How to Get the Most out of Zoom

Posted by York & U on April 28, 2020

Academic Success

Classes are continuing in online/remote learning formats for the summer term and many of us are using technologies like Zoom for the first time. Zoom is an online conferencing platform tool that you can use for study groups, online learning and to just chat with your friends while we’re physical distancing! You’ll probably be using it a lot over the next little while so we’ve created some helpful tips to help you get the most out of Zoom while learning online. 

Prepare your environment

Creating the right remote learning environment will set you up for successIt’s so easy to get distracted by everything going on around you at home, so if you can, find a quiet space with no distractions. Your room should also have enough lighting so your professor and classmates can see you, if you choose to have your video on

Take a look at your meeting space. Is your background messy and cluttered? You don’t want people seeing that! Zoom has some different backgrounds that you can use 

To change your background in Zoom: 

  1. Go to the arrow beside the “Start Video” icon; select “Choose Virtual Background.” 
  2. Then choose “Virtual Background” at the left of your screen, and pick one of the options, or upload your own image. If you’ve always wanted to “attend” classes while sitting on a beach, here’s how to do that! 
student working at computer
For more online learning resources, visit Learning Skills Services’ Online Learning and COVID-19 web page.

Online/remote learning class etiquette

It can be tempting to treat remote learning differently than in-person classes, but you should treat them the same way in terms of etiquette. Be sure to conduct and present yourself professionally and adhere to the same standardas you would for in-person classes. When you have your video on, picking the right “top” clothing is more important than your “bottom” clothing. But if you choose not to enable your video, then of course, no one will know you’re wearing your onesie pajamas!

When you sign into Zoom, make sure to mute your microphone and turn off your webcam until you’re signed in. Once you’re connected, you can turn them on; but during the class, it might also be useful to mute your microphone when you’re not speaking so everyone else doesn’t hear the background noise of your home. The microphone and video buttons are in the toolbar at the bottom of your Zoom screen.  

Try not to speak over others. If there’s something you can’t wait to mention, you can use Chat or the “Raise Your Hand” options. You can find the Chat icon at the bottom of your screen; click it and you can write messages to the entire group or select specific people. It can also be helpful to get your questions ready in advance and submit them before the class begins if your instructor has given you that option. You can find the Raise Your Hand feature under “Participants” at the bottom of your Zoom screen.

Accessibility features in Zoom

Zoom has many accessibility features, including: 

  • Closed captioning. Zoom integrates with many third-party closed captioning providers. The Closed Captioning (cc) icon is at the bottom of your Zoom screen. 
  • Automatic Transcripts. If your instructor has recorded your meeting to the cloud, you can use the audio transcript feature to transcribe it, process a text file, and enable searching.  
  • Screen reader support. Zoom works with the latest screen readers, so you can use Zoom without a screen. 
  • Keyboard Accessibility. Zoom supports keyboard shortcuts for easy navigation of its features. 

You can find more information about Zoom’s accessibility features here.

Zoom tool bar screenshot
You’ll find the toolbar at the bottom of your Zoom screen.

We hope this post has been helpful for getting you started with Zoom. If you don’t have a computer at home, you can borrow a laptop from York – visit the Off Campus Computing page for more information.  

For more online learning resources, visit Learning Skills Services’ Online Learning and COVID-19 web page

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