News from IT that isn't just for geeks

Zoom Chat for Real-Time Collaboration

Posted on: November 3rd, 2020 by Brian Hopkins

With UM organizations of all kinds working to advance their missions while maintaining all required social distancing protocols, IT has received a number of inquiries about implementing a university-wide instant messaging solution.

Fortunately, such a product is already available to all UM employees and students. The Chat feature built into Zoom has all of the features needed by most UM organizations for their day-to-day operational communications. From the Zoom application on your chosen device, choose the Chat function from the buttons at top (on most computers) or bottom (on most mobile devices) to get started. From here, you can create direct messages to individual users or create multi-user “channels” similar to those used in Slack or other products. Both individual messages and channels can be used to exchange plain text messages, documents, images, audio or video files, and much more.

Because Zoom is a product in rapid development, the links below on how to use it go to Zoom’s own online documentation.

At this time, some UM Zoom users are in sub-accounts associated with their home organizations (the School of Pharmacy, for instance). Channels that need to include users from multiple sub-accounts will need to be enabled for “external users.” Non-UM users can be added to channels the same way, but this should be done judiciously.

Lastly, please note that it’s important to maintain professionalism in whatever instant messaging platform we use to conduct UM business. Chat is a medium that often takes on a conversational tone, and so can help create a feeling of togetherness for a team that can’t be physically together. There is risk, however, that it can get too familiar and cross the bounds of professional decorum. Use of Zoom for chat or any other purpose is subject to the IT Appropriate Use Policy, all applicable policies on employee conduct and interaction, and the Access to Public Records Policy.