Monday, March 23, 2020
I write today to share some Zoom connectivity tips that I have accumulated since my first post on this topic. I spent class time before (and personal time during) Spring Break, which concluded for us yesterday, testing Zoom connections with students--working with them to overcome barriers to clear Internet communications using Zoom. My collected tips, which I shared with my students yesterday, are pasted in below.
Some items on my tip list may not be applicable to you and your students. Most are mentioned elsewhere; and if you already have been teaching using Zoom for a week or more, you may well have already figured all this out in any case. Nevertheless, I thought it might be useful to share my "top five" here.
1. Close out of open files and applications before you join in on our class meeting. Allow your computer to focus its activity on our class exclusively.1
2. If you are sharing bandwidth in your household, ask your household members if they can schedule their usage around your class meetings. Internet speed issues can have a real effect on the performance of video conferencing software.2
3. Log in through the campus's Zoom page, [the url for that page was included here in the original]. It seems to work better than logging in through the Zoom app directly. But each of us may want to try each way on our own to see if it makes a difference.3
4. Download the Zoom app for your phone. If your Internet connection fails, you may be able to join or re-join class from your phone, assuming your data plan can support that use.4
5. Remember that you can test your audio or video on Zoom by clicking on zoom-us in the tool bar and clicking on Audio or Video. You will see the test options there. Please run those tests before class!5
I also reminded my students to log into class about ten minutes early to best ensure that their links to the class meeting are as strong as possible once class begins.
Nothing in my tip list is Earth-shattering. But if you are troubleshooting Zoom connection issues with a student, perhaps one or more of these tips will help. Regardless, I hope that everyone settles into a productive, happy online teaching experience. If you are like me, you'll figure out a way to ensure that your students are getting what they need, one way or another.
Leave your own tips in the comments. They are appreciated. Footnotes are included below.
1 From the Zoom blog:
During a meeting, other applications have a way of intruding and asking for attention from your CPU or broadband connection. While downloading information through a broadband connection, the application doing the downloading is competing with Zoom. The same occurs when you use CPU-intensive applications: they steal precious ticks from your processor.
When streaming 30 frames per second, your camera is taking 30 pictures of you each and every second, then sending them to the processor with instructions to forward the images through Zoom. Zoom uses your processor to send the images to your network card, which transmits the data to its destination. This process requires the energy of your CPU. To engage in the smoothest possible meetings, close any applications you don’t need to use for the meeting itself. It’s that simple.
2 Zoom's recommended system requirements can be found here.
3 Our campus has a super webpage dedicated to Zoom with a list of linked support documents. Yours probably does, too.
4 Zoom has a webpage dedicated to information for mobile users.
5 Zoom offers a streamlined process for testing audio and video from the view screen at this webpage (which includes, among other things, a brief video).