Your "classroom" may be Zoom, but in contrast to a physical classroom, there are myriad distractions for all participants that make focusing on what's happening in class difficult. However, some simple strategies and use of Zoom tools can reduce distractions and help you maintain students' attention and interest.
This tutorial uses the following tools:
- Zoom annotation
- Zoom polls
- Breakout rooms
- Zoom non-verbal feedback
- Zoom chat
- Consider what each class session will include and add variety when possible. For example, try to create different chunks of the class, perhaps breaking up lecture-like elements with opportunities for students to communicate with you and other students. Also, consider if instructor-led content (e.g., lectures) can be delivered asynchronously, and then synchronous class sessions in Zoom can be used for more active learning and interactive components.
- In Zoom, there are several tools that facilitate interaction, including student-instructor interaction and student-student interaction.
- Zoom breakout rooms allow you to break students up into groups that meet individually. You can set up groups before the class or use the feature on the fly, assigning students manually or randomly. As the instructor, you can move among breakout rooms. Students can request you join their breakout rooms if they have questions, and you can send announcements to all students in all breakout rooms. You control when students are in the breakout room and when they return to the main room.
- Zoom polls give you the opportunity to prime students for the day's content at the start of class, survey the class' reaction to a recent assignment, and facilitate communication in other ways. Though you can create Zoom polls during a Zoom session, it can be distracting to do so, so polls should be written before class begins. For questions that come up during a class on the fly, consider using Zoom nonverbal feedback features.
- Students can give nonverbal feedback during a session, including raising their hands, answering yes/no, asking you to go slower/faster, among others. When students choose one of these reactions, you see that reaction next to their name in the participant list, as well as a count of the number of students who chose that reaction.
- Use the Zoom Annotation tools to allow students to collectively draw/comment on an image. This tool can be effective for brainstorming and gauging students' initial understanding of a concept. Annotated images can be saved and later posted to the class for additional activities. Coach the students to verbally describe their annotations for the benefits of anyone that cannot see the video.
- Zoom has a chat function that allows participants in a meeting to send text messages to individual participants or to everyone in the meeting. This can be useful, though in some cases can be distracting. As an instructor, you can disable the ability for students to use this feature, including turning it on and off during the class session.
- At the beginning of the semester, try to set ground rules for what you expect of students in the Zoom class session.
- Make sure to consider privacy and security features in Zoom that help protect your Zoom class sessions from distractions.