Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZM) announced, at the CoSN2022 national conference, new features for education in response to requests from teachers and administrators. These features span Zoom’s Chat and Meeting offerings and are designed to support teachers who need to engage and manage students joining class remotely or submitting homework assignments.
Virtual Background & Blur for Chromebooks
Chromebooks are a popular choice for students and teachers. Virtual background and blur are now available for Zoom for Chrome Progressive Web Application (PWA) users. Zoom developed this capability after requests from various education customers including Clayton County Public Schools, one of the 100 largest school districts in the United States, serving more than 52,000 students in Georgia.
“Virtual background and blur for Chromebooks is extremely beneficial to our students and teachers. Many students were reluctant to turn their cameras on before this feature enhancement,” said Rod Smith, Chief Technology Officer, Clayton County Public Schools.
Breakout Rooms Enhancements
Breakout rooms, a popular education feature, also received enhancements in this latest release. Program Audio allows meeting hosts to share content with audio to breakout rooms, adding the ability to share videos with audio. With the LTI Pro integration enhancement, educators can populate breakout rooms from the course roster. This can be used to assign breakout rooms in advance, then automatically sort students into breakout rooms.
Anywhere Polls will allow polling content to live in a central repository that can be accessed from any meeting on an account, instead of being associated with a particular meeting. This will make it easier for instructors to reuse polls and will also be beneficial for grading. This feature will be available this year.
“We’re looking forward to the Anywhere Polls feature,” said John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D., President and CEO of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College. “The polling enhancements will make it simpler for large groups of students to provide feedback across the College. It will be easier than ever for instructors to replicate content for each course.”
Additional Features for Chat and Waiting Room
Other new features include sending audio and video messages into Zoom Chat, and the ability to rename participants in the Waiting Room. Asynchronous video allows users the time to consider their responses and then record as needed to provide thoughtfully crafted responses. Users can click “video” at the bottom of the chat client and record up to a 3-minute video message that goes directly into the out-of-meeting chat channel. This is useful for situations such as students submitting brief video assignments. Renaming participants before they join the meeting can be useful for attendance taking where students may be using shared devices, for creating an anonymous student group, or for affirming gender identity.
“Delivering happiness to our customers is the core of what we do at Zoom,” said Johann Zimmern, Global Education Strategy Lead, Zoom. “We work closely with our global K-12 and higher education customers, taking their requests into account and involving them in feature development. As a direct result of this, Zoom developed these exciting new features for education.”