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Otago wins at Zoomtopia Innovation Awards

Thursday, 17 October 2019

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Otago Geology students in class with their lecturers Dr Christina Riesselman and Dr Chris Moy using Zoom to teach their class.

Otago has won a competition with its videoconference provider, Zoom, for its innovative use of videoconferencing.

The University eConferencing team entered the 2019 Zoomtopia Innovation Awards, which were created as a way Zoom could learn about and showcase the creative applications of its products worldwide.

The team entered a video submission showcasing the use of Zoom classes with the JOIDES Resolution, a scientific research vessel which had two Otago lecturers (Dr Christina Riesselman and Dr Chris Moy from the Geology Department), working on board for two months off the southern coast of Chile.

They took students on video tours of the ship, showing them the drilling equipment outside and the laboratories and gear they used on board.

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Students captivated during a Zoom lecture from Dr Christina Riesselman and Dr Chris Moy.

Senior eConferencing Technician Gemma Geddes says she entered the competition when the call came out for submissions, but did not think it would go far.

So when the email came through announcing the Otago team had won she was surprised and elated.

A panel of Zoom judges reviewed all the video submissions and selected the winners of most creative, greatest environmental impact, greatest social impact and best use of Zoom Room. The winners were those who most embodied innovation, inspiration and creativity.

As a part of the prize the Otago submission will be posted on Zoom’s blog, which goes out to its millions of users worldwide.

The prize also includes two tickets to Zoomtopia, the company’s annual conference, in San Jose on 15-16 October. Miss Geddes, along with eConferencing Team Leader Jeff Ormandy will be heading to San Jose to receive the award in person.

Mr Ormandy says the submission shows the ways in which Otago is expanding its use of eConferencing.

While Zoom has been hugely beneficial in improving the connectivity between the different campuses, it has the potential to be utilised even more, he says.

“It’s the direction we want to go in. It’s the type of work the University would like us to do more of.”

The classes taught and showcased in the video were hugely beneficial to the students because it gave them a glimpse into the real life applications their studies would lead them to, he says.

Mr Ormandy also encourages other departments to get in contact with his team if they have any projects they believe could work with them on.