A Pedagogical Guide to Zoom Part 1 Getting Started with Zoom

Zoom’s variety of features allow for replicating face-to-face activities in remote or hybrid classes. Our Zoom pedagogical guide series offers practical advice for holding your synchronous Zoom remote or hybrid classes. Part 1 of our series, “Getting Started with Zoom: Logistics” offers suggestions and considerations on preparing for your sessions and holding office hours and conferences.
For suggestions on delivering your course content and keeping students engaged on Zoom, see Part 2 of our series, “Instruction on Zoom“.


Preparation
Preparing the details of your sessions in advance will assist in ensuring your first Zoom sessions run as smoothly as possible. Below are some of our recommendations and considerations for preparing for the first few Zoom sessions.

  • Familiarize yourself with the platform, and test your audio and video in advance. Practice setting up a headset and/or external microphone. Notice that you may need to change the input/output audio settings. 
  • Practice-run a scheduled test session for trying the variety of the Zoom features with a few of your colleagues. 
  • Check your background/teaching space: Avoid sitting in front of too much light or a window as it could impact the quality of your image. Check for any background noise that may interfere with your audio (AC, fan, etc.). 
  • Schedule your sessions in advance in a visible and easily accessible section on your BlackBoard course. BU EdTech’s webinar videos offer an overview on how to set up your Zoom link through your BlackBoard course. Note that you may also schedule your Zoom sessions through the Zoom application or your outlook; however, scheduling the class sessions through BlackBoard is helpful as it makes the Zoom links and their recordings visible to students. 
  • Email students before your first class session notifying them of Zoom’s download link, the class Zoom meeting link, and any remote classroom etiquette guidelines you may have. You may review these samples from Pardee School of Global Studies and the CAS Writing Program
  • Communicate with your moderator regarding their role in class, and when it may be necessary to give your moderator a ‘host’ role during class. Consult this guide on details for moderator roles. 
  • To provide a more inclusive and welcoming online environment, we recommend you ask students to share their preferred names/pronouns or pronunciations of their names with you on Zoom by editing their display name if they like. You may review the instructions for how participants can rename themselves on Zoom.
  • Decide on your approach to video requirements for students, and plan on communicating that information in advance. Be mindful of students who may not be comfortable sharing their backgrounds (setting virtual backgrounds are helpful in this case), or may not be comfortable being on camera themselves due to potential accessibility/connection problems, religious or cultural reasons (especially if the session is being recorded).
  • Review the LfA Classroom Recordings policy, and decide on your approach to recording your Zoom class sessions based on your class modality. You may start/stop recording at any time during your Zoom session. We recommend notifying your online and in-person students when you start/stop recordings, as doing so may impact student participation. Review our instructions for recording your Zoom sessions, and accessing and sharing the recordings with students. Note: If you haven’t added a statement regarding your recording policies on your syllabus, you may want to do so on your class LMS. 
  • Plan the last few minutes of your Zoom session. You may want to have a pre-planned closure such as an exit activity (e.g. students may share what they have learned in the chat box). You may also want to offer to stay online for a few minutes to answer quick student questions. This would replicate the typical face-to-face classes where students often have the opportunity to ask questions from faculty.

Options for Office Hours/Conferences
The modality of office hours and conferences vary depending on the type of privacy you would want for your students. Below are some options for office hours or conferences online. Whichever method you choose, we recommend you communicate this information with your students in advance, post to your LMS, and review the format and modality of your office hours/conferences.

  • You may choose to have all students join the main room and wait while the instructor holds a conference with individual students, also in the main room. This approach provides no privacy for individual students, but could be useful if the instructor is explaining concepts other students may find beneficial as well (e.g. prior to an exam). 
  • You may choose to have everyone directly join the main room, and then take the students one by one to a break-out room. This method ensures privacy for each student, and provides an opportunity for the students in the main room to interact with one another while waiting. 
  • You may choose to activate ‘waiting room’ for your Zoom session, and have students join and stay in that room until you have completed your meeting with each student in the main session. If you choose this option, we recommend sending a message to the student(s) in the waiting room to communicate an approximate waiting time.
  • Consider providing a recording option for your office hours with students. You could offer to record each individual meeting (or group meetings) per students’ request. Providing this option would make the content of your discussion more accessible for students who need it for review. If considering this option, you would want to ‘record on the cloud’, pause the recordings in between student meetings, and only resume if the next student requests being recorded. Once you have ended your Zoom session, you will receive an email from Zoom with a link to the entire session (all students combined). You will be able to access individual links for each student on your online Zoom account where your recordings are stored.

Visit CTL’s Pedagogical Partnerships Blackboard site for additional faculty resources.

Download a pdf version of this guide here