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Coronavirus Response Information

Zoom 101 — Facts and Resources for the HGSE Community

Zoom is rapidly becoming a critical technology for the HGSE community. It’s a great solution for web conferencing and virtual meetings with rich feature sets and advanced capabilities. As our comfort levels increase and Zoom becomes more integrated with our virtual learning activities and remote work, it’s important to consider security and confidentiality of our Zoom meetings and webinars. We’ve compiled a list of essential Zoom facts you may find valuable, as well as an overview of simple features to ensure your audience and content is protected.

  • Where’s My Account? Zoom accounts are automatically provisioned/created the first time you use your Harvard Key to sign into Harvard Zoom video conferencing site. The only requirement is for you to have an active affiliation as a faculty, staff or student. Its magic – the auto-provisioning of accounts is essentially instantaneous, i.e., no wait time. Create your account.
  • Test, Test, Test! Testing your Zoom “readiness” is super easy. Zoom provides a test site to ensure your speakers and microphone are working correctly.
  • Take Ownership! Users will have the best experience if you create your own Zoom meetings. If you ask someone to create a meeting for you, please ensure they have not created a meeting for the same date and time. A Zoom account may only have one active Zoom meeting at a time, e.g., you cannot create a Zoom meeting for April 1, 2020 at 2 p.m. and another Zoom meeting for a different group on April 1, 2020 at 2 p.m. The meeting that starts first will prevent the other meeting from starting.
  • Meeting Sizes. All users have the ability to create a meeting with up to 300 participants. If you have a need for more attendees, please contact GSE-IT One Stop in order to have this larger meeting created on your behalf on a case-by-case basis.
  • Recordings. Recordings should be stored “in the cloud” and not your local computer. This is a recommendation to prevent recordings from being lost. You can certainly keep a recording local to your computer, if you prefer. If you are recording a meeting, the activity in breakout rooms will not be recorded under one common recording. Please ask a member of the breakout room to create a local recording to be shared after the meeting, as necessary.
  • Get Help. Zoom has excellent support. Their customer support center is available 24x7 and they maintain a wealth of excellent resources to guide you through almost any scenario. We have dozens of staff (IT, PPE, TLL, library, and others) who are willing to assist, but please note that many of us may not have used every available feature set. Zoom Customer Support.
  • Computer Audio. As a general rule, encourage participants to use internet audio, i.e., discourage participants from calling in using their phone. You can force this option when you set up the meeting. Even in situations where someone may need to connect to meeting using their mobile phone, the Zoom app for iOS and Android is excellent. In most cases, the cellular data network will deliver better audio quality than a cellular voice connection.
  • Peripherals. A dedicated microphone and headset may provide a better experience for participants rather than using the integrated/built-in microphones and speakers in your laptop. Generally, the video quality using the built-in webcam is more than acceptable.
  • Be Seen! Generally, its considered best practice to turn on your video, if available.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice! Practice with Zoom and have a little fun. With the exception of some international call-in numbers, Zoom is free for you to use. HGSE has a site license for all faculty, staff, and students. Try out Zoom in low pressure/casual situations to increase your comfort level and try out new features.
  • Desktop Client. The Zoom desktop client is automatically installed on your laptop. The desktop version is a bit more robust, i.e., extended feature sets, and is generally preferred over the web client, i.e., running Zoom through your web browser.
  • Manage Your Profile. Your account has additional options to “enrich” your profile. Adding a picture (which is presented when your video is turned off), changing your name from 3+3 to Mickey Mouse (or other more appropriate name), and other options are available. Just click on your picture, go to settings and “edit my profile”. You can also add one of these HGSE virtual backgrounds by first downloading the image(s) you want. Then, while you are in a meeting, click the up arrow (^) next to the camera in the bottom left. Select "Choose a virtual background” and upload a photo of your choice.
  • Go Mobile! As noted above, there’s a mobile Zoom app for your smart phone. Its full featured and a great tool when you need it.

Ready for More?

Harvard University IT has compiled additional resources to assist:

More information on Harvard facing Zoom resources.