In the wake of the recent Covid-19 outbreak, many universities have decided to transition to online learning in lieu of live face-to-face learning. Instructors continue efforts to provide live support for their students and maintain consistency in their lives. One distinct tool that have stood out is Zoom, many educational institutes have used Zoom for asynchronous and synchronous learning online as this provides a live and interactive experience for students. While some instructors may have used Zoom in the past, this is a relatively new experience for most students. From my experience working at the Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation (LTIS) at the University of Victoria (UVIC), as well as a full-time student (UVIC), I have developed a guide with some of the essential Zoom tools to aid students.
Instructors may ask you to join “Breakout Rooms” in order to divide your class into smaller groups for discussion, brainstorming, or small assignments. To access this tool your instructor will enable the “Breakout Rooms”, once they have done so your screen will prompt you to leave the main room and join a “Breakout room”. Once here, students can use a series of new tools available to them.
1.The first would be Whiteboard tool, this feature allows for students to brainstorm or discuss key ideas with their colleagues and write down and save their work. It acts as a blank space to save work done in Breakout rooms and share this with your instructor at a later period or save the work for other assignments.
2.The second tool would be “Ask for Help”, if you are struggling in your “Breakout Room” to grasp a certain concept or need some assistance in prompting your discussion. This tool notifies your instructor that your room needs additional assistance. They can then come into your “Breakout Room for support”
If your preferred name or pronoun is not visible initially in your Zoom meeting. Users are able to rename themselves on Zoom. This is done simply by clicking on the “Participants” tab at the bottom of the screen, once you have done this, select your name once it prompts you to a list of all participants in the meeting. Then select the “More” option beside your name and click on “Rename”. Additionally, you can also change your profile picture by choosing the option under “Rename”
Many students are learning from their homes and may not feel comfortable with sharing their learning environment, or they may want to liven up their lectures! Changing your background is a great solution for this problem. To change your background on Zoom, users must scroll to their “Stop Video” button on the left-hand side of their screen and select the arrow above. Once you have selected the arrow, click on the “Choose Virtual Background option”, this tool will then prompt you to a series of pre-existing backgrounds that Zoom has enabled. Alternatively, if you have a green screen you can select your own images.
Raise Hand, Speed Up, Slowdown:
By selecting the “Participants” tab on the bottom of your screen, this will list all the users in your meeting. Under all the participants there are a series of actions you may use in your classroom. One of the most valuable tools for both users and instructors would be the “Raise Hand” options, this allows for students to ask questions throughout the class or participate in discussions without students speaking over one another. Another tool here is the “Speed up” or Slow Down” option, this allows for users to give feedback back to their instructor.
For more interaction with students, instructors may ask students to annotate certain documents. To access the “Annotation” tool, users must go to “View Options’ on the top right of their screens and then select the “annotate” option. Here students may choose to draw, insert text, or include stamps or emojis into the desired document.
While some of these tools may vary depending on your Zoom account, access, and institute, these have been the tools that a large number of intuitions have used. All of these tools are essential in making the most of your Zoom experience and aid you with your online learning journey.