Parents Voice in Government School Education

Online meetings: tools and rules

All over the world, online communications are replacing face-to-face meetings and events. Whether it’s a multinational corporation or your Parent Club, we’re all adapting to new methods of communication. Some parents who are working from home may be all too familiar with online communication tools such as Zoom. Others will still find them challenging.

  • A range of tools is available – videoconferencing (e.g. Zoom) and social media are popular, but don’t forget good old-fashioned email groups (e.g. Google Group). These are flexible, people can read and reply to emails when it suits them. Not everyone wants to be on social media, but it’s reasonable to expect that all your members will have access to email. And there’s always the phone…
  • Parents who are working from home may feel they’re already spending far too much time at the computer. If you’re organising online events such as meetings via videoconference, keep them as short as possible and make them flexible – schedule the essential items first so that ‘Zoom-weary’ parents can leave early.
  • Don’t be discouraged if attendance is sometimes low – some parents will have already been videoconferencing all day! Allow your members to choose their own level of involvement and respect their decisions.
  • Remember that not all parents will be comfortable or experienced in using such technology – but others will, enlist them as ‘tech support’ to help those who need it.
  • For videoconferencing, you might be using Webex or Microsoft Teams at work, but to stay inclusive you’ll probably want to stick to something free and easy-to-use. A Parents Victoria survey in 2021 suggested that Zoom is the most popular system for videoconferencing.
    For more on Zoom…

Zoom meeting tips

If you are using Zoom to run meetings or social events, here are a few tips:

  • New to Zoom? See this video, specially made to get you started. We suggest you run a test meeting with a few friends to ‘get the feel’ of how it works. Running a Zoom meeting is very different to just joining in.
  • Make sure everyone gets the meeting invitation in advance.
  • Keep interruptions to a minimum, and encourage others to do the same.
  • As the meeting host, you can mute all participants. This is a very useful feature (especially for a guest-speaker event) but explain how and why you’re going to use it first.
  • Don’t make everyone wait while you sort out one person’s technical issues. Try a quick fix and if it doesn’t work, move on if all possible, for the sake of other participants. Encourage all participants to test their system before the meeting.
  • You might find wearing headphones helps you to hear better and blocks out background noise.
  • Speaking of background noise, try to find a quiet room to use Zoom. A blaring TV or loud voices in the background are very distracting for you and others (your microphone will pick them up).
  • You can use Zoom on a tablet or phone, but most users report a better experience on a laptop or desktop computer. It’s easier to find the controls and you can generally see all the other participants, which makes for a more ‘social’ experience.

Further reading

A 2022 Information Sheet from the Education Department has some useful advice about online meetings (See Page 2. This sheet recommends the Department’s preferred video-conferencing platform, Webex – a good alternative to Zoom. We suggest you use the one you’re most familiar with.)