Ranked No. 1 in the business category and 4.5 out of five stars from over a million ratings in the App Store, Zoom is the newest, tech-savviest educational platform for our stay-at-home, COVID-19 times.
In response to the global pandemic that caused the closure of all Fullerton Joint Union High School District [FJUHSD] schools in March for the 2019-20 school year, FJUHSD opted for distance learning using one of two platforms: Zoom and Google Meet.
However, the district chose Zoom as the official platform for this school year since some of Google’s features for its video calls will no longer be free after September, according to support.google.com.
Consequently, the FJUHSD definitely made the right decision in choosing Zoom because it offers education-oriented features that Google Meet lacks and provides better security measures to make sure teachers can keep their meetings to strictly their own students.
For example, Zoom allows teachers — or whoever creates the meeting — to enable a waiting room where all participants will enter before the host manually accepts each student into the meeting. As a result, this feature prevents the several “Zoom-bombings” that occurred last year where unauthorized students joined meetings and harassed teachers with obscene words.
Although Google Meet includes a similar feature that allows the host to deny entrance to accounts outside of the organization — FJUHSD in this case — Zoom enables hosts to check everyone who requests to join the meeting regardless of whether they are in the organization or not.
Personally, I’d hear of these ‘Zoom-bombings’ last school year from friends, but so far, I have not experienced or heard about any of these incidences because Zoom will block any participants who are not logged in with an fjuhsd.org account and any other participant whose name is not on the class roster.
In addition, Zoom breakout rooms give teachers the ability to separate students into smaller work groups during the meeting, optimal for when assigning group projects or smaller discussions. Hosts can create breakout rooms depending on different topics or categories and individually place students into different groups.
Some students may feel like they cannot connect with the students they are in the breakout room with, but this feature almost exactly replicates the experience of having to work with assigned groups. Group work is a crucial aspect of classroom learning, and the ability to continue with it through distance learning outweighs the “awkwardness” students may feel in a breakout room.
Furthermore, Zoom offers a poll feature that Google Meet does not offer.
For example, my Korean IBHL 2 instructor, Joe Ok, kept me and my peers engaged on the first day of school with a Zoom poll that popped up on our screen asking if we were happy with a yes or no option for us to vote on. After we all submitted our vote, he shared the results with the class and even asked the students who answered “no” to elaborate why and tried to talk it out with them.
Already from the first day of school, I felt that this new semester of Zooming would be different than last semester.
Lastly, Zoom contains a recording feature during its meetings in which the host can choose to record the meeting from a point they choose. As a result, teachers can video record their lectures of instructions and post it onto their Google Classrooms for students who missed the class or just for those who wish to review the lecture for extra help.
Unlike Zoom, Google Meet’s special features such as recording and holding more participants (up to 250) will only be free until Sept. 30, according to support.google.com.
If Zoom is the patriarch of the video-conferencing industry, Google Meet is in comparison merely a child in the development stages — immature and inexperienced.
Therefore, Zoom truly has proven its effectiveness for our school district’s distance learning format. By equipping several optimal features for various aspects of the classroom setting, it provides defense mechanisms against potential disruptions to the class.
According to the official Zoom website, Zoom is ranked No. 1 in customer reviews, and it seems to have proven just that.