Zoom: Set-up, Security and Solutions

Breakout Rooms

No less than 3 per group

You can create breakout rooms with only two people in them but this is discouraged. If one person in the breakout room loses internet connection or is away from their computer, the other lone individual has no one to engage with. In a large class, you could end up with a number of single individuals who need to come back into the main room (if you have set up Zoom to allow them to do this) and then you'd need to manually put in them into another room. To avoid this headache, it's best to have a minimum of 3 people in each breakout room. That way, if one person disappears, there are still others in the room to continue the task effectively.

Pre-assigning participants to a Breakout Room

To streamline group discussions and collaboration sessions between students, meeting hosts can now pre-assign students to breakout rooms. However, there are some caveats to doing so. Only U of A Zoom users may be pre-assigned, as external participants must be put into breakout rooms during the actual meeting. As well, the host must be using the Zoom desktop software version 4.5.0 or later (not a mobile app or Linux). Students may use either the Zoom desktop software version 4.5.0 or later, or the Zoom mobile app (but not through a browser on a mobile device). Finally, participants must be authenticated on the Zoom application prior to the meeting. Visit this page for more information about pre-assigning students to breakout rooms in Zoom.

Enabling Breakout Rooms

For more information about enabling and using breakout rooms, watch Zoom's video "Video Breakout Rooms".

Latecomers after the Breakout Rooms have been created

Participants who come into the room after the breakout rooms have been created will not automatically be assigned a breakout room. The host will need to manually add them to a breakout room. For this reason, we recommend not creating breakout rooms in the first 5 minutes of your class unless you have an student cohort who are extremely eager and who never arrive late. (They do exist, apparently.)

Changing group occupancy

If you want to change the number of people in a group or change the cohorts altogether, this can be done by clicking the Recreate button. Make sure you then press Open all rooms again! Note: Your current groups will be replaced.

Managing Breakout Rooms in Zoom

Learn how to use Zoom breakout rooms to allow students to work in smaller groups within your zoom meeting. This video will cover how to: enable the breakout room feature; create breakout rooms and assign participants automatically, manually and allow participants to select their own break out rooms; and lastly change options on zoom. Watch here.

Creating and Accessing Zoom Meetings Through eClass
This article describes how instructors can create and launch Zoom meetings through their eClass course. Learn more.
Educating Over Zoom

This link will take you to Zoom’s webpage “Support during the COVID-19 pandemic” and into the education section. If you scroll to the top of the page you will also find a section on Zoom Training Resources where you can find zoom tutorials and live daily demos.

For technical support with using Zoom and eClass, visit IST's Deliver Online page.

On-the-Spot Zoom Techniques
Whether online or face-to-face, sometimes you need to make quick, unexpected decisions during your class. In this webinette, we’ll explore some on-the-spot techniques to help you: quickly organize your pre-set groups of students into breakout rooms; create a poll; manage chat, video & audio. Watch here.

Effective Use of Zoom Chat

The chat function in Zoom can be a very helpful tool—when used effectively. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of chat.

Turn chat off or limit conversations

Sometimes the chat can be distracting—just like it can in a face-to-face environment. It can be distracting not only to other students but also to you as the instructor. You can turn off this feature in the chat window by clicking the button with the … icon and then selecting No one.

If you are managing the meeting on your own, it is recommended you turn the chat off if it is going to be distracting to you or the students. Turn it on only when it is appropriate to do so. If you have colleague, RA, TA or a trusted student in the meeting room with you, give them the task to manage the chat.

You can also limit conversations to the host by selecting Host only. If you have a colleague, RA or TA in the room with you, assign them as the host and set yourself as co-host. This allows you to focus on teaching/explaining/demonstrating while your colleague/RA/TA manages the chat. They can respond on your behalf, keep a track of main questions for later in the session or interrupt you if appropriate to respond to a comment in the chat.

Best practice: To allow the instructor to focus on instructing (rather than managing the room), give the RA/TA/colleague the host privileges in the room with the instructor as co-host.

Send files

You can send files to an individual or everyone in the room using the chat function. You will probably have these files stored elsewhere for the students to download (such as on eClass) but it is convenient to be able to share a file immediately during a synchronous session without them having to go elsewhere to retrieve it.

Share web links

This powerful feature allows you to share any link with students. Use this to quickly link to a Google Doc, a YouTube video, a research paper, a website, etc.

Encourage students to keep the chat on topic

It's easy to have conversations in a chat room to go off-topic. Encourage students to keep their focus on the essential aspects of the class and to avoid comments which would be discouraged in a face-to-face environment (sarcasm, complaints, argumentative approach, etc.). An on-topic chat can be very useful as it allows students to provide support to each other. Encourage students to answer each other's questions and to provide links and files when appropriate. For example, you may mention a paper by Ellen Watson in 2017 about responding to unexpected questions. As you are talking, a student may find the paper and post the link (or the PDF) in the chat for everyone to see.

Use appropriate netiquette

Just as a face-to-face conversation has some basic social rules (e.g., don't talk over one another) so are there etiquette rules (netiquette) for online chats.

Netiquette is a set of guidelines for behaviour when communicating online such as:

  • If you wouldn't say it face-to-face, you shouldn't say it online;
  • Be patient. Give people a chance to answer you;
  • Don't flood the room with repeated questions. Don't hog the room;
  • Keep private conversations private and avoid overly-social conversations in public.
  • Avoid sarcasm; it can often be misunderstood

It is recommended you have a list of your netiquette guidelines on eClass or in your syllabus so they can be referred to if necessary.

Managing inappropriateness

Unfortunately, there may be times when someone makes a comment which needs to be addressed. If the issue is minor, it may be appropriate to privately message that person and ask them to follow the chat guidelines (netiquette).

In general, if the conversation is veering off topic it may be appropriate for you (or the colleague/TA/RA) to simply mention this in the public room. "I think we're getting a bit off topic. There are some good points being made which we can discuss at another time but for right now, let's keep our focus on ---".

While rare, they may be occasions when a comment is flippant, sarcastic or diminishes the status of others in the room. Even rarer, they may be occasions when a comment is highly inappropriate and offensive. In these situations, you have the authority to remove someone from the room and it is up to you whether you set up your Zoom meeting to allow kicked-out participants to re-enter. The Zoom help pages "Managing participants in a meeting" and "Allowing removed participants or panelists to rejoin" will give you more information.

Known Issues
This article lists the current known issues, technical problems, and workarounds with Zoom online meetings. Learn more.
Preventing Online Fatigue

As we continue to instruct online, our bodies and minds are experiencing strain. This video explores questions such as "What is online fatigue?" and "What is causing online fatigue?" Vocal instructor Jennifer Spencer discusses vocal health, vocal fatigue, how our voices are reacting to the increase of working online and shares strategies on how to reduce online fatigue. Watch here

Pronoun Usage in Zoom

When using Zoom for your course interactions or meetings, you can add your pronouns after your name. For example: Taylor Nakatōmi (they, them). To do this in Zoom, you should login to your zoom account (zoom.us) and go to profile to update your name.

Currently the ability to add pronouns after your name is unavailable in Google Meet / Hangouts as our Gmail names are tied to our CCIDs.

Recording Zoom: Privacy Implications

The Information and Privacy Office's Best Practices for Recording of Lectures and Other Teaching Materials is now online. According to this statement, if you decide to record your classes and share them through the University-approved LMS, the instructor does not need to collect consent from individual students. However, instructors should include a statement on their course outline and eClass page that reflects the purposes, voluntary participation, and the duration and location of the stored file. An example statement aligned with the recommended best practices has been provided below:

Please note that class times for this course will be recorded. Recordings of this course will be used for the purposes of [add purposes, e.g. asynchronous learning, documenting conversation, etc.] and will be disclosed to other students enrolled in this section of the class [and add other people if these will be shared beyond students in class e.g., Teaching Assistants, other instructors, etc.].

Students have the right to not participate in the recording and are advised to turn off their cameras and audio prior to recording; they can still participate through text-based chat. It is recommended that students remove all identifiable and personal belongings from the space in which they will be participating.

Recordings will be made available until [add the date by which you will delete these recordings, e.g., the end of term, Dec. 30, 2020, etc.] and accessible by [indicate where recordings are stored, e.g., zoom cloud storage, Google drive, etc.]. Please direct any questions about this collection to the professor of this course [include name and email].

Set-up and Security

There are some simple steps you can take to ensure your room is more secure, minimizing the risk of 'zoom-bombing'. It should be noted that all cases of zoom bombing have taken place due to these simple steps not being followed; it's akin to going shopping and leaving your front door unlocked.

Use a password and share it separately

Zoom is pre-set to create a password for your room. However, you need to ensure this password is not automatically encoded into the weblink. To do this, go to www.zoom.us, log in, click on "My Account" at the top right and then:

  • Select Settings from the left column;
  • Scroll down to Embed password in invite link for one-click join and ensure this is not blue

You may want to have the password available on eClass and timed to become visible 10 minutes before the start of the class.

Enable the waiting room

The waiting room places participants in a holding pattern until you manually let them into the room. This allows you to filter who is coming into the room. Students should be using their proper names (or an agreed code name). Those in the waiting room who are not identifiable should not be given permission to enter the room.

However, this can be difficult to manage if there are large numbers involved. In these cases, the waiting room is helpful as it allows the instructors and others to ensure everything is set up correctly before 'opening the doors to the public'.

Have participants register in advance

One of the options available when creating your meeting is "registration". When selected, the URL (weblink) which is sent to participants takes them to a sign-in page (rather than the actual Zoom meeting room). There are some basic information requirements (name, email) but you can also add your own if you wish to (Group Name, for example). Once registered, participants are emailed a unique weblink for the meeting along with the password.

As each link is unique and is linked to the participant's name and email address (which they entered when registering), you will know if the link has been sent to others because you'll have more than one person in the room with the same name.

More information can be found on IST's webpage "Zoom Meeting Security Recommendations"

Zoom Room Aesthetics

Set Up for Online Video
This video will provide some tips, advice, and practical tools to help you feel confident while using Zoom, recording a lecture, or any other time you may need to use your computer's camera.