If you have enlisted in one of our live online courses you will probably be using both ZOOM and MOODLE. The following notes offer an informal introduction to both:
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO ZOOM
What is Zoom?
Zoom is an online utility that permits people to meet with video, sound and presentations.
Will it work on my system?
For video transmission you need reasonable broadband speed. Your system will be downloading a video signal and it will also be uploading a video signal. Your provider has probably assigned a lower upload speed. Here is how to check both speeds.
- Go to www.speedtest.net and click “GO”
- After a little while you will see your upload and download speeds
- Zoom recommends that both of these speeds be 1.5Mbps or greater.
- However, even 0.6Mbps may work but anything less would not be adequate.
If you do have a low speed, check with your internet provider as they may be able to improve your connection.
Is it secure?
Zoom is a very secure platform and we will be using password access to sessions. It is important not to share your links and password with others.
Do I need an account?
No, as you will be using the instructor’s account, you do not need one yourself.
Is there a cost?
Your presence as a participant in a Zoom session does not cost you anything. However, your internet provider may be charging you for internet usage.
Is there a time-limit on Zoom sessions?
On the free version there is a time-limit of 40 minutes but that will not apply to our online courses as we will use a full Zoom subscription.
What else do I need for Zoom?
Your computer must have a camera, microphone and speakers (or headphones). You are advised to participate in a Zoom session in advance of the online course so that you can check that all of these features are working well.
How do I connect to Zoom?
You will be sent the necessary information before each session. In advance, you are recommended to download the Zoom application to your computer. Visit https://zoom.us/download#client_4meeting
Will Zoom work on my phone or tablet?
Yes, if you have the app, but we recommend that you use it on a computer and for several reasons.
- Your screen view will be better.
- The Zoom controls will be standard and easier to use.
What can I do to ensure a good Zoom experience?
- Do not turn your speaker volume up too much or you may get feedback (a loud whistling noise when the speaker sound is fed back into the microphone). Using headphones can avoid feedback.
- Have your computer set up in a noise-free location since background sounds will be heard by all. Pet dogs love to gate-crash online courses!
- Have reasonable lighting so that your face can be seen well.
- Avoid having any bright light or window in the video picture frame.
- Advise other members of your household that you will be on a live video link.
- Ensure that your house broadband is not used for any other video links or large data exchanges during the Zoom session.
- Remember to close Zoom at the end of the session.
What controls can I use in the session?
[The following comments correspond to using Zoom on a computer.]
VIEWS: At the top right there is an icon which allows you to choose “Speaker View” or “Gallery View”. “Speaker View” will show you the video of the person who is speaking whereas “Gallery View” will show you all the participants.
MUTING: You may be able to mute your microphone, useful if you have unexpected background noise.
CHAT: Another useful feature of Zoom is chat, an icon at the bottom of the screen. You can send a text message to everyone or to selected individuals (private chat). This can be useful for seeking help if you have a technical problem. Of course, it is also a good way to ask questions or to make suggestions.
REACTIONS: Another icon at the foot of the screen, one that enables you to express a short range of emotions such as approval.
BREAKOUTS: From time to time, your instructor may assign you to a breakout group. This works automatically but there is usually a delay of a few seconds between leaving the main session and appearing in the breakout group.
SCREEN SHARING: You may be invited to share your screen (or whiteboard) at some point. Note that you can select a specific window, e.g., a photo or presentation, to display without showing the rest of your desktop.
RECORDING: At times the Instructor may wish to record part of the session. Your consent will be sought and the screen will always indicate when recording is taking place. Later, if you wish to withdraw your consent please contact the instructor privately.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO MOODLE
Moodle is an online facilty that we use to provide you with course handouts plus links to videos and other sites. These will normally be grouped according to the sessions or topics offered by your instructor.
Before your online course begins you may be provided with an account on Moodle, one that will hold your full name (e.g., Sean Murphy), your login name (e.g., smurphy), your email address and your password. This account will not be the same as any other account you might have on our website, wgii.ie.
To access your Moodle account:
- Go to the website www.wgii.ie/moodle30
- Click on the name of your course
- Then log on giving your username and password
Note that username and password are case-sensitive. You can change your password at any time by clicking on your name at top right and choosing “profile”.
An important item in Moodle is the panel on the left of your screen. If you cannot see it, click on the triple bar icon at top left as this toggles the sidebar on and off. Clicking on an item in the list on the left is the handiest way to reverse out of any screen or if you get a little lost.
When you are logged on to Moodle you may be able to contact other course participants and interact with them if you wish. Note that your contact email and personal data are stored on our own WGII server and this data is only used for the purpose of this course.
CONNECTING TO BROADBAND
Nowadays, most people at home are connecting to the internet through a home-based wifi system. The broadband line coming in from outside the house is connected to a modem-router-wifi unit inside the house. The speed of your broadband connection coming into your house is one thing; the speed with which that signal is relayed via your wifi is a different thing. In fact, it is unlikely that your wifi speed will cause problems for your online course work.
As mentioned above in the Zoom section, your actual broadband speed is likely to be more critical. Overall performance will suffer if your housemates are using a lot of bandwidth watching videos such as YouTube or Netflix or if they are also using some form of video conferencing at the same time as you.
It is usually also possible to connect a computer directly by cable to the modem-router-wifi. Since the more critical part of your connection is the external broadband link to your modem, you are unlikely to notice much of a performance difference between a wifi link and a cable link.If you have a smart phone that receives internet, that signal is normally coming through your mobile phone network. Many people configure their phones so that they will connect to the internet via their house wifi when home. In some cases the network bandwidth on a person’s phone may be better than their house bandwidth. In such a case it could be useful to use the smartphone as a “hot spot” for your online connection. Advice on this is beyond this article but you may get more information here.
Please do not hesitate to ask your instructor for help with Zoom or Moodle. We are not experts but we may be able to find a solution.
Groups may find it useful to link in other ways such as email or WhatsApp during the course. These extra connections will depend on the group’s preferences.