By the end of the first quarter of 2021, the total number of Zoom accounts with more than 10 employees had surpassed 497,000. That’s an increase of 87% from previous years (Source: Mobile Marketing Reads 2021).
It’s no surprise that institutions and organisations are shifting their communications to the online world, accelerated by the pandemic.
In this article, we’ll focus on the realm of teaching online. Switching over to online teaching can be challenging and time-consuming, especially if you are more accustomed to face-to face classrooms. Hence, this guide provides 6 practical steps to familiarize yourself with the video conferencing platform.
1. Sign up for a free Zoom Account
If it’s your first time using Zoom to teach online, now is the best time to set up a basic education account which is free until the end of the year. Visit Zoom’s Education Guide: Getting Started on Zoom which walks you through the steps to complete your account and also schedule your meetings.
Once you have set up and activated your account, you will have access to a number of functions which you can explore. Take your time to understand what is best suited for you, your style of teaching, and your learners.
Ensure that you have an agenda or plan ready for the class, as well as the course materials that you will use. This will help you to gauge the duration of time that you will need. Take into account any technical issues you may face on Zoom, too. For more tips on how to create an online course with resources you already have, visit our blog here:
2. Schedule your first online class
You can easily schedule your class session ahead of time in the Zoom application. You can then copy the invitation details to send them to your students, or integrate Zoom with your online teaching platforms for a seamless learning experience (learn how to do this on OpenLearning). Rest assured that students will not need to register for an account to join your class.
If it helps, you can also create a “Test” or “Mock” class where you can practise running a class ahead of time. This is the best way for you to see the platform in action. If you’re looking for tips on how to run effective online training, have a read below:
3. Test video settings and learn how to record
Experiment with your “Test” or “Mock” class. While setting up, you can:
- Pre-set your meeting to mute participant’s microphones upon entry. This can help you to take control of your class and reduce background noise.
- Test your camera and make adjustments as necessary. It is best to conduct your Zoom class in a quiet room, preferably on your laptop or computer, rather than your mobile device.
- Test your microphone for volume and clarity. We also recommend enabling ‘closed captions’ which are automatic subtitles to improve accessibility.
- Record your test session. A pop-up will appear on all screens to inform participants that the session is being recorded. Be sure to get your participants’ consent if you wish to share the recording beyond the classroom.
4. Welcome and manage participants
On the day of the Zoom session, ensure that you join a few minutes earlier to check your internet connection. As your learners enter the call, welcome them as if you’re teaching them face-to-face — be aware of your volume and also your appearance if you are on camera.
Encourage your students to speak up when appropriate by setting the ground rules at the beginning of the class. It’s not always possible for learners to turn on their cameras, so try to connect and engage with them in other ways. Use breakout rooms if you need to form smaller groups which are more manageable.
5. Screen-sharing and using the chat function
When you share your screen, ensure your lesson plan or presentation is ready to go on another window or tab. You will be prompted to choose which screen to present for the students.
Tip: Disable any notifications from other applications running on your device.
For the chat function, you will be able to send messages to “Everyone” or “Privately” to a particular individual. This is especially useful if you are holding a class with a large group of participants or wish to encourage participation amongst learners who are shy to speak up. Of course, this is dictated by the lesson plan that you have.
6. Remember that practice makes perfect
This is a reminder that it’s alright to take your time in familiarising yourself with any new platform! Start with the basic functions and work your way through the other features. Over time, you may even be exposed to some extra creative ideas for your online teaching lesson plan that may not have been possible during your face-to-face classes.
Learning a totally new platform can be overwhelming—but fear not. Once you overcome the first step of setting up your account and familiarising yourself with the basic features, you’re already halfway there.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There is an abundance of free resources available online where you can dig a little deeper should you feel the need to. OpenLearning has loads of free tools and resources that can help you in many areas of online learning and teaching. Learn more about using Zoom for your institution on OpenLearning.
We are here to help and wish you the best in your online teaching and learning journey!
OpenLearning regularly hosts webinars, virtual workshops, and livestreams for our creator community. Check out our latest updates here: