by Trena Winans, Education & Outreach Director
What times we are living. By now many of you have become much more attached to technology than you dreamed you would ever need or want to be. Some are probably getting very comfortable with video-chat or videoconferencing. For those who are not, I want to offer some basic tips and suggestions to allow you to join the conversation.
Many churches, groups, and our own classes have moved to the Zoom platform, so I’ll focus on that. It may seem overwhelming at first, but I have used Zoom for many years and it really is easy once you get started. You can do it!
To start, you’ll want to download the Zoom Cloud Meetings app if you are using a tablet, smart phone, or Chromebook. You may find multiple apps with Zoom in the name. This one has a white video camera icon on a blue background. On a laptop or PC you’ll go to zoom.us and follow instructions from there. Ideally, download to a device that has a video camera and microphone. Being able to see and hear each other is the whole point!
If you want to see on a bigger screen and your only device is a smart phone, you may be able to mirror the screen to your TV if you have a smart TV, Roku, Apple TV, or connected game box like an XBox. The simplest way on my iPhone is to swipe down from the upper right corner and click ‘screen mirroring.’ It then shows me Apple TV as an option. I tap that, then open the Zoom app. Voila! Now it’s also on the big screen. Every phone is a bit different though. You may have to play with it a bit.
Once you open Zoom, you can sign up for free. If someone else set up the meeting, select ‘Join a Meeting’ and type in the Meeting ID number they provided you. Just below meeting ID, it says ‘Join with personal link name.’ You may want to enter your name there to ensure the host will let you join. Many hosts are being more diligent about security and won’t want to let a random unnamed person join. The next step is a Password that your host should also have provided.
In the meeting, you will need to make sure your video camera and microphone are on in order to see and hear others. You will need to tap on the screen to wake up that menu which will appear at the top or bottom of your screen.
If you only see yourself or one person on your screen, you can easily see more people, but how depends on the device. If a tablet or smart phone, you can either swipe left or right, or you may see an option saying ‘Gallery view’ on your screen. On other devices you have to wake up dots at the bottom of the screen and click over to see others. Some devices will show you everyone, others may be limited to 4-9 at a time. Just swipe or click over to see those you are trying to talk to.
There are numerous other options for video chat out there including Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, GroupMe, Google Hangouts, and more. No matter what you use, these are fantastic tools that can allow you to feel less isolated, connect to others, learn new things, and stay mentally healthy during these challenging times. Until we are back in person, I’ll hope to see you online!