THE UNIVERSITY has allowed the use of the popular webconferencing platform Zoom for synchronous classes after students and faculty raised connectivity concerns over the official Blackboard Collaborate Ultra platform.

In a letter dated Sept. 25, the Office of the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs (OVRAA) said the University would include Zoom in the choices of webconferencing platforms starting Oct. 1.

The validity of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, developed by a Washington-based firm, ends on December 15, 2020, it said.

Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Prof. Cheryl Peralta said the University was prompted to include Zoom after getting negative feedback from students and faculty members on Blackboard Collaborate.

“One of the recurring feedbacks that we received was incompatibility issues of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra with weak or intermittent internet connection which is experienced by the majority of faculty members and students […] We also received feedback requesting for Zoom to be included among the options for video conferencing inside UST Cloud Campus,” Peralta told the Varsitarian.

Peralta said Zoom, developed by a Nasdaq-listed tech company based in California, would be an addition to the existing platforms available in the UST Cloud Campus, which still include Google Meet and Microsoft Teams to provide “more options for users depending on the functionalities needed aside from video conferencing.”

She also said the immediate rollout of Zoom was done to give faculty members time to archive lectures done in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra ahead of the expiration of the license.

“By having a time allowance before the expiration of the current tool until December 2020, we are giving teachers time to archive lecture recordings done in BB (Blackboard) Collaborate and allotting time for training them how to integrate Zoom inside their courses,” she said.

The Educational Technology (EdTech) Center announced the process of Zoom account activation via the UST Gsuite email, which will be valid for 30 days after receiving the email.

UST subscribed to two types of licenses for Zoom meetings, the University “Pro” subscription for Faculty Members with teaching load for the current semester, and University basic subscription for on-leave faculty members, guidance Counselors, librarians, non-academic staff and students.

The pro subscription includes unlimited time and a maximum number of 300 participants, while the basic subscription has a 40-minute duration with a maximum of 100 participants.

The OVRAA will issue guidelines to secure synchronous learning sessions conducted through Zoom, in addition to guidelines earlier disseminated for other video conferencing platforms.


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