SfEP Cloud Club
Page owner: Community director
About the local group
SfEP Cloud Club was formerly known as SfEP Skype Club.
SfEP Cloud Club is made up of a number of SfEP members located in countries around the world, together with members who are in far-flung parts of the UK and find it almost impossible to get to local group meetings.
The original SfEP videoconferencing group, Skype Club, was set up in 2014 by Susan Walton, who was at the time a Skype novice. She lived in rural Wales and started Skype Club so that she could meet fellow SfEP members without having to travel long distances.
By May 2015, Skype Club members in no fewer than 16 different time zones around the world had taken part in online meetings. To accommodate members in these different time zones, it was agreed to arrange twinned meetings with similar (or the same) topics for both meetings in the pair, with one morning and one evening meeting, within a few days of each other.
In late 2017, the group decided to switch to the Zoom videoconferencing app, and in June 2018 the group was officially renamed as the SfEP Cloud Club.
What is Zoom?
Zoom is a software application (an ‘app’) that enables video calls and voice calls to take place using computers, tablets and mobile devices, via the internet, and the Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android software platforms are all supported.
The service that Cloud Club uses is the videoconferencing function, and Zoom supports up to 100 participants at a time, although in practice more than eight or nine in one session can be a little unwieldy.
To use the free version of Zoom, you need to sign up and create an account for yourself. To take part in video calls you need to have a microphone and camera linked to your computer or similar device (on modern computers these are often integral). Zoom is free to join, and the video calls are also free.
Taking part in a Cloud Club session
Each meeting will be posted on the Calendar of Events, and those wishing to take part will need to let the coordinator know in advance, preferably on the Cloud Club forum, but alternatively by email (see above).
As Zoom conversations can only last 40 minutes, the coordinator will post two links in the Cloud Club forum a day or so in advance of the meeting and when the 39-minute mark is reached, everyone will need to sign out and simply click on the second link.
During the videoconference, if you don’t wish to be seen, or if your broadband doesn’t have enough capacity to carry the video function successfully, you may turn off the video and just use the audio.
As with any technology, hitches can occur – interference in the video (the image freezes, pixelates, or just disappears), or drop-offs or poor quality in the audio signal. And sometimes they may both go together. Don’t panic! These are annoying events, but par for the course.
If the video and the audio functions do drop off simultaneously, there is a handy instant messaging pane which can be used to send ‘I’m trying to re-dial’ messages, so the other people know you’re still there.
Cloud Club forum
There is also a Cloud Club SfEP forum for members to keep in touch between meetings, and to share resources etc. The forum is also available for anyone else who is located remotely – you might be geographically remote within the UK, feel yourself to be remote from the UK, or may be remote because your personal circumstances keep you close to home. To join the Cloud Club forum, please see the box in the next column. (Cloud Club is at the very top of the dropdown list of groups on the ‘Join a group’ page.)
Details of upcoming meetings can be found in the Calendar of events.