Get More Out of Videoconferencing with Zoom

Author: Lenette Votava

Zoom is Notre Dame’s preferred audio and video conferencing solution. It is available for faculty, staff and students to use at no cost. This convenient conferencing tool can be used in the classroom tool just as easily as it can in the conference room.


Zoom offers many enhancements over WebEx. Skype or other web conferencing services, including:


  • Unlimited use at no cost
  • Integration with Google Calendar invitations
  • Ability to store class or conference recordings in the cloud
  • Ability to create breakout rooms for side conversations
  • Only web conference host needs Zoom account

“After one brief demonstration, I found Zoom incredibly easy to use. Point your laptop at your class, make sure the laptop volume is up high, plug a conference microphone (borrowed from OIT), into the USB port on your laptop, place the microphone in the middle of the table, and click the red button. Importantly, there is unlimited recording time. Unlike with cameras, you can be genuinely certain that it is recording, as the time counter is visible, and you don't have to worry about changing the battery. (Some cameras are unreliable on how much time you have left on the battery or even on whether they are charged up at all). Also, you don't have to get the file from another piece of equipment--it's saved as a file on your computer within a few minutes.

The laptop can be supplemented with a plug-in camera if you want a better quality camera than your integrated laptop camera. Even an old laptop can be used with Zoom. As soon as the video is saved, you can put it on Sakai. Zoom solved the problem I had when booking a videographer. I had to wait for the videographer to download the high-definition video from the camera and upload the video to Box. Then, I had to download it from Box and upload it to Sakai. The turnaround time for videographers is now being quoted as 2-3 days because of the high demand for services and the lengthy download times. Zoom is a great solution.”

Essaka Joshua Ph.D., Teaching Professor and Joseph Morahan Director of the College Seminar in the Department of English

On campus, Zoom conferencing offers instructors the opportunity to easily bring guest lecturers to their class, or even provide virtual office hours. Many instructors are using this technology to connect to students and colleagues, and it’s as easy to use as Skype.For the new Silicon Valley immersion program, Computer Science & Engineering needed an easy way to connect students in California synchronously with classes in South Bend. Zoom conferencing uses WiFI to allow students to participate in classes from three time zones away.

Videoconference 1cr

“At the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, we continue to be delighted by the acquisition of Zoom. It has been transformative, and we use it regularly. Hosting up to 50 people without deeply frustrating time limits, signal drops, or per-minute billing all are simply wonderful. Many NDSF staff are scattered across the country, traveling to Notre Dame only in the summer to work. Designers, directors, artists, stage managers, production managers, vendors, and staff need to confer en masse as part of our preparation. Previous video conferencing has been technically frustrating, prohibitively expensive, and often dismissed in favor of teleconferencing. Now we are easily able to connect, share screens (immensely important for scenic and costume designs), and to record a video of the call---which was easily skimmed for later reference, another pleasant surprise.”

Grant Mudge, Ryan Producing Artistic Director, Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival

You can find additional information about how this valuable tool can enhance your classroom teaching experience. A step-by-step guide is also available that walks you through how to set up your video conference. Plus, there are informative tutorials that discuss how to use Zoom's features. Find the links to this information and more on the big green banner at:

“I teach God and the Good Life, a ~150 person introductory philosophy course. My students have been working on projects all semester to put an Aristotelian idea into action, and on November 30, they presented their ‘campaigns’ to the entire course. I was slated to give a lecture in Sweden the day before, and feared I'd have to miss the presentations since I would be flying home during class. We arranged for the TAs to videotape them so I could watch them later. I remembered that Delta has pretty good GoGo wireless services on transatlantic flights now. I wondered if I could Zoom in for the presentations on my long flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.  It worked wonderfully. I have a pair of good Bose noise-cancelling headphones. We set up a Zoom meeting for three hours into my flight, to coincide with the class meeting. The TAs set me up on an iPad right near the front of our auditorium. I was able to see and hear all of the live presentations, and to communicate with students.

While the presentations were occurring, some TAs emailed me the handouts and presentation slide decks. Sound wasn't great on my end due to a limit of using the headphone mic at 40,000 feet. But it was great on their end. It felt just like being there in person--even though I was in an airplane over Iceland at the time! I would definitely use it again if I have an unavoidable research/flight conflict. I hate missing class. I learned about Zoom last summer, when I used it to teach a live online philosophy course. I love how stable it is, and how the login is straightforward through the ND system. Students over the summer were able to use it to attend class from Korea. From beach towns in Mexico. One student was on a phone during a thunderstorm and power outage in southern Indiana.  I use it for pretty much any teleconferencing I do now.”

Meghan Sullivan Ph.D., Rev. John A. O'Brien Collegiate Associate Professor of Philosophy