Zoom Online School Classroom

Going Back to Online Learning? Features Designed for Your Virtual Classroom

As you and your students prepare to start the spring semester, does the ever-changing COVID-19 situation have you rethinking a return to in-person learning? Perhaps you are revisiting a hybrid model or offering online options. If so, you’re not alone — many schools and universities have announced they will be starting the year remotely.

For those who are headed back to the classroom, virtual learning will likely still remain part of the plan when students or educators can’t attend in person for whatever reason, from COVID-related quarantines to inclement weather.

We know that pivoting back to remote learning may feel like a setback for educators, administrators, and students who want to be on campus together. However, we at Zoom have been listening carefully to the education community and introduced several new features over the past year to help make the transition to remote learning easier and more engaging.

Read on for a look at how to use these Zoom features in your virtual classroom.

Create a virtual seating chart

Rearranging the Gallery View can be handy for teachers to create a virtual seating chart for their students. Now, you can save the Gallery View order for use in future class sessions. In a future session, that custom Gallery View order can be reloaded and participants’ videos will be arranged in the saved order, with any new participants appearing in the bottom-right corner.

When you save a Gallery View, it is tied to a specific Zoom meeting ID. You can set up recurring meetings, which will use the same meeting ID and settings, to schedule all sessions of a particular course in a semester. If you set up a different recurring meeting series for every course you teach, you will be able to save a unique Gallery View for each course.

Note that in order to use this feature, authentication is required and you will need to enable “Allow host to save video order” in your account settings.

Reduce distractions with Focus Mode

Many educators shared that they had trouble getting students to turn their cameras on during remote classes, which made it difficult for them to gauge classroom engagement. Focus Mode was developed based on educator feedback to allow instructors to see all students’ videos, while only allowing students to see their teacher. Not only does this promote educational equity by helping all students feel comfortable, it also reduces visual distractions from classmates.

You can even schedule meetings to start in Focus Mode, which can offer an ideal environment for proctoring exams or other situations where you want to eliminate distractions.

If you don’t see the option for Focus Mode (by clicking the “More” icon on the meeting toolbar), you may need to enable this feature in your account settings.

Make class time interactive with advanced polling & quizzing

Polling has long been a valuable feature for educators to enhance student engagement, measure the group’s understanding of a subject, and add an element of interactivity to virtual learning.

We’ve expanded our polling capabilities to include eight different question types, plus the ability to add images, which gives instructors even more flexibility with how they design their lessons. Feel free to get creative with these options:

  • Single choice: Select only one of the provided answers.
  • Multiple choice: Select multiple of the provided answers.
  • Matching: Match prompts on the left side with answers on the right side.
  • Rank order: Rank each item based on the provided scale.
  • Short answer: Respond with a short answer. The minimum and maximum allowed characters for the response can be set.
  • Long answer: Respond with a long answer. The minimum and maximum allowed characters for the response can be set.
  • Fill in the blank: Poll participants are presented with the statement and a blank, asking them to fill in the missing information based on the statement and other context provided. Multiple blanks can be added and each blank has its own answer box.
  • Rating scale: Rate a statement or the on a given scale, like 1-10 or “Not likely” to “Extremely likely.”

You can also set up polls as quizzes, meaning you can assign a correct answer for every question and score students’ accuracy.