How to use Zoom to stream dance classes online
Updated: Apr 1
Disclaimer: Please note that this information does not replace the advice of your insurance agent, attorney, or accountant. Always comply with your local, state, and federal laws.
These are challenging times we find ourselves in and many people have been asking me for help with setting up Zoom live streams for their studios. I want to help as many people as possible, so I put all of the information here with many of the frequently asked questions.
First things first....
I keep hearing about Zoom - Do I need Zoom? Are there other options?
You keep hearing everyone talk about Zoom but are not really sure what it is. But everyone's you know is talking about it. Is Zoom what I need?
Zoom is a video conferencing system that allows you to hold virtual meetings and webinars. On a normal day, Zoom is used for large companies to hold meetings with overseas offices, 1 to 1 meetings among remote colleagues, universities to teach regularly scheduled online classes, and for teachers and businesses to stream webinars (or web based seminars).
In this new world we find ourselves in, many businesses are using Zoom for remote working, many schools are using Zoom to hold online university classes, and yes, many dance studios are using Zoom for digital dance classes.
Zoom is not the only video conferencing solution out there. There are others...Skype, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams. But Zoom is what I'm using at my studio and have the most familiarity with - so that's what I'll be focusing on here.
Okay - but do I need a video conferencing solution at all?
Not necessarily. First answer some questions for yourself....
Do you need to stream classes synchronously ("live") at the same time as your normal class time or can students tune in whenever is convenient for them?
Do you need one-way communication (where the students can see the teacher, but the teacher can't see the students) or do you need two-way communication (where the teacher and students can all see each other)?
Do you need conferencing tools, such as a whiteboard, sharing your screen, ability for participants to digitally 'raise their hand', a chat window for students to ask questions?
If you don't need the extra bells and whistles, you may not need a video conferencing solution like Zoom. You can video your class or choreography "the old fashioned way" by taking a video on your phone or tablet, saving it, and sending it out.
The "old fashioned way" is simpler, but there are a few technology things to consider. The most important is file sharing. If you're sending videos, they're likely larger than 25MB and too large to send via a regular email.
Send a link to the video file via Dropbox or Google Drive (if you share the file itself they need to have a dropbox or google account to access, but if you share a link and have the file public, they can access and download the video without having an account). For instructions on how to share a link with Dropbox - click here. For instructions on how to share a link with Google Drive - click here.
You can upload the videos to a class app like Band (this is extra great if you already use Band for your studio). But if you're just starting using band, there is some onboarding involved in getting dancers and parents to download the app on their phones and join the Band group.
You can share the video on a video sharing platform like Youtube or Vimeo. However, Youtube or Vimeo may mute the music due to copyright.
You can share the video to a private Facebook group and invite your dancers/parents to this Facebook group. However, Facebook may also mute the music for copyright. You also may have dancers or parents that don't have (or want) Facebook accounts and there's an administrative task of inviting everyone to the proper Facebook groups.
Got it - I want to use Zoom....but do I want Meetings or Webinars?
Slow down there! Okay - you've heard about Meetings and Webinars. Which one you want depends... Here are your options...
Zoom meetings are great for two-way communication. You can see lots of boxes on the screen for each participant on the "call".
Zoom webinars are great for one-way communication. You can live stream the teacher teaching class but they won't be able to see the students and the students can't see each other.
You also have the option to stream a Zoom webinar as a Facebook live video into a Facebook group. (again, parents would have to have Facebook accounts and you'd need to add them to the groups).
If you don't want to stream to Facebook, you can just send them a link to view the Zoom Webinar online.
Where do I start?
First you'll need to signup for a Zoom account. You can signup at https://zoom.us/.
Plans & Pricing:
There is a Free Zoom plan. It is limited to 40 minute long meetings and does not allow webinars.
There are then other Zoom plans which can be found here: https://zoom.us/pricing
The "Pro" plan will likely work for everyone. It includes up to 100 participants in a meeting (we usually don't have more than 100 students in a class) and the meeting duration can be up to 24 hours long (now that would be a long dance class!)
*IMPORTANT NOTE* - each "user" can only be on one meeting at a time. So if you have multiple teachers/classrooms, you'll need more than one account. One option is to give each teacher their own Zoom account. Another (perhaps more affordable option) is to create an account for each classroom. If you have 3 classrooms, you likely wouldn't need more than three meetings to happen at the same time. So you could create a "Studio A" account, a "Studio B" account, and a "Studio C" account.
If you want to host webinars or stream to Facebook live, you'll need the "Webinar" add on. I believe you need one "Webinar" add on for each user to do simultaneous webinars (more than one at the same time). Which would mean for 3 studios, you'd need 3 Pro accounts and 3 Webinar add-ons. But I've also heard some people tell me that you can do 3 Pro accounts and 1 Webinar add on through additional hosts. That's a bit more complicated and I haven't had time to test that out - so at my studio, we've just added a Webinar add-on for each user.
Setting Up Zoom Meetings
Setting Up Zoom Webinars
How to Live Stream Zoom Webinar to Facebook Group
Check out this video that walks you through connecting a Zoom Webinar to live stream to Facebook.
Recording Zoom Meetings
There are two ways you can record Zoom meetings:
1. Record Meeting to the Cloud
You can record Zoom meetings to the cloud and share a link to the meeting. This is the easiest way to share a Zoom recording. It only take a few seconds to copy the Zoom recording link and pop it into an email to your students. However, the drawback to this is that Zoom storage space is fairly limited. If you have a lot of recordings and want them to be available for a period of time, you'll need to pay for additional storage space (starting at $40/month). This extra expense may be worth the easier option. However if it's not, you have another option....
2. Record Meeting to Computer
You can record the Zoom meeting to your computer. If you have this turned on, the video will download to your computer within a few minutes of the meeting ending. You can then share this video with parents. The video is likely too large to share via a standard email, so you'll need to "host" the video somewhere. A couple of options include:
Upload the video file to your Studio Management Software's parent portal, if your software has that feature.
Upload the video file to a video sharing site like Youtube or Vimeo (click the respective links for instructions on how to do so). Keep in mind - Youtube or Vimeo may take down or mute videos containing music.
How do I see more than 25 dancers on screen at the same time? (note: only works on newer computers with powerful processors)
How do I only see some dancers when I want to see smaller groups?
You can have dancers "Stop Video" to turn off their cameras (the equivalent of muting their microphones) and then set your Zoom to Hide Non-Video Participants to see everyone else larger.
For more help, please visit Studio Help Source for additional resources!