CIO's Blog

Stephen Frazier, Western Illinois University

WIU Now Using Zoom For Video-Conferencing

ZoomLogoVideo-conferencing just became easier for WIU students, faculty, and staff. Until the summer of 2016, the University’s preferred video conference software was Adobe Connect. However, when Adobe announced that its annual subscription was going to increase more than 300%, University Technology (uTech) began to explore alternatives.  Zoom was identified as a cost effective, scalable, and flexible alternative.  We also think you will find that it is much easier to use than Adobe Connect.

WIU students, faculty, and staff can go to WIU.zoom.us to sign up for a free “Basic” account using their WIU email addresses. These free basic accounts are limited to 40-minute sessions and traditional video conference rooms (such as a Polycom room) cannot be invited to a Zoom meeting.  However, Pro accounts do not have the 40-minute limit and, with an additional license, can connect to Polycoms.  Pro accounts are available for purchase.  To find out more about Zoom, we encourage you to visit http://WIU.zoom.us.  

uTech coordinated a group purchase of Zoom licensing with the College of Education and Human Services, University Libraries, the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research, and the office of the Vice President for Quad Cities and Planning to take advantage of volume pricing options. If you are interested in obtaining a Pro account or a Room Connector license, please contact the uTech Support Center at (309) 298-TECH or support@wiu.edu.

How Zoom Works

Zoom meetings can be created very simply:

  1. One person starts or “hosts” a meeting and may invite up to 50 participants to join. The host is the only party required to have a Zoom account and he or she can choose to host the meeting from a desktop computer (Windows, Mac OS, or Linux) or mobile/tablet device (iOS, Android, or Blackberry) just by installing the free downloadable mobile app or logging into the zoom.us website.
  2. Participants may choose which method they are the most comfortable with when connecting to the meeting. They can also connect with audio-only by calling a phone number included in the meeting invite.

For a typical Zoom meeting, each host and participant needs speakers, a microphone and a webcam. These devices don’t have to be expensive to provide a great experience. Basic speakers and a webcam such as the Logitech HD Pro C920 ($80) wzoom_laptopith its built in microphone will give you a great picture and audio.

Zoom is a cloud-based system so the desktop applications, mobile apps, and all the backend technology to make the system work is provided by the company. Unlike traditional video conference room systems (such as Polycom, Lifesize, or Cisco), neither hosts nor participants are tied to a specific location. Hosting or joining a meeting can happen from anywhere there is a reliable internet connection and little background noise.

With the purchase of a “Room Connector” license, Zoom hosts can invite a traditional video conference room system to a Zoom meeting as well. That capability is useful if several people want to participate in the meeting from the same location.

Zoom also boasts several other advanced features that are flexible and easy to use:

  • Hosts or participants can share whiteboards or other content and allow other attendees to annotate as the originator sees fit.
  • Entire meetings or portions of meetings can be recorded by the host and hosts can individually allow participants to record as well.
  • Public and private meeting chats facilitates communication between those who need to be involved without overwhelming those who do not.

Zoom combines its simple and well-designed interface with the ability to participate from various geographic locations and freedom to allow participants to choose the technology each are comfortable with for a great win. The quality and price of Zoom will be very difficult to match.

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Author: Stephen Frazier, CIO

Stephen Frazier heads up the University Technology department as the CIO at Western Illinois University. He can be reached at sl-frazier@wiu.edu.

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