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School of Biological Sciences - Zoom video conferencing software


Obtaining an SBS Zoom license

The School Office recently asked for expressions of interest in SBS Zoom licenses, and has purchased a sufficient quantity to satisfy all those who responded. These licenses will be funded by the School until 19th March 2022, when internal charging will commence at an education-discounted rate of £60/yr. Additional licenses may be purchased at any time, chargeable at £60/yr from the purchase date.


Switching to an SBS Zoom license from another paid license

If you currently pay for an independent Zoom license and would like to switch to an SBS license, you can do so - your meetings history and schedule will be retained, and you may receive a refund of cost of the unused part of your current subscription (depending on how much of your subscription period remains). To arrange this, when requesting your Zoom license, please specify the email address that you use to operate your existing, independent license. When you click on the link in the invitation that will be sent, Zoom will recognise your existing account and you'll be guided through a license transition, rather than setting up a new license.


SBS Zoom license specifications and limitations

  • SBS Zoom meetings can accommodate up to 300 users.
  • A single license cannot run two simultaneous or overlapping meetings. If you require to run concurrent meetings, you'll need multiple licenses.
  • Each Zoom license requires to be operated by a unique email address, but you can use readily-available aliases to operate multiple licenses, e.g.: xxx123@cam,,, all of which will direct email to your default mailbox. Your IT staff will be able to create aliases for you.
  • SBS licenses are for Zoom meetings only - they do not provide webinar functionality. There are 2x Zoom webinar licenses (each with 1,000 seat capacity) in the SBS pool - please contact the if you'd like more information.


Zoom meetings vs Zoom webinars

  • Zoom meetings typically enable all users to be visible and to engage and interact, with full control of their microphones and cameras, and the ability to share screens. Perfect for smaller, democratic, round-table type meetings, but also used for lectures where a high level of engagement is desired. Features are available for the host to manage interactivity options.
  • Zoom webinars are generally used for larger meetings where a small number of panellists will make presentations to an invisible/silent audience, and Q&A will be managed by the host. Perfect for open/public meetings where joining details are distributed widely, the audience is unknown, and engagement should be controlled.
  • When using the Zoom meeting format for larger meetings, given the increased potential for mischievous use by anonymous attendees, you should take care to restrict visibility of the joining details - discourage sharing on social media, for example.


Zoom security and 'Zoombombing'

You may have read reports about Zoom talks that have been interrupted maliciously by anonymous attendees ('Zoombombers'). This typically happens when an open/public event is organised as a normal Zoom meeting, rather than a webinar. In Zoom meetings, by default many interactivity features are enabled (microphone, screen sharing, annotation tools etc) - all essential for lab meetings, committee meetings, tutorials etc, but they also provide opportunities for mischief. The following tips should help you to run safe meetings:

  • Restrict visibility of your invitation;
  • Use the waiting room to identify unauthorised attendees;
  • Once everyone is present and the meeting has started, use the Security tab to Lock the meeting (prevents anyone else from joining)
  • Use Share Screen > Advanced Sharing Options to control screen sharing;
  • Consider muting everyone in the Participants tab, until it's appropriate for them to engage;
  • Ask all attendees to rename themselves and use their 'real' names 


Meeting IDs, Passwords, Waiting Rooms, Registration, Authentication

  • All meetings will have Meeting IDs and passwords. The password will be built-into the invitation email for attendees, but also printed separately in the email for manual use if required.
  • The Waiting Room feature is enabled by default, but can be switched off by the meeting organiser if required. The Waiting Room enables the host to check the names of those who are queued to enter the meeting, and to choose who can enter, and when. For small meetings, or meetings where it's desirable for the meeting to start without the host being present, the Waiting Room is not required; for larger or recurrent meetings where the joining details may have been shared inappropriately, it provides an opportunity to identify individuals who are not authorised to attend.
  • Registration is not enabled by default. This enables the host to customise a form that gathers details about all users in advance of the meeting.
  • Authentication is not enabled by default. This feature requires all users to be signed-in to a Zoom account (free or paid) in order to join the meeting.


Transferring Host status to others

You don't have to be present at the start of any meeting that you organise - there are a couple of options for enabling someone else to host the meeting:

  • If the person you'd like to host the meeting has an SBS Zoom license, you can specify them run the 'Alternative Host' field when organising the meeting - you must enter the email address they use to operate their SBS Zoom license.
  • You can use the 'Claim Host' method, as follows:
    • Log into and copy your Host Key from your Profile page
    • When you schedule your meeting, make sure that 'Start meeting before host' is enabled, and the waiting room is disabled
    • Send the Host Key to the individual you'd like to become host, in advance of the meeting
    • When that individual joins the meeting, they can 'Claim Host' in the Participants tab, using your Host Key.


'Always Available' meetings, and Personal Meeting Rooms

You can create a meeting room that can be used at any time by participants, via a single invitation sent once-only. To achieve this, select 'Recurring meeting' and set Recurrence to 'No Fixed Time. Be aware that the permanent invitation is likely to be shared eventually. Also note that this may create a conflict with any other meetings that you wish to schedule using the same license.

Personal Meeting IDs and customised Personal Meeting Links are enabled for SBS license users, and will allow you to start instant meetings, and schedule regular meetings that students/colleagues can drop into at any time. Log into and click on your Profile page, and edit your ID and/or your personal meeting URL if required. Share these details only with individuals with whom you will meet frequently.