Companies Aiding Remote Education


Amy Liu, Staff Writer

Schools across the country have closed their doors in the widespread effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and several companies have stepped up to mitigate the effects of the closures. As universities and K-12 schools impacted by the closures begin to turn to online learning, companies including Zoom, Google, and Adobe have started providing expanded services to ease the necessary transition to remote education.

Zoom, a videoconferencing service that has gained popularity in recent weeks as a form of online higher education replacement, has made its services free for all K-12 schools across America in one of the first of several movements by communication companies to do so. The service allows for video and audio group calls, private and group text chat, and various features, including meeting recording, screen-sharing, and special effects. In order to increase its reach, Zoom has partnered with Clever, a widely-used single sign-on education service, to provide fast access for all schools. While Zoom has historically had a forty-minute cap on its “Basic” accounts, the new policies scrap the time limit, allowing students and teachers to hold longer classes on the service while campuses and buildings are closed. The service has also removed time limits for K-12 schools in dozens of other nations affected by the crisis across Asia, Europe, and North America.

The company, which has risen to the forefront of remote learning innovations, is accessible on a wide range of devices, including tablets, smartphones, and laptops, has also joined forces with businesses across the world in providing sustainable alternatives as areas enter lockdowns and non-essential businesses close. In a public statement, CEO Eric Yuan said, “It’s my responsibility as Zoom’s CEO — and Zoom’s unique responsibility as a company — to do everything in our power to support those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak by committing our reliable technology, expanded access, and agile customer service.”

Other companies have followed suit. Google, which provides a variety of educational services through G-Suite for Education including Google Classroom, announced that it was making access to advanced Hangouts Meet capabilities free for all G-Suite and G-Suite for Education customers. The videoconferencing service allows for up to 250 participants in one meeting, and also provides recording options that can be stored on Google Drive. 

While videoconferencing services are one of the largest technological communications sectors to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, other educational services are also expanding their accessibility. Adobe recently began allowing educational customers to request free at-home access to its Creative Cloud suite for students and teachers. The Creative Cloud suite includes various applications across devices for photo editing, digital art, advanced layout and formatting, and other creative tools that are widely used in schools. The company has also made Adobe Connect, its webconferencing service, temporarily free for businesses, government agencies, and schools, joining the many companies that have rolled out options to mitigate the effects of pandemic-based closures.