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Class for Zoom Adds Classroom Experience to Popular Meeting Platform

Class for Zoom

A startup founded by ed tech veterans has announced a program intended to make Zoom more effective in replicating the classroom experience for instructors and students. Class for Zoom is currently seeking people to beta test the software. It's expected to launch later this fall.

Class for Zoom is being developed by ClassEDU, a new company founded and led by Blackboard co-founder and former CEO Michael Chasen. According to Chasen, Class for Zoom is designed as an education interface for Zoom that adds teaching tools, and additional capabilities for classroom administration.

For example, while Zoom allows instructors to deliver lectures in real time, use a whiteboard and set up breakout groups, the addition of Class for Zoom adds functionality for:

  • Managing attendance with ID authentication;
  • Handing out assignments;
  • Performing assessments, quizzes and proctored tests live during class;
  • Linking to asynchronous course materials;
  • Setting up screenshare so instructors can place items behind them and allow them to point to the items on the screen as they would in class; and
  • Simplifying use of the Zoom whiteboard, pushing websites to students and controlling video playback.

The instructor is placed in the corner of the screen to be more findable. Faculty can also place certain individuals at the "front" of the class as presenters or teaching assistants.

The new software improves how students raise their hands in class and instructors provide feedback. An improved chat allows for enhanced interaction during class, and faculty members can hold one-on-one discussions with individual students.

Participation tracking uses color-coding to show the instructor how much a student has actively participated in class activities and who needs to be called on next. Another feature shows the educator which students don't have Zoom up as the primary app on their computers.

The view of students can be organized alphabetically, and a hand-raise view orders students based on when their virtual hands went up. And a feedback mechanism allows students to notify the instructor when the information may be moving too fast.

A real-time dashboard shares data by student, class and broader groupings.

"Due to COVID, millions of students are learning online, and education is changed forever," said Chasen, in a press release. "As the father of three school-age kids, I have a front-row seat to how challenging remote learning is. That's why we designed Class for Zoom to feel and work like an in-person classroom, and to bring back the happiness of school to teachers and students."

The new company has attracted $16 million in seed financing from executive with ties to Zoom and the ed tech segment, including: Jim Scheinman of Maven Ventures, an early investor in Zoom and the person who is credited with naming the company; Jessie Woolley-Wilson, CEO of DreamBox Learning and past president of Blackboard's K-12 division; and Deborah Quazzo, partner at GSV Ventures, a leading education investment fund.

"The disruption to education due to COVID is leaving an entire generation of students behind," said Quazzo. "Class for Zoom will help Zoom work for teachers and learners alike during COVID and far into the future as home-based learning is core to student success."

"Existing technologies weren't built to fill every use case and need in remote teaching and learning," noted Lev Gonick, chief information officer at Arizona State University and a board member of the new company. "Class for Zoom fills a major pedagogical gap at a critical time, by making the virtual classroom feel and operate more like the traditional classroom."

Pricing hasn't been announced.

A video showing the program is available on YouTube. Interested districts, institutions and educators can schedule a demo and join the beta waitlist at classforzoom.com.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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