Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov, PhD
This semester I used Zoom much more than merely an extension of my in-person classes for students who are unable to be in class in person. Zoom became my primary classroom for one month to complete all on-campus courses.
Here are 27 tips to make your classes run successfully on Zoom.
Tip 1. Schedule the meeting using Zoom security settings. When you plan to have a Zoom meeting, go online on Zoom and review all features on how you plan to run the session before sending the link to your participants. Check the Meetings tab on your Zoom profile. https://zoom.us/meeting/schedule
Tip 2. Once you set a security setting, make sure you send the link to your participants via e-mail and use the phone numbers from your country to avoid your meeting participants to dial in without paying long-distance charges. You can access zoom numbers online once you signed in to zoom account: https://zoom.us/zoomconference
Tip 3: If you want people to register for your meeting, then tick the registration required box when setting your session, so you know how many are coming.
Tip 4: Only enable “join before host” Zoom function if you are setting private meetings, and you trust participants that they will be able to manage the session before you arrive. It can also be a useful function if you might be late, so other participants can connect before you arrive.
Tip 5: Good practice in starting Zoom meetings is to mute participants before they enter and to greet everyone when possible. It will allow everyone to learn the mute/unmute function and test their equipment when they reply to your greeting.
Tip 6: Never record meetings and ask participants to do the same to protect the privacy of all attendees. If I need to record a video, I usually do it before or after the Zoom meeting. The only time you can record the meeting if you receive prior written consent from all participants and inform participants before signing in that the session will be recorded.
Tip 7: Embed password in the meeting link for one-click join. In such a way, you protect your password. Be mindful that the one-click links can be shared, and you might get some unwanted participants to join your meeting.
Tip 8: To prevent Zoombombing (unwanted participants from taking over your meeting) enable a waiting room in your meeting set up on zoom.us and only allow registered participants to join the main room by screening the waiting room. In such a way you will have attendees full name and e-mail addresses to report if they are acting inappropriately
Tip 9: Prevent participants from saving chat by clicking the appropriate box on the basic in meeting setting tab on Zoom to avoid any personal data exported from the chat. Participants can still do a screengrab, but nothing can stop participants from doing that without your knowledge.
Tip 10: When you start the meeting, inform participants that no screen recordings, screenshots are permitted during the session. If any information is shared from the session, participants will be liable for the breach and will face consequences that are similar to classroom conduct violations.
Tip 11: Only allow chat and file transfer in chats between participants when you trust participants that they will not abuse this feature and will not transmit viruses\malware software through Zoom chat.
Tip 12: Use breakout rooms to allow participants to do a group project and have small group discussions. Breakout rooms allow participants to work in teams, and the host can always enter the room if any team might need help.
Tip 13: Use annotation/whiteboard Zoom functions to allow participants to create art collage / crowdsource ideas, practice arts and have some fun brainstorming session
Tip 14: Only allow trusted participants to share their screen. Disable desktop/screen share for users when setting your meeting to avoid unwanted participants to take over control over your meeting
Tip 15: Mute audio/video for the participant when you noticed that they forgot to do it by themselves or do not know how to do it to avoid potentially embarrassing moments that are widely documented #Zoomfails
Tip 16: Allow participants to rename themselves to protect their privacy. I encourage my students to use their first name only, so I know who is present, but no full name is displayed in case someone takes a screenshot of the meeting.
Tip 17: Share your screen only when necessary to avoid possibly sharing any personal information that you have on your computer as the screen share shows everything you have on your screen.
Tip 18: Allow users to replace their background with any selected image. Choose or upload an image in the Zoom Desktop application settings. The virtual background will allow participants to hide their room background and avoid any embarrassing moments in case someone might be in the room (check #Zoomfails). You can also sit closer to the wall to avoid any distractions in the background.
Tip 19. Having all participants with their faces on the screen can be overwhelming. Teaching to a no face screen is challenging too. Ask participants who can share their videos to do so and be okay when someone is not sharing their video.
Tip 20: Show a “Join from your browser” link and allow participants to bypass the Zoom application download process, and join a meeting directly from their browser. This is a workaround for participants who are unable to download, install, or run applications. Note that the meeting experience from the browser is limited
Tip 21: As a host be prepared to remove anyone who is not conforming to your Zoom room rules. Zoom allows the host to remove any participant from the meeting and ban them from attending the future meetings. Use the waiting room feature to screen for anyone who can disrupt the meeting.
Tip 22: If you need to post any Zoom screenshot, please blur out any private/sensitive information to avoid potential privacy breaches (e.g. Boris Johnson inappropriate post on Twitter).
Tip 23: Go Mobile. There is a mobile Zoom app for your smartphone. In case your computer is not working you can still run Zoom meeting on phone. Zoom app is full-featured and a great tool when you need it.
Tip 24: Add a picture to your Zoom profile. The image will be present when your video is turned off.
Tip 25: Invest in good microphone/headset. A dedicated microphone and headset may provide a better experience for participants rather than using the integrated/built-in microphones and speakers in your laptop. I use Jabra Evolve 65, but the price went significantly up after the COVID-19 due to increased demand. If you do not need a wireless headphone, choose something more reasonably priced.
Tip 26: Use Zoom Customer Support Zoom has excellent support. Their customer support center is available 24×7 and they maintain a wealth of excellent resources to guide you through almost any scenario. My students never needed to contact support center as Zoom worked for them perfectly and is a reliable system that proves to be working when other web conferencing software fail, crush, freeze, or stop working.
Tip 27: Share your privacy concerns with Zoom to make the platform even better. There is a reason why many use Zoom: it simply works. If your university/organization is not recommending Zoom, ask them to reconsider their decision as Zoom is used by millions and address many security concerns that were recently identified in the media. Instead of banning Zoom, help to make the Zoom platform more accessible, secure, safe to use for everyone.
My students praised Zoom and commented on the great experience they had using it in times when they cannot attend classes. Know that Harvard School of Education uses Zoom. The University of British Columbia and BC Schools licensed Zoom to support students learning. Check their webpages to learn about any new security measures Zoom installed to make your Zoom experience even better.
If you have any other tips for using Zoom successfully, please let me know, and I will add them to the list.
Watch helpful videos on Zoom Youtube Channel or check my Youtube playlist with many useful videos on how to use Zoom successfully.
Learn more on how to use Zoom in your classroom in the following academic article:
Sutterlin, J. (2018). Learning is Social with Zoom Video Conferencing in your Classroom. eLearn, 2018(12), 5.