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Online Teaching Tools Zoom

Online teaching tools zoom is a subject that is increasingly relevant today, especially as we continue to struggle with the effects of coronavirus and other more localized factors that are making it difficult for our children to attend in-person classes. With all the talk of parents being asked to step in and serve as teachers themselves, there has been much discussion about the best ways to use technology and online tools to create an educational environment that is still effective, but not quite as structured as your average classroom. One of the newest solutions being employed is something called Zoom.

There are many online teaching tools we use at Zoom to ensure the best experience for our customers and participants. We have outlined some of these below, including some that you can use yourself in an upcoming meeting.

If you are a teacher, educator or trainer of any type and have decided to incorporate online teaching tools into your courses, this is a great article for you. The world of technology has made it possible for anyone to impart knowledge efficiently to others through distance learning. In order to accomplish that, all we need is Internet access and the right online education platforms and tools. This article focuses on the best online teaching tools, their options, main features, and pricing.

As an instructor, Zoom helps keep your class going if you can’t meeting in person. Synchronous online class sessions, where everyone joins a Zoom meeting at a scheduled time, is one way to create engagement when students are remote. Zoom can also support other teaching and learning scenarios. Zoom can be used on laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones, and even desk phones, giving students many ways to access the class session.

Prepare for your Zoom session

Zoom was designed to be mostly intuitive. Still, it works best if you make some key decisions and become familiar with the platform before inviting students into an online meeting.

Get started

  1. Install the softwareThe desktop version of Zoom will give you the best results and functionality when hosting a meeting. Coach your students to install it as well. Students who plan to join Zoom meetings from a mobile device should also download the Zoom mobile app.
  2. Learn more about Zoom:
    1. Get to know your host controls
    2. Read up on running a smooth meeting in Zoom 
    3. Sign up for training (offered by Zoom)
  3. Test your audio and video
    1. Visit zoom.us/test to check your internet connection, audio, and video. Do you need a headset? Which camera angle is best?
    2. If multiple meeting attendees are in the same physical space, in order to avoid feedback only one person should join the meeting with audio.
    3. Find your light! Make sure there is a light source (including windows) in front of you, not behind.

Schedule your class sessions

You can schedule Zoom meetings in a few different ways. Zoom can be enabled in your Canvas course navigation, which will be the easiest place for your students to find your meetings. You can schedule a Zoom meeting in your Canvas course and choose recurring meetings when appropriate. This way the URL will remain the same throughout the course. Remember to give your meetings a meaningful name!

If you schedule from within Canvas:

  1. Course meetings appear to students within the Canvas course site
  2. Course meeting also appear to class participants as events in the Canvas Calendar
  3. Cloud recordings of meetings can be made available through the Canvas course site
  4. You can separate course meetings from other meetings

Notes:

  • By default, the meeting host is the only one who can view and edit details about a meeting. If the host assigns scheduling privileges to another person, that person will then be able to edit and schedule meetings on the host’s behalf.
  • Only use your personal meeting ID and personal Zoom URL for unscheduled meetings. These meetings won’t be available in Canvas as mentioned above and cannot be co-hosted.
  • If your course cannot use Zoom from within Canvas, you can schedule meetings in the Zoom web portal (harvard.zoom.us) or desktop app (and share the join link with your students) or add Zoom to an Outlook meeting.
  • Already have meetings scheduled within your web portal that you need to add to Canvas? You can import Zoom meetings into your Canvas course.
  • Requiring your participants to register before joining the meeting will ensure that you will be able to download a list of participants once your meeting has concluded. 

Plan roles for students: don’t host alone

You’ll have a less stressful classroom management experience if you deputize someone else to manage aspects of the online space. By default, your TAs and any other teaching staff will be automatically added as alternative hosts for your meetings, and you can also add co-hosts during your meeting. Consider asking a TA or student to monitor the chat and another to help their peers with technology issues. That way, you can focus on teaching, and you’ll give students some extra digital skills practice.

Encourage a sense of community

The sense of presence will be enhanced when everyone shows their face via their webcam. Consider requiring students to turn on video as a key part of participation, since it is easier to engage with the class if you can see them. Students are more likely to pay attention if they know they’re on camera. Also, coach students on how to toggle to the Gallery view (this is the “Brady Bunch” view where everyone is visible to each other at the same time).

Tips to share with your students:

  • Make eye contact with the camera (the camera is the class!)
  • Mute mics when you’re not contributing
  • Find your light! Make sure there is a light source in front of you, not behind
  • Speak in a conversational tone – you won’t need to raise your voice
  • Headsets or earbuds can be very useful to improve sound quality
  • For more tips, read up on running a smooth meeting in Zoom 

Prepare for technical issues

Host a low-stakes introductory online meeting, with the sole purpose of having everyone log in, troubleshoot technical issues, and get used to the Zoom interface.

  • Arrive early enough to work out technical difficulties.
  • Have a backup plan in case of unexpected issues or difficulties (i.e. phone conference, using Canvas to facilitate the class, group discussions, or independent learning activities.). Inform students of the backup plan ahead of time so they can remain on task if technical issues occur.
  • If using slideware, review how to share your screen with your PowerPointKeynote, or Google Slides presentation. If you are using Google Slides Speaker Notes, your notes will open in a new window that is not shared with the Zoom participants. However, meeting participants will be able to see your browser URL and your open tabs.

Create an agenda

Plan for a synchronous online course session just like you would plan for an in-person class. Share your agenda with students ahead of time so students have a clear idea of how the class will progress, what will be covered, and the activities they’ll engage in. Periodically cover online etiquette and expectations of the students, or consider providing a “best practices” document that outlines the expectations.

Record your session

In the case that someone has a technical issue, you may want to offer them future access to the class material. To address this, you can record the class session.

  1. Record to the Cloud, rather than on your computer: It’s convenient to record to the cloud, as you can receive both a URL to the video and an interactive transcript. There is no storage quota on Zoom recordings, and recordings of meetings scheduled via Zoom in Canvas appear within a few hours.
  2. Start recording in the right layout: The recording layout is based on your view when you begin recording. Therefore, remember to share presentations before recording, and switch to the active speaker view rather than the gallery view (or don’t use your webcam at all), otherwise the video of you will be superimposed over the top right corner in the recording.

Notes:

  • If you set your meetings to record automatically, make sure to uncheck the “Enable join before host” option in your meeting’s settings. This will ensure no students join early and start the recording from their screen.
  • Let students know you’re going to record the session.
  • Offer students the option to mute their audio and/or turn off their video during the recording.
  • If meetings are recorded to the cloud and you are using the Canvas integration, you can find the recordings right in Canvas.
  • These recordings may be subject to different retention policies than other class session recordings.
  • Contact your local academic technology support for additional guidance on where to store the recordings and how to display them to your class.

Engage students

You can use the features of Zoom to guide different types of interactive activities. These activities offer variety to break up a long class session, and they offer different means of expression.

Chat

Using the chat tool can encourage engagement by allowing more students to interact with the live activity, rather than just listening. There are even advantages of Chat over the traditional classroom:

  • Get large numbers of responses to a question immediately, and use these responses in real-time or archive them for later. 
  • See exactly where students are on a particular issue or debate, informing who to call on next.

Think about how, when, and where you want to allow students to engage in chat. For example, are you comfortable with comments in Chat throughout the class, or only at particular moments? If you have a TA who can filter comments, you might allow students to use Chat continuously; if you don’t, you might encourage its use at discrete times. 

Notes:

  • Chat allows posts to the whole class or to one other person.
  • You can download the full chat history at the end of class if you want to keep a record.
  • Chat can be overwhelming for some students. It is recommended you offer this type of interaction as an option, but do not require it for all students.
  • Chat can also be overwhelming for you to monitor while you’re also trying to teach. Have a student or TA to monitor the chat so you can focus on teaching.

Screen annotation

Zoom has basic annotation tools (text box, free form draw/pen, shapes, and highlighter) that you can use to guide students or explain a concept. Access these tools by selecting the Annotate option when you’re sharing your screen.

Annotation controls

Note: Screen annotations are not accessible for screen reader users. If you use this feature, be sure to use accessible presentation best practices: say what you’re doing while you’re doing it, e.g., “I’m drawing a big red circle around the login button on this web page.”

Polling

Set up polls in advance and launch them during your class session.

Non-verbal and verbal feedback

Activate the non-verbal feedback feature for your meetings to allow students to communicate with the teaching staff without interrupting the meeting. Routinely check in with students to address any non-verbal feedback. This feature also allows you to manage verbal feedback, as you can instruct students to use the “raise hand” feature to indicate when they’d like to speak. Remember to keep the students muted until you call on them to avoid extraneous background noise.

Non-verbal feedback

Breakout rooms

  • You can use Zoom’s breakout rooms functionality to have students do group work. As the instructor, you can join breakout rooms, broadcast messages to the breakout rooms, and end the breakout sessions when it is time to regroup.
  • Self-select option for breakout rooms: hosts can create breakout rooms with the option for participants to self-select which breakout room they would like to join. If enabled, participants can move freely between breakout rooms, without needing the host’s help. 

Deliver accessible online class sessions

  • If you have someone designated to take notes (an accessibility best practice), you can enable closed captions and live transcription. Live transcription transcribes the meeting automatically and allows real-time viewing of the full transcript in the in-meeting side panel. 
  • You can even use closed captioning in breakout rooms
  • If you require live captioning beyond what’s provided through the live transcription feature, Zoom easily integrates with providers such as 3Play Media. Note: the cost of this service is not covered centrally.
  • All students may not see or make sense of the visual display as you intend. Get in the habit of describing whatever is happening visually on the screen.

Dive into specific teaching scenarios

Host office hours or small group discussions

  • Code review: You can use screen sharing to meet with an individual or group of students to review code. Authorizing remote screen control enables one to take control of the other’s shared application and allows for navigation, text entry, etc on the remote computer. Note that when remote screen control is enabled, your Breakout Room setting will be disabled.
  • Collaborative problem solving and brainstorming: Use the shared whiteboard feature to digitally annotate a whiteboard. Allow others in the session to annotate on the same board to share ideas and problem solving methods. A tablet is useful for handwriting.
  • Consultation: You can use Zoom’s high-quality audio and video to simply have a discussion with an individual or group of students. Easily share documents or anything else on your computer via screen sharing.
  • Control who joins your session: The waiting room allows you to provide a single Zoom session ID and the ability to invite only selected individuals into the discussion. You can also set a custom message in your waiting room that lets students know you will be with them shortly.

Pre-record video

You can present slides to further explain a topic that was only touched upon in class or if several students ask the same question. Sessions can be recorded and shared for later viewing.

Write on the board

If you usually do “boardwork” as part of a class session, you have a number of options.

  • Try the Annotation Tools (text box, free form draw/pen, shapes, and highlighter) to guide students or explain a concept.  
  • Screen share a camera input so that two cameras can be used at once during a Zoom meeting, with one focused on your writing.
    • You can also join your Zoom meeting on your phone to be able to use its camera as a second camera.
  • Use the Whiteboard feature, which works best when used with a tablet and a stylus.
  • Create a PowerPoint slide or other simple backdrop file on which you can type notes, and share those notes using Screen Sharing.
  • Create a “shared board”–perhaps managed jointly with teaching fellows–using Google Drive.
  • Prerecord the illustration as a video, then play it during class.
  • As you think about these options, keep in mind whether you need the boards to persist and be distributed to the students after class.

Host an interactive review session

Host online review sessions leading up to a midterm or exam or an entire lecture. Use Zoom’s polling feature to gather feedback on problems or topics to cover and private breakout rooms for discussion. Record the session, and share it for on-demand viewing. We advise muting all remote students and asking a TA to monitor questions in chat.

versatile online teaching tools to enrich your classroom.

1 Visme

online teaching tools - visme

Visme is an online design tool that anyone can use to create presentations, infographics, concept maps, schedules, reports and more.

It’s packed with tons of features, like free photos and graphics, customization options and an easy drag-and-drop editor that both non-designers and designers love to use.

Many tools are directed either at the educator or the student. In the case of Visme, our integrated design tools benefit both.

How Visme Can Help Teachers

Teachers are always creating content for their students to learn with. From slide presentations to fillable worksheets and more. With a Visme education license, teachers and students can use the tool together for a creative and interactive educative experience.

Below are some of the solutions Visme offers for educators at any level.

  • Interactive content as presentations and infographics
  • Visual posters and infographics
  • Webinar materials
  • Interactive schedules
  • Syllabus and lesson plans
  • Printable lists and worksheets
  • Embed third-party content like quizzes and forms
  • Share news about a class on social media or email
  • Personalized report cards
  • Personalized certificates

To help you get started, here are some handpicked Visme templates for teachers. Click on the button below each template to customize it for your own use.

Class Schedule Template

Create a class schedule in the form of a presentation and share it with your students to help them stay on track with their weekly lessons.

This class schedule template is designed with engaging colors and visuals to make it easier for students to remember the information.

online teaching tools - weekly class schedule presentation template

Customize this presentation template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Lesson Plan Template

Use a template to create a fully visual lesson plan to share with your students.

Simply input all your information and download it as a PDF or image. It’s easy to then import into your LMS or send it to students via email.

online teaching tools - lesson plan template

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Report Card Template

At the end of each semester, show students their grades by adding a little fun.

Use this report card template to input each student’s final results and inspire them to continue performing well for the rest of the year.

online teaching tools - report card

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Certificate of Completion Template

If your course isn’t part of a school curriculum, you can still instill a sense of accomplishment in your students with a certificate of completion or achievement certificate.

Use this template to add your course information and personalize it with the student’s name.

online teaching tools - teachers photography certificate template

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

How Visme Can Help Students

Visme also helps students get their work done for their online classes. Teachers can assign all sorts of assignments to be created with the tool.

Below are some ways students can use Visme:

Here are some useful Visme templates for students at the school or university level. Click on the button below each template to customize it for your own use.

Idea Web / Mind Map Template

Students thrive with graphic organizers and visual mind mapping tools. Visme makes it easy and fun to create idea webs, flowcharts and mind maps. This idea web template is perfect for finding similarities between two different topics.

online teaching tools - idea web mind map template

Customize this infographic template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Presentation Template

Research projects and book reports have been assigned as presentations since we can all remember. Help your students create better presentations with our Visme templates for students.

online teaching tools - education presentation template history timeline

Customize this presentation template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Timeline Infographic Template

Many assignments involve understanding how things happened over time. This type of visual can be apple to projects for history, literature, and social studies.

By creating a timeline infographic, students understand the process of the topic and enjoy creating it along the way.

online teaching tools - history timeline infographic template

Customize this infographic template and make it your own!Edit and Download

WIth Visme you can also create any type of graphic organizer from scratch using the free design tools that come built-in with the editor.

Watch the video below to learn more about graphic organizers and how to create one.

2 Google Classroom

online teaching tools - google classroom

Google Classroom is the low-key most versatile online teaching tool available.

This Learning Management System (LMS) is part of G Suite, which means teachers can use Google apps to create lessons, quizzes and documents all inside Google Classroom.

To use the Google Classroom app, you’ll need a G Suite for Education account. Many schools and teachers transitioned to this LMS when schools were closed due to the pandemic.

For anyone using Google products regularly, Google Classroom is easy to tackle. Inside the app, educators offer the content for the lessons, quizzes, assessments, and tests. They can also communicate with the students and parents via message boards or email.

online teaching tools - google classroom screenshot

The best thing about Google Classroom is that you can create all the content for your classes with the software of your choice. For example, you can simply use Google apps to prepare lesson materials or import any visual created with Visme.

In 2020, Google Classroom is easier to integrate with Google Meet, the new version of Google Hangouts. This has made it even easier to conduct an online class.

3 Zoom

online teaching tools - zoom

You might know Zoom from business meetings but did you know that it also works great for online teaching?

There are two ways of using Zoom; Meetings and Webinars. The most suited for interactive online teaching is Zoom Meetings, while Zoom Webinars is better for lectures. Teachers can choose with which to work at any given time.

online teaching tools - zoom webinar

Zoom Meetings have practical features that make online teaching easier, such as breakout rooms. These help teachers separate the students into groups, much like you would do in a normal classroom setting.

Each group can communicate with each other and the teacher can be notified to come in and help if needed. Since Zoom became so popular for distance learning, many other online teaching tools have incorporated seamless integrations.

4 A Web Whiteboard App

online teaching tools - aww app a web whiteboard app logo

AWW App is the perfect solution for teachers that are used to having a board to write on during class. This is a digital whiteboard where teachers can annotate much like on a regular board.

The integration between AWW and Zoom makes it easier than ever to teach a class online. You can also import PDF and PowerPoint files into AWW.

This app is great for teachers that enjoy explaining things by showing how it’s done.

The boards can be pre-created before a lesson or written on during the lecture. The settings permit students to collaborate or “come up to the board.”

Tips for Teaching Online in Zoom

The following recommendations can help get you started holding an online class in Zoom.

Prepare for your online class.

Install Zoom on your computer.

Install the Zoom client (opens new window) on your PC or Mac, and/or add the Zoom app to your mobile device.

Schedule your class session(s) in UVACollab.

Follow the steps in How do I schedule online meetings? to set up your class in your UVACollab site.

Set up your space.

When teaching online, you should work in a physical space that is conducive to holding class.  To make your virtual classroom more engaging:

  • Work in a quiet room, with minimal background noise and distractions.
  • Connect a webcam to your computer so you can be visible to your students during class.
  • Use a good microphone. A noise-cancelling headset is recommended.

Get familiar with Zoom.

Join a practice session.

Before class, join a Zoom test session (opens new window) to test your audio and webcam, and familiarize yourself with the chat and other controls.

Tip: When you enable your webcam in the test session, you might check that no distracting items appear on camera in the background.

Learn about accessibility features.

If you use a keyboard only, screen reader, or other assistive technology when navigating the web, learn about Zoom’s accessibility features and keyboard shortcuts (opens new window).

Make sure accessibility accommodations are in place.

Review UVA’s Zoom Accessibility Best Practices (opens new window) for tips to make your virtual classroom accessible to all students.

If a student has a special need for online courses, such as a requirement for live captioning, coordinate with the Student Disability Access Center (opens new window) to ensure that everything is set up for the student to participate.

Enable the Mute Participants option.

When creating your meeting for class, select the option Mute participants upon entry so students’ microphones will be disabled by default when they join the room.

For steps to enable this option, see How do I schedule online meetings?

Tip: Muting the microphone of anyone who is not speaking is a best practice to avoid background noise and allow students to stay focused on the lecture or discussion.

Test your audio and video.

Join your meeting a few minutes before class to check that your audio and video are working.

Prepare a lesson plan.

Create a document or slide with an agenda or list of topics for each class that you can share with students.

For steps to share documents and slides in Zoom, see the Zoom Help: Sharing your screen (opens new window).

Record your meeting.

Recording your class meeting to the cloud will allow students to review the discussion later. This will help students who could not attend the class or who want to reinforce their understanding of the lesson.

Recommended:  Whenever possible, record multiple short segments of lectures (rather than a single, full-length recording) so that Zoom recordings will process more quickly.

Important: Give students the option to opt out of a recorded session, in which case they can select Leave Meeting and view the recording later.

Tip: Consider following the steps to enable the audio transcript feature on your Zoom account before starting a recorded meeting. Students can then use a transcript to easily search for and skip to specific points in a video.

Zoom’s Tips and Tricks

The following tips were copied from Zoom’s Tips and Tricks: Teachers Educating on Zoom (PDF).

Tips for Virtual Lessons

  • Watch the In Meeting Controls (Basic) video from Zoom to become familiar with some fundamental meeting controls.
  • For your first class, set aside some time to introduce your students to Zoom and ensure that they’re able to connect their audio and video.
  • Give an agenda or plan for each class by screen sharing a document or slide at the beginning of class. This gives students a clear idea of how the class will progress, what will be covered, and the activities they’ll engage in. For steps to share documents and slides in Zoom, see the Zoom Help: Sharing your screen (opens new window).
  • Discuss online etiquette and expectations of the students in your first virtual class and periodically revisit the topics. You may also refer students to UVACollab’s Tips for Attending Class in Zoom.
  • Utilize the whiteboard or annotate a shared document and let your students engage as well.  For steps to use the whiteboard and annotation tools, see the Zoom Help: Sharing a whiteboard (opens new window) and Using annotation tools (opens new window).
    Suggested uses of the annotation tools:
    • Try whiteboarding math problems.
    • Have a student use annotation to highlight key ideas in a document you’re sharing.
  • Take time to promote questions, comments, and reactions from your class. Give a minute to allow your students to utilize reactions, write their questions in chat, or be unmuted to ask their questions live.  For more information about these features, see the Zoom Help: Meeting reactions (opens new window)In-Meeting Chat (opens new window), and Push to Talk (opens new window).
  • Divide into smaller groups for a discussion on a certain topic. You can use Zoom’s Breakout Room feature to either pre-assign or auto-assign students into groups for a short period of time so they may discuss things together.  For steps to use Breakout Rooms, see the Zoom Help: Managing Video Breakout Rooms (opens new window)
  • Have students be the presenter and share projects with the class. This allows your students to show what they’re working on while practicing their presentation skills. It also allows students to hear from one another. You can allow a student to present by making them a co-host during the meeting. See the Using Co-Host in a Meeting section on the Zoom Help page: Enabling and Adding a Co-Host (opens new window).

Tips for Teaching Over Video

  • Look at the camera to create eye contact with your students. This helps to create a more personal connection while teaching over video.
  • Take a second to check chat or your student’s video (if on camera) to check-in with your students and get feedback.
  • Speak as if you’re face-to-face with the class while ensuring you’re at the appropriate distance from the microphone for the best audio experience.
  • When delivering a presentation, sharing images, files or video, give your students a moment to open or take in what you’ve shared.
  • Embrace the pause. Take a moment after the end of your comments and allow for students to engage before continuing on.

Conclusion

Zoom is one of the best online teaching tools for collaborative learning; you can use it to record live lectures, invite guest speakers and experts, set up discussion groups, conduct video conferences and webinars, engage in peer-to-peer learning and socializing, share files and multimedia resources, hold team meetings, and much more.

Features a digital whiteboard that you can use to draw and write on during your live session. Zoom has the capability to share files, such as word docs and PDFs, with your participants throughout the course of your session.

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