Web Conferencing (i.e. Zoom)
What is Web Conferencing?
Web conferencing technology enables real-time communication and collaboration between distributed individuals on web-enabled devices (PCs, laptops, tablets, etc). Web conferencing unites students from different locations and connects them with faculty and their peers. View the list of Web Conferencing enabled classrooms at UMaine. Students are able to remotely work together or meet with faculty during office hours for personalized instruction. Web conferencing platforms provide communication through audio and video, as well as through sharing content. Typical features of web conference platforms include:
- Real-time audio and video communication through the computer via the use of headphones, speakers, and webcams.
- Screen sharing/desktop sharing/application sharing where students can view anything the presenter currently has shown on their screen.
- Virtual whiteboard with annotation (allowing the presenter and/or attendees to highlight or mark items on the slide presentation, or, to simply make notes on a blank whiteboard).
- Text chat allows participants to post comments and questions that are visible to the entire group without interrupting the ongoing conversation. Text chat may be public (visible to all participants) or private (between two participants).
- Session recording allows the entire session to be recorded for future review.
UMaine offers two different web conferencing tools: Google Meet and Zoom. The availability of the technologies and the number of participants they support will largely dictate which tool you choose.
- Supports up to 100 users.
- Google Meet is available to the entire UMS community with no fees or licensing requirements. You only have to install a plugin.
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- Supports large groups of participants per session.
- Zoom is available across UMS (avaliable in August 2018).
- There are no fees associated with use.
- More information on using Zoom is available at the official Zoom’s Help Center.
Benefits of Teaching with Web Conferencing
How Web Conferencing Can Increase Collaboration and Personalize Instruction in Your Class
- Screen share can be used to:
- Create group activities (quizzes, problem sets) to be worked on during class meetings.
- Provide examples and illustrations.
- Offer a forum for students to work collaboratively outside of class on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations for assignments and projects.
- Web conference sessions can be recorded. For example:
- Instructors can review role plays and provide feedback.
- Current sessions can be recorded as examples for future course semesters and students.
- Group text chat can be used to conduct polls and surveys.
- Special guest lecturers, experts, and faculty can be invited to join a class regardless of their location.
Factors to consider when Web Conferencing
- These are the most flexible options.
- For the UMaine community, Google Hangouts are ubiquitous.
- The quality of the audio, video, and screen sharing in the conference will be dependent on all users’ Internet connections. UMaine staff will not be able to do much, if anything, to support or improve quality.
- If used in a classroom setting, remote students will not feel fully integrated with the class.
If you are interested in getting started, here is where you begin:
- Zoom – Visit maine.zoom.us and sign in with your MaineStreet credential. More information on using with Zoom is available at the official Zoom’s Help Center.
- Google Meet – Visit https://meet.google.com. Works on your PC or Mac in Firefox or Chrome. Participants can join on the mobile platform as well. Easy to share screen, record, and file share. Limited to 15 participants through your @maine.edu account. Also requires a solid internet connection.
For support and coaching with teaching and online conferencing, contact us at the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, Fernald Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org or call (207) 581-3333. Additional resources and white papers available on the following websites will open in a new tab/window: