As teachers adjust to the new normal of remote teaching, interfacing with students digitally has become more important than ever. However, COVID-19 has abruptly thrown teachers and students into digital learning, and it can be difficult to determine how best to use these tools. We’ve compiled a list of easy how-to tips for educators learning how to use Zoom. Our tips will assist teachers navigating the Zoom classroom for the very first time.
What Is Zoom?
Zoom is a video conferencing tool that can be used for professional meetings, webinars, chat services, and more. With the school closures due to coronavirus, schools and educators have been turning to Zoom to serve as their new digital classroom. According to the Zoom website, the company strives to make communication simpler for all and empower people to do more with their application.
Users can access Zoom on mobile, tablet, and desktop devices to make their conferencing even easier. This service also boasts that on a single call, you could have up to 1,000 video participants and 10,000 viewers. For most users, Zoom is free; however, if you’re a larger company or school looking to exclusively use Zoom, you may incur additional costs to extend meeting times and take advantage of other key features.
Zoom allows teachers to easily interact with all of their students at once, creating a pseudo-classroom experience. Teachers can set up a video call for a desired time, then send a single link to their entire class, through which students can access their digital classroom with ease. Navigating this video conferencing tool can be incredibly simple, but for those who are new, we’ve included several tips to make it even easier.
Zoom Teacher Tip: Zoom offers several management options that are well-suited for large gatherings or managing a full roster of students. Notably, Zoom allows teachers to mute students upon entry, record sessions, and even digitally raise hands.
How to Set Up a Zoom Meeting
First things first: ensure that you’ve completed the sign-up process before attempting to set up your first meeting. Teachers, students, and parents can easily sign up for Zoom by navigating to the Zoom homepage and choosing “Sign Up, It’s Free” in the top right hand corner. Follow the prompts on the page to complete the process. You should receive a confirmation email following your sign-up.
Once all parties have successfully completed the above, you’re ready to schedule a meeting. We recommend downloading the Zoom desktop app to streamline this process. In the “Home” screen of your desktop app, choose the “Schedule” button. On this page you can enter the date, time, topic of discussion, and other information you’d like your students to be mindful of during the lesson.
Additionally, teachers can enable “Mute participants upon entry”; this setting will ensure that only the teacher can be heard at the start of the meeting. Teachers can also utilize the “Waiting room” feature; this setting puts your students into a virtual space to wait until you’re ready to begin teaching.
Once you’ve entered in all the appropriate information and preferences, copy the invitation and send it off to your students. The invitation will contain the necessary steps for joining the meeting.
How to Use a Zoom Room Passcode
The Zoom room passcode feature is another important one we’d recommend for educators who are teaching students online. A Zoom room passcode is a 1-16 digit numeric code created to prevent users from making changes to the Zoom room controller. By enabling your Zoom room with a passcode, you can prevent students from making unwanted settings updates or closing out of the meeting entirely.
Creating a Zoom room passcode is simple and can be enabled by a Zoom owner or user with admin permissions. On your main Zoom page, choose “Rooms Management” and then click “Rooms”. Navigate to the room you’d like to add a passcode to and then choose “Edit”. The “Edit” button will appear in orange on the right hand side of your screen.
Scroll down to the “Room Profile” section on this page to see “Room Passcode”. Here you will be able to add a passcode of your choosing. When you’ve completed this action, click “Save Changes”, and your Zoom room will now be enabled with a passcode.
It’s important to note that teachers most commonly utilize this feature to keep unwanted participants from joining a call. Recently, teachers began noticing an unfortunate trend, known as “Zoom bombing”, gaining momentum. Zoom bombing is when an uninvited participant joins a Zoom call. These users could display inappropriate behavior, give incorrect information, and distract your students. To combat Zoom bombing, make sure to enable a passcode on your Zoom room.
Zoom Teacher Tip: Creating a unique Zoom room passcode for each of your teaching sessions will prevent overzealous students from making changes to the Zoom room controller. Adding this passcode will stop students from muting or unmuting microphones and turning video cameras on and off.
How to Record a Zoom Meeting
The recording feature in Zoom is an important one, especially for teachers and students. Teachers can use this feature to look back on recorded lessons, or supply these recordings to students who are unable to attend or need to revisit the material.
Learning how to record a Zoom meeting is simple. Once you’ve successfully started your lesson, click the red record button in the Zoom toolbar. To stop the recording, choose the “Pause/Stop” recording, or simply end the meeting.
Zoom Teacher Tip: Add your recorded Zoom meetings to your Google Classroom so students can easily reference them.
How to Mute Students in a Zoom Meeting
Teachers and students can both benefit from Zoom’s muting feature. Above, we explained that a teacher can mute all students upon entry into the Zoom meeting by enabling that function when scheduling the meeting. That’s certainly an option to keep all of your students muted during your lesson. However, if you find that students or participants are unmuting themselves, select “Manage Participants” in the Zoom toolbar. You will then see the option to “Mute All”. After choosing “Mute All”, click continue; all current and new participants will be muted unless you grant them permission to unmute.
Zoom Teacher Tip: If you’re attending a meeting in which a participant is muted and you’d like them to speak or answer a question, you can request they unmute themselves to speak to the group.
How to Use the “Raise Your Hand” Feature in a Zoom Meeting
Zoom meetings allow students to digitally “raise a hand” to ask a question or make a comment. The “Raise Hand” feature will notify the teacher or leader of the meeting that a student has a comment or question. The teacher can then unmute the student to address their concerns.
- For Students:To raise their hand in a Zoom meeting, students can choose “Participants” in the Zoom toolbar. If they click “Raise Your Hand”, you (the teacher) will be notified that you have a question. If their question is answered before you respond, they can to digitally lower their hand by simply clicking “Raise Your Hand” again.
- For Teachers:
When a student uses this feature, you will see a message appear above the “Participants” section in the Zoom toolbar. The message will read: “Jane Doe raised hand” each time a student enables the “Raise Hand” feature. Because your students will likely be muted, it’s important that you then unmute the student that has a question. To unmute a student with a raised hand, choose “Participants” in the Zoom toolbar. Then, click the “Attendees” tab; here you will see the names of students who currently have raised hands. Students will be listed in the order they raised their hands. To call on a student and unmute them, simply hover over their name and choose “Allow to talk”. You will also see the option to “Disable talking” and “Lower hand” to choose once the student’s question has been answered.
We recommend that all teachers and educators explain this feature to their students at the beginning of each lesson.
Navigating new tools in this new manner of teaching can be challenging. For further information and helpful hints about Zoom meetings, check the Zoom Help Center. To maximize your digital classroom management skills in a distance learning environment, be sure to check out all the resources that GoGuardian has to offer.
We understand that learning in an online world comes with distractions and loss of focus in some students. Educators can help keep digital learners on-task and engaged by utilizing GoGuardian Admin™. This solution helps to eliminate unwanted web browsing during coursework and protect your students from inappropriate content.
All images sourced from the Zoom Help Center.