This month Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) soft-launched the Zoom video collaboration platform for students, faculty, and staff.

In a press release, Georgia Tech said the soft launch comes after an almost year-long effort to evaluate and introduce a new videoconferencing solution for academic course delivery and collaboration. The school turned to Zoom as its existing video collaboration agreement with BlueJeans is set to expire at the end of the spring semester.

Due to both the expiration of the BlueJeans agreement and the sunset of the WebEx platform in December 2021, the school formed the Video Collaboration Review (VCR) team in early 2021 to explore new video collaboration platforms that meet the academic and operational needs of students, faculty, and staff. The committee, comprised of members from each division and College, along with students and technology representatives, identified requirements and evaluated possible solutions on their ability to:

  • Enable secure, reliable, and flexible course delivery and student learning.
  • Support virtual classrooms and meetings of multiple sizes.
  • Facilitate effective collaboration and communication across the Institute.

“Not only did Zoom, to a large extent, meet our committee’s criteria, but it is also one of the most widely used video collaboration tools,” Yakut Gazi, Ph.D., associate dean for Learning Systems at Georgia Tech Professional Educationm said. “Many of our students, faculty, and staff have participated in Zoom meetings during and even before the pandemic, which we anticipate will facilitate adoption at Georgia Tech.”

Prior to a soft launch, the VCR team had planned a two-month pilot program for October of 2021. However, that wasn’t able to happen.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, we regrettably had to delay, then ultimately cancel our planned October pilot,” Gazi said. “Thanks to collaborative work between the Office of Information Technology (OIT), Procurement and Business Services, and the Office of the General Counsel, we were able to come to an agreement with Zoom in December, setting us up for our soft launch in February with our campus partners.”

The university explained that its Canvas learning management system has already been integrated with Zoom and will allow access for faculty and students in blended and online learning courses. During the first phase of the Zoom soft launch, the platform will only be available to Georgia Tech users who host meetings from inside the United States. Additionally, Zoom recordings will be automatically migrated to the user’s account in Kaltura MediaSpace, which is a cloud-based, YouTube alternative solution to create, store, and share media content.

“Over the course of the next few months, our teams will work to tighten the integration of Zoom with the classroom technology systems, as well as with the Kaltura MediaSpace video storage and delivery system, to further enhance the interoperability of our academic technology ecosystem,” Gazi said. “We will also be working with Tech entities and Zoom to expand the platform’s usage to all Georgia Tech learners, independent of their global location.”

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