we were both on video we decided to take a virtual work-from-home coffee break before moving on.

Having caffeinated ourselves properly, it was time to get back to work.

First, some screen sharing. You can screen share by hovering over the client and hitting Share Screen. This launches a dialog box with all of the options for sharing the screen. Options include sharing whatever is on the screen currently, a Whiteboard, an iPhone or iPad, or any application currently open on your computer.

Initially, I chose whiteboard, just to see how it works. Whiteboard is built into Zoom and seems to be a convenient way to communicate visually.

Next, I intended to screen-share a blog post that I was working on at the time. Instead, my cat Burnley decided to Zoombomb our virtual meeting.

I understand that this can be a problem when hosting a Zoom meeting, but I was surprised one of my family members decided to engage in such behavior. You can prevent users from Zoombombing your meeting by going to the Advanced Sharing Options menu and limiting who can share to the host.[3]

After Burnley’s interference subsided, I was able to screen share my blog post in progress with Mandy.

Depending on how you have your meeting configured, participants may not be able to screen share. In those cases, you may want to make one of your participants the host. You can do this by clicking on Manage Participants, then hover over the participant who you want to make host and hit More >. Then select Make Host from the drop-down menu. When you make someone else host, you stop being host.

After I made Mandy the host, she was able to share a photo of a partially printed legal form filled in by John Adams.

I hope that this blog post will be helpful to many of you who are just getting started using Zoom while answering the call to be socially distant. Thanks to Mandy Lee for her help with putting together this blog post. I realize that Zoom has many more features than I have covered, but I wanted to just cover the basics here.

[1] I am aware that the normal audience for this blog probably doesn’t need this kind of help.

[2] Western New England University School of Law offers a fully online LLM in Elder Law.

[3] This would not have prevented Burnley’s intrusion.

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