✨Tutorial: Integrating Zoom AI Companion and Google Docs

By fusing AI with automations, you can significantly enhance your one-on-one meetings.

[image created with Dall-E 3 via ChatGPT Plus]

Welcome to AutomatED: the newsletter on how to teach better with tech.

Each week, I share what I have learned — and am learning — about AI and tech in the university classroom. What works, what doesn't, and why.

In this Premium edition, I present our first Tutorial on Zoom AI Companion. I explain how it works, as well as how you can integrate it with Google Workspace to significantly improve its functionality for one-on-one meetings, like those between professors and students.

🖼️ The Big Picture

Zoom AI Companion is a generative AI digital assistant that enhances the real-time functionality of Zoom meetings and also increases their long-term utility by making it easier to record, review, and analyze what happened in them.

After doing a deep dive, I am confident that people who host meetings, whether with individuals or groups, can benefit a lot from Zoom AI Companion, especially if it is integrated in the way I explain.

I will focus on the case of professors’ one-on-one student meetings, but most of what I say is generally applicable.

Access Interjection

If you are a professor wanting to use Zoom AI Companion and your institution uses Zoom, your institution needs to enable Zoom AI Companion as a feature, if you are to leverage it. Even though Zoom AI Companion is an option, at no additional cost, for customers with paid services assigned to their Zoom accounts, account administrators must make it available to you as a user.

At present, Zoom’s policy is that Education customers with BAAs in place (i.e., “business associate agreements” that protect sensitive data) can take advantage of two Zoom AI Companion features that are useful for professors conducting one-on-one meetings with their students: “Meeting Summary” and “Smart Recording for Meetings.”

What do these useful Zoom AI Companion features do?

  • Meeting Summary automates the meeting documentation process, generating concise summaries and clear next steps post-meeting.

  • Smart Recording for Meetings enhances meeting reviews with analytical tools like highlights and smart chapters.

How can these features be used by professors to enhance their one-on-one student meetings?

  • Meeting Summary enables both professors and students to have a structured record of their meeting and a follow-up plan based on it, ensuring continuous progress and accountability.

  • Smart Recording for Meetings enables professors to pinpoint key insights from their meetings efficiently, tailoring their instructional strategies to meet individual student needs.

However, there are two obstacles to professors effectively leveraging these features:

  1. Suite Integration is Not Straightforward: These features are not automatically integrated into Google Workspace or Microsoft 365, which hinders their utility. By default, it is not easy to bring one’s Meeting Summaries into contact with one’s documents and other files, as well as the AI systems that natively work with them (e.g. Gemini or Copilot).

  2. Student Consent may be Required: In some cases, recording one-on-one professor-student meetings and leveraging Zoom AI Companion requires acquiring consent from each student to do so, and acquiring consent is time-intensive if it isn’t streamlined properly.

In this Tutorial, I will explain how Zoom AI Companion can be used to enhance student-professor one-on-ones while efficiently overcoming the first of these two obstacles with Google Workspace. And since my solution keeps all recorded data within the Zoom-Google ecosystem — it relies on no external tools — it protects student data insofar as this ecosystem is secure.

Our next Tutorial will cover integrating Zoom AI Companion with Microsoft 365, while another Tutorial next month will cover transparent and efficient ways to request, receive, and track student consent, expanding on my newsletter from last October on using AI while protecting student data.

With this Tutorial, you will be able to automate this entire process:

Step 0:  You get consent from student to do the following
Step 1: 🗣️ You meet with student on Zoom
Step 2: ✉️ Zoom automatically emails AI-generated Meeting Summary to you
Step 3: 🗄️ Your Gmail automatically sorts the Meeting Summary by student name
Step 4: 🔀 The Meeting Summary is automatically placed in a Google Doc specific to that student, along with any other summaries from the past, with each labeled by date
Step 5: 📝 If you want, you can edit or modify the summary in the Google Doc, including the next steps (actionables for the student, say)
Step 6: 🔊 You can share the Google Doc with the student, enabling further collaboration

I also include a section at the end explaining in detail how to access and enable Zoom AI Companion, in case you haven’t used it before.

Let’s dive in!

📈 How Can It Enhance
Professor-Student Meetings?

Meeting Summary

Zoom Meeting Summary uses generative AI to create a summary of designated meetings.

These summaries are accessible in three ways:

  1. Via an email to the meeting’s host or to all the participants

  2. Via the host’s web portal

  3. Via the meeting’s dedicated group chat in Zoom’s “Team Chat”

The emailed summary looks like this (with the white filler space replaced with content sensitive to what happened in the meeting, of course):

On the web portal, there is a corresponding report:

Notice in both cases that there is a “Share” button that can be used to add email addresses to manually share the Meeting Summary with:

Participants may automatically receive the Meeting Summary if you adjust the appropriate setting on the AI Companion Zoom web setting page (“Share summary with”):

Finally, the Team Chat looks like this (again, with the white filler space replaced):

If you are a professor who meets regularly with your students one-on-one, the great value of these summaries is twofold:

  1. You and your students can keep better track of what occurs in your meetings together. In my experience, students have trouble tracking all of the details when discussing their coursework with me. Often, I cover more ground than I should, not realizing that the student isn’t tracking and absorbing all of what I am conveying to them. They aren’t accustomed to receiving this much new information in a live conversation setting — they are half-focused on responding to me in real-time and trying to be polite/friendly, rather than taking notes or otherwise logging what I am advising them about. They also are not subject matter experts, so they lack the knowledge and skills to enable them to track the content as I conceptualize it (try as I might to hear myself from their perspective).

  2. Furthermore, if you have a lot of student meetings, it is very easy to lose track of what you and each student agree to do after each meeting. This always happens to me when I have back-to-back meetings. (And students tend to be quite forgetful.)

Meeting Summary addresses both problems by summarizing the meeting and listing “Next Steps.”

Smart Recording

Zoom Smart Recording uses generative AI and audio analysis software to take Meeting Summary to the next level, making it multimodal and more in-depth.

Smart Recording has several functions:

  1. It pairs the transcript (and the chat messages) from the meeting with the video, if there is one, via a side scrollbar.

  2. It divides the meeting and its video, if there is one, into “Smart Chapters” based on content.

  3. It notes highlights.

  4. It identifies action items with next steps.

  5. It provides the host with coaching analytics on a range of meeting properties.

As with Meeting Summary, if you are a professor who meets regularly with your students one-on-one, the value of Smart Recordings is that:

  1. You can set your recordings to include highlights, which can then be shared with your students along with each recording. If they are not what you want them to be, you can edit them within the Zoom web interface.

  2. You can set recordings to include a smart chapter overview, which can then be shared with your students along with each recording. As above, you can adjust them first, if need be.

  3. You can include “next steps” as part of the recording. As above, you can edit them first, if need be.

  4. You can learn from the meeting coaching analytics to improve further meetings (these analytics are private to you, the host). It is hard to get any feedback on one’s one-on-one’s since most of us lack teaching mentors, they shouldn’t and wouldn’t want to attend one-on-ones (for a range of reasons), and student feedback is limited.

To be clear, these features are add-ons that are embedded in each recording, and you can enable them one by one:

In my view, Smart Recording is best deployed for more high-stakes student meetings, like dissertation meetings with PhD students or oral exams with undergraduates.

🔗 Integrating Meeting Summary With
Your Google Docs

While you could use Meeting Summary in the Team Chat with each student, this requires you both to use Zoom to continue to communicate via text, video message, and picture. It also is a limited format — it is like an enhanced text exchange that starts with the Meeting Summary embedded in it — that isn’t integrated with your documents or files. These may be tolerable constraints in some educational contexts, but generally they won’t be.

So, that leaves email and web portal access to each Meeting Summary. Yet, students cannot access your web portal — only you can use it to manually share each Meeting Summary with your students via email. Therefore, you have two default options for sharing Meeting Summaries with students:

  1. Manually sharing each meeting summary with each student (either by forwarding it to them or inputting their email address as a recipient in the web portal).

  2. Designating, via one’s settings, that you want all participants in your meetings to receive meeting summaries.

The first option wastes time and is annoying, while the second option simply dumps the summary into the student’s email account, leaving it up to them to notice it, open it, and keep track of it.

We can do better.

Since Zoom’s Meeting Summary outputs summaries via email, it can be improved by integrating it with one’s cloud-hosted documents (and the AI systems that can leverage them). You, the professor, can have documents for each student where your meetings with that student are organized, enabling them to review what happened and what their next steps are.

In what follows, I explain how to improve your students’ learning outcomes by linking your Meeting Summaries with your documents, with a focus on Google Docs and Google Workspace (and thus Gemini). Here is a preview:

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