“It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” - Terry Pratchett

Zoom was one of 2020’s biggest winners. There were 300 million daily users in Zoom meetings. We’d almost completely forgotten about Skype.

But don’t you need a subscription to use Zoom?

We’ve got the answers right here!

What is Zoom?

During lockdowns and COVID restrictions, Zoom was hugely popular, but the app isn't new. It was developed in the US in 2011. In 2020, however, the app took off. It’s used all over the world by professionals and individuals to connect to others through video calls and meetings with multiple participants at once.

What is Zoom?
Despite its boom in 2020, Zoom's no baby. (Source: geralt)

Zoom is a lot like Skype in many ways but simpler and quicker. It’s a great way to talk to more people than you could on Skype, even using the free version. It uses the cloud for each virtual exchange, but you can also record your meetings.

As you’ll have gathered, this tool is also really useful for online teaching.

Zoom has the following features and functions:

  • Audio calls through smartphones or computers.
  • Video calls using smartphones or a webcam.
  • File-sharing and text chat.
  • Screen sharing.
  • Multi-user digital whiteboards.
  • Session recording.
  • Up to 100 participants in a meeting.

The app can be used to chat with friends, host work meetings, attend online classes, etc. It can be used on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.

There are plenty of different ways to use Zoom. Users can use a Zoom meeting or subscribe to the Zoom Room service.

While a Zoom meeting can be used to chat with others, Zoom Room is a video conference service for conference rooms. You’ll have to pay for this service and it’s mainly used for large businesses.

How much you can get out of Zoom depends on your subscription and there are several different ways to use Zoom.

Find out more about tutoring with Zoom.

Zoom Free

Like a lot of videoconferencing platforms and software, Zoom offers a free plan. This is the version that most people use.

So what do you get with the free version?

How much does Zoom cost?
Different Zoom plans cost different amounts per month. (Source: QuinceCreative)

This plan offers quite a few functions and is perfectly suited for personal use. You can host an unlimited number of one-on-one meetings. On the other hand, if you want to host a larger meeting, you’ll be limited to 40 minutes. The free option isn’t recommended for those using it professionally.

You won't want the call to end because you’ve reached the time limit and you also don’t get to record the meeting with the free version.

Find out how to use Zoom for online tutorials.

Premium Zoom Plans

Zoom offers quite a few plans and subscriptions for different users. So while you can create a free account, you can also pay a monthly or yearly subscription for access to more features and functions. Most of these plans are geared towards business use.

Zoom Pro

The Zoom Pro plan is available for £12.99 a month.

This allows you to create personal Zoom meeting invites and also record the meetings onto the cloud or your computer. This gives you up to 30 hours of group meetings. That said, very few people will use the full amount.

Zoom Business

You can also choose the Zoom Business plan for £15.99 a month. This plan is useful for small and medium businesses with managed domains and company branding.

However, that’s not all. This plan also offers recording transcripts of the meetings recorded on the cloud. For many, this is worth the extra cost.

Zoom United Business

For the largest companies, Zoom United Business is the best option. For £28 per month, you can enjoy meetings of up to 300 people with unlimited cloud recording. This is for much larger companies.

With this plan, companies can record all of their meetings. They can also enjoy discounts on further Zoom features and services like Zoom Rooms.

So what are Zoom Rooms?

Using Zoom Rooms

Zoom Rooms is a service from Zoom for conference rooms which costs £39/month/room. You can get a 30-day trial for Zoom Rooms.

So what can you use it for?

Zoom Rooms is a service that allows you to more easily integrate Zoom into existing conference rooms. You can access a conference call with one-click. Each user can enter just as if they were there.

The Zoom Rooms service allows you to connect directly to a company’s preexisting conference infrastructure.

They also include an interactive whiteboard for each participant to take notes, which is great for brainstorming and sharing ideas. You can have up to 12 whiteboards active at once.

Check out our tips for using Zoom for tutoring.

What’s the Difference Between the Zoom Plans

Aa you’ll have gathered, there are a few ways to use Zoom.

So which plan should you get and is it worth paying for?

What are the different Zoom plans?
Each Zoom plan is for a particular type of user. (Source: viarami)

Zoom Free

The free version of Zoom is already a powerful tool. You can enjoy hassle-free video calls and meetings without having to pay for them. You can also use Zoom on almost any device with several people at once.

If you want, you can mute the audio or turn off the camera as and when you want and can also easily share your screen.

The biggest difference with the premium plans is that you can use Zoom on multiple devices. You can’t share your account with somebody else, but it’s still free!

Premium Zoom Plans

There are a few advantages to the premium Zoom plans.

  • Sync Zoom with your calendar.
  • Save meetings.
  • Spend longer than 40 minutes on group meetings.
  • Etc.

Let’s be clear, the premium versions offer a lot of advantages for those using Zoom professionally, but not that much for personal use. Some plans allow up to 100 users, which is great for massive companies.

The free Zoom plan will work for personal calls and chatting with friends and family.

Check out the pros and cons of tutoring with Zoom.

Which is the Best Zoom Plan for Online Private Tutors

When it comes to online private tutorials, the free version is probably still the best. After all, one-on-one calls won’t be limited. There’s no real limitation on one-on-one online private tutorials. However, it depends on the tools and features that you’re going to be using. Some tools could greatly increase the quality of your tutorials.

Which is the best Zoom plan for private tutors?
Private tutors will probably want to start using the free version and only pay for a plan when they have to. (Source: jagritparajuli99)

There are also other apps and services to consider like Skype and BigBlueButton, an open-source video conferencing tool that has a lot of useful tools for students and teachers. You can organise lessons with students easily and make use of the interactive whiteboard to work on exercises together.

If you're interested in learning with a private tutor or tutoring, check out Superprof. There are thousands of tutors in the UK and around the world ready to teach you a variety of different skills and subjects.

There are three main ways to get private tutorials: face-to-face, online, or in a group. Each way of learning comes with its pros and cons and it's up to you to choose which type and which tutor works for you.

Face-to-face tutorials are usually the most expensive but that's because you get tailored lessons and a lot of the tutors will travel to you. You'll be the only student in the class and can learn what you want, how you want. Of course, with the pandemic, these types of tutorials have become less feasible and with the ever-changing restrictions, you mightn't want to start face-to-face lessons just to have them cancelled the next week.

As we mentioned, online tutorials have saved the day for many tutors and students and since the tutor isn't there in the room with you and doesn't have to travel to all their other lessons, they're cheaper than face-to-face tutorials and completely COVID-safe. Of course, while these tutorials can be just as effective as face-to-face for academic subjects, they aren't often as effective when it comes to hands-on subjects and skills.

Finally, group tutorials are usually the cheapest option available and are great for those on a budget. However, much like the face-to-face tutorials, group tutorials aren't recommended during the global pandemic and are almost impossible to organise given the various restrictions and lockdowns.

Don't forget that many of the tutors on Superprof offer the first lesson for free. While these won't be a typical lesson, they are an excellent opportunity to chat to the tutor, ask them about how they like to teach and how they can help, and discuss their availability, cost, etc. It's also a great opportunity to see if you get on well with them as it's much easier to learn with a tutor that you like or have a good rapport with.

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.