Zooming Around

Oh dear, it’s been way too long since my last post. The intent of a New Year post is now the end of January?!

Well, our transition to a new video conferencing platform has gone quite well. Last fall I was researching dozens of services, and testing a large handful of cloud-based video conferencing services to find the one that would replace our in-house Scopia video conferencing server. It was quite interesting to be in my office, surrounded by 3 or 4 laptops of various ages & performance capabilities, seeing how each video conferencing service performed and how they implemented various features. The torture test, will it run on a 4 year old netbook? Sometimes, the service’s listed feature and how the feature actually worked was quite surprising. For our needs and desired features, the winner was Zoom!

Just in the past 3 months, we’ve seen the number of members with their own Zoom accounts grow to 135+ people signing in, with a total of over 200 members registered with Zoom (whether free Basic or paid Pro subscriptions). This doesn’t count the much larger number of people participating in Zoom meetings without signing up for their own accounts.

I’ve already written three iterations of a Zoom user tutorial – a quick 3 page document just to get a person started, a more detailed 11 page user tutorial that goes through the major features, and I’m finishing up an expanded document that is closer to a ‘complete’ tutorial that is currently 18 pages long. I didn’t want the screenshots to have my own face (or my cluttered office) in the document, so here’s what I did (the webcams did have some difficulty focusing at such close distances):

Zoom Video Conferencing - gallery view
Zoom Video Conferencing – gallery view

What was also fun was having the opportunity to test a handful of various video conferencing gear – webcams & PTZ cameras, speakerphones, and headphones, so that we would have a ‘short list’ of recommended gear for our members. I’m grateful for the project funding to allow me to research the gear – focusing on items that are receiving great reviews online and have high perceived “bang for the buck” value – acquiring a few of the most promising, and doing our own verification testing for the items to be on the recommended list. (I so love using a wireless headset!)

On the to-do list, what to do with our decommissioned video conferencing hardware. eBay?


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