Zoom and Flex: What’s What?!?

Zoom – a tool; Flex – a class format

You may have heard the terms “Zoom” and “Flex” bandied about DeSales recently. If you’d like some clarity about what Zoom and Flex are and how they are different, read on!

In brief, Zoom is a web conferencing service (like Blackboard Collaborate) whereas Flex is an innovative, flexible class delivery format that uses Zoom as a tool to support the class.

Zoom

Zoom Video Communications, Inc. markets a web conferencing service called, you guessed it, “Zoom.” Zoom is used to hold live video-based online class sessions and other online meetings. It is an alternative to Blackboard Collaborate, Skype, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, and others.

Due to high customer satisfaction rates, Zoom has gained market share over its competitors, especially in higher education. All of our sister institutions in the LVAIC consortium use Zoom.

Although Blackboard Collaborate is currently DeSales’ primary web conferencing service, DEIT has been using Zoom for selected applications with excellent results. If all continues to go well with Zoom, DEIT plans to entirely replace Blackboard Collaborate with Zoom for the 2019-2020 academic year. If you don’t want to wait, Zoom is available to DeSales instructors now as an alternative to Blackboard Collaborate (contact DEIT to make the switch).

Flex

Whereas Zoom is a specific company’s web conferencing service, Flex is an innovative class format that has a web conferencing component. We are using Zoom as our web conferencing tool to help deliver Flex classes, but any web conferencing service could have been used.

Pioneered by the ACCESS program and being evaluated by our graduate programs, a Flex class has a live component and an asynchronous online component. In the ACCESS case, 24 hours of instruction are delivered live and 21 hours are delivered through asynchronous online coursework. Where the flexibility comes in is that students can choose to experience the live portion of a Flex class either in a traditional classroom or live online via Zoom. The remote live students appear in the classroom via a 2nd large video monitor and are expected to participate in the live class just like the students in the classroom.

Below is a 2-minute video on the Flex class format.

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