Zoom provides free teleconferencing for K-12 schools

Zoom is aiding K-12 schools  

Eric Yuan created Zoom to make people’s lives easier. That’s why the San Jose-based video communications company lists “delivering happiness” as a core goal.

Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic causes anxiety and tension across the globe, Yuan is offering a free service to make people a little happier.

The company is providing free video conferencing to K-12 schools across the United States. All teachers or students need to do is fill out an online form; once Zoom verifies and approves their request, all school district accounts have free — and unlimited — meeting minutes. It is provided until July 1.

The service also is being offered to schools in Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Poland, Romania and South Korea.

Zoom spokesman Farshad Hashmatulia said the company felt compelled to assist others.

“We believe every business has the social responsibility to contribute back to the community and to society, and it’s critically important during times of crisis,” Hashmatulia told Washington D.C. Business Daily. “With this tenet in mind, Zoom is doing everything we can to provide resources and support to those navigating the coronavirus outbreak.”

Dr. Laurie Fiorenza, director of student learning for Oak Park and River Forest High School in Illinois, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the district has used online teaching platforms such as Zoom, Desire2Learn, Canvas, Google Classroom and Panoptomto provide virtual classroom settings.

”At this time Oak Park and River Forest High School is only using Zoom for our educator meetings,” Fiorenza told Washington D.C. Business News. “Zoom has been a very effective tool to support our leadership teams as they plan and prepare for our student’s eLearning experience. At this time we are not prepared to use Zoom to provide a virtual learning experience to our students during the pandemic.”

Nick Hoover, an instructional coach at Anne Frank Elementary School in the Dallas Independent School District, said many districts and teachers are using Zoom. Hoover started a Facebook page and website, Amazing Educational Resources, where online tools are share and discussed. Zoom has been a frequent topic.

“A lot of people are using it,” Hoover told Washington D.C. Business Daily.

Zoom, founded by Yuan in 2011, provides access to video conferencing, online chats and meetings as well as mobile collaboration. The offer to school districts has allowed the company to, well, zoom ahead in visibility.

According to a report in Forbes, 343,000 people — 60,000 in the United States — downloaded the Zoom app on March 11.

It’s not as if the company was struggling. Yuan took Zoom public in April 2019 and shares have increased 77%, making Yuan a billionaire. That’s not bad for a man who came to America from his native China in 1997 barely able to speak any English.

He wrote code and worked long hours, eventually becoming Cisco’s vice president of engineering. He was a founding engineer and VO of engineering at Webex before launching Zoom. Yuan started Zoom at a time when the video conferencing world seemed full. Turns out, there was room for one more.

On the company website, the word “happiness” once again appears.

“Eric Yuan founded Zoom in 2011 to deliver happiness and bring teams together to get more done in a friction-less video environment,” it states. “Zoom’s video-first unified communications platform continues to dramatically transform the way leading global enterprise companies communicate. Under Eric’s leadership, Zoom was one of the highest-performing tech IPOs of 2019.”

Yuan told Forbes he had no intentions on using this to promote his firm.

“I told the team that with any crisis like this, let’s not leverage the opportunity for marketing or sales. Let’s focus on our customers,” he said. “If you leverage this opportunity for money, I think that’s a horrible culture.”

To learn more or to sign up for the free online services, go to  https://zoom.us/docs/en-us/covid19.html

For further information, go to https://blog.zoom.us/wordpress/2020/03/13/how-to-use-zoom-for-online-learning/

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