Readers’ pick: Zoom
What does going to class, attending a GW speaker series and spending time with your friends all have in common? Probably not much before 2020, but ask anyone after the past year and without hesitation they’ll answer you with this: a Zoom link.
Online video conferencing platforms have carried us through the virtual instruction period in our time of transition. Up against similar platforms like Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Microsoft Teams, Zoom takes the cake for its user ease, video display options and universal popularity.
The online video conferencing platform has become such an integral part of academic life that students worldwide quickly started referring to school as “Zoom University.”
Unlike Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Zoom’s user-friendly platform allows people to view all participants at once in gallery view or pin specific people. While WebEx accomplishes this too, the video quality is consistently lower because of the platform’s bandwidth security limitations. In one of my classes, students asked the professor to move sessions from Blackboard Collaborate to Zoom for its easy viewing and usability. Many student organizations also use the platform to host events and interact with members.
Blackboard Collaborate, WebEx and Microsoft Teams mainly fall short in their mainstream applicability. Outside of academics, they don’t have appeal. Students like Zoom because they use it not only for classes but for virtual parties and extracurriculars.
Aside from academics, friends have used Zoom to host what they called “Zoom parties,” where participants took advantage of greenscreen backgrounds and screen-share games, like Kahoot.
The online platform has also undergone updates to make user experience more seamless. Waiting rooms were created to prevent Zoom bombers, or uninvited guests that raid zoom meetings.
Users can now pin emojis to their screens and hosts can issue polls for participants to interact with. One of Zoom’s main features is its breakout booms, which allow meeting participants to join separate groups, which is useful for study groups, socializing and dishing about something you don’t want the whole group to hear.
For academic or everyday use, Zoom is the best platform for virtual meetups.