By Sonny Tapia
The video conference application Zoom, is a critical infrastructure to society because it creates a more personal approach to the outside world.
Zoom has been a crucial part to schools across the nation and other parts of the world since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
The company was founded by Eric Yuan in 2011 and launched in 2013 after Yuan cut his ties with the video conferencing company WebEx.
Yuan helped build WebEx when it was a start-up in 2007. WebEx was acquired by Cisco that year and grew to be a bigger company in the technology world.
The popularity of Zoom grew within two years of production from around one million users in the first year and over 40 million by the end of the second year.
In a blog post made by Yuan in March, he said that there were over 200 million calls being made every day and later 300 million by the end of the following month.
The video conferencing service acts as a medium for teachers and professors, from preschool to graduate school.
It offers a sense of face-to-face contact without actually being in the same room.
Journalism Professor Jean Stapleton talked about her experience in recent semesters using Zoom.
“Zoom is totally critical to class. If there’s no Zoom, then there is no class. I can’t lecture to an empty room because a lot of what I do has to do with engaging with students,” Stapleton said.
Stapleton records her Zoom meetings with the students for their classmates that are not present.
This gives the absent students a way to see what they missed. It also means they did not get time to actually speak with the professor.
Zoom made a contract with Oracle Cloud in April of this year.
Oracle immediately managed thousands of Zoom calls through its servers for Zoom.
This allowed Zoom to fully engage in its encryption process of using Transport Layer Security on all calls made through the application.
Using this encryption process means that the call is blocked from hackers spying on the wifi network the user is on, while allowing Zoom to access the servers to view activity on the calls.
Zoom is looking to have an update to the application that will change its encryption method to end-to-end encryption.
This will make the application will be much safer for the user because Zoom will not be able to see the call for itself.
This will protect professors and teachers from Zoom bombings, which was an issue in the beginning of the pandemic. Zoom bombings dealt with random entrances from unauthorized viewers to meetings and virtual classrooms.
Not every teacher or professor has dealt with this issue due to an update from the company that added passwords to Zoom conferences.
“No, I have not had any issues with that. The students are wonderful and doing their best,” Stapleton said.
Public Relations Professor Angela Burrell said that she has not run into any problems since the pandemic started. She feels that the features of waiting rooms help security on Zoom calls. Although Zoom sent out the update fairly quickly, it is not perfect. Stapleton said that one of the flaws in the system was the ability to unmute everyone at once to answer a question. She related this to the ability of professors to mute everyone at once, but could not unmute them without sending a permission notice to the students to unmute. “There are things that are not perfect, but I figure it out in different ways. Usually, I’m on YouTube looking at videos that will help,” Stapleton said.
Burrell also mentioned how this
can relate to somewhat of face-to-face contact.
“This is the closest thing that we have to continuing with a set time frame with instructors,” Burrell said. Zoom offers a dynamic experience during a time of struggle, when it comes to face-to-face experiences.
Zoom allows students of all ages to see their teachers and professors in a more personal way.
Younger students need to see their teachers in order to be engaged with the curriculum, even though they may struggle at home with privacy. College students experience similar difficulties because of the different learning styles. Some students are visual learners rather than just verbal learners. Zoom allows the visual learners to be more engaged through PowerPoints and visuals like pictures and graphs, rather than just reading and taking quizzes through Canvas. Professors use Zoom for their synchronous courses to reflect an in-classroom setting. This has given students a better opportunity to succeed in this new environment.
Zoom is not just crucial to schools and classrooms, but also to businesses for conference meetings between colleagues.
The application is being used to hold board meetings and client meetings in different types of businesses including public relations.
“Zoom is essential in helping the business world operate during the pandemic,” Burrell said. “Zoom has allowed us to grow as social and emotional beings by adapting to the situation. The company has great customer service, and that’s why they can adapt and send updates as frequently as they do.”
Online conferencing has allowed families and friends to stay in contact during the pandemic. Family reunions are something that happens on a screen during the current times and Zoom has allowed that to happen.
Burrell said that the program has allowed her to change her ways of communicating with friends on the east coast. She has not had a full family reunion yet on the Zoom platform, but has joined with friends and family to catch up on what is happening.
Burrell said that it is different, but good to see friends and family members in a different light given the circumstances.