How to use ZOOM when teaching online. A short guide.
Zoom is a tool that has become our best friend over the past months. We use it for everything nowadays considering the global circumstances, including for teaching. But do you think that as a teacher, you’re making the most out of it?
Zoom has some pretty cool features that will help you when teaching. I think we are all familiar with the screen sharing tool. If you aren’t, I’m going to give you an overview in order for you to make the most out of your lesson and I’m going to take you through the most important things I learned while completing my TEFL certification during 120 hours of virtual classroom practice through Zoom.
Step 1. This is where you can start sharing the screen.
Step 2. If you want to open the virtual whiteboard, click on this icon and then press “Share”
Step 3. This is your board! Your students will be able to see it.
Step 4. You can write on the board by clicking on the “Text” button. If you want to move the text around the board after that, Zoom won’t let you do so unless you click on the “Select” button. This will select the text box and allow you to move it anywhere.
This one explained above is very confusing, as most teachers don’t know how to move the text around the screen after they had written it. At the beginning, I didn’t know how to do it either, but after I had discovered it, this made teaching a lot easier.
If you want to stop sharing the board, just click on the red icon at the top of the screen which says “Stop Sharing”.
So, you’ve learnt how to master the board feature! Let’s go through how to play a video!
Step 1. Have an open tab with the video you want to play ready. Click on the icon displaying your browser, then click share. It’s the same as sharing your whiteboard. Don’t forget to tick computer sound in the bottom corner before you share!
Step 2. Make sure the computer sound is on. If it isn’t, your students aren’t going to hear the video properly.
Step 3. Now click on “Annotate” in order to write on the screen.
Step 4. Now everything works the same as with the whiteboard. The only difference is when you pause/resume the video, you have to click on the small “x” red icon next to the “Mouse” before you resume the video. The writing will remain on the screen. If you want to annotate it again throughout the video, just pause it and click on “Annotate” again.
And here we go! Here are some simple features of Zoom that you can use when teaching online! They make a really big difference and make classes a lot more dynamic. For example, I used the video tool in order to improve the listening skills of students. I would play a YouTube video, and then after a few seconds pause it and I would write the board what they recalled. After the end of the class, we would have a script for the whole video. You can do the same and it works really well with songs, too! You could create the lyrics of a song with your students. The most challenging thing is when they don’t understand the accent, but by replaying small sections, they will most likely be able to tell you the phrases they hear!
One of the challenges I experienced with video sharing was its usage with low speed internet. One time, my internet speed was lower than usual due to a storm and I was delivering a class to around 15 students, sharing a video. They couldn’t hear the video very well and it kept freezing. Thankfully, there was another teacher in the virtual classroom and her internet was working well, so she started sharing the video on YouTube. Meanwhile, I took control of her screen. This way, I could start/stop the video that was playing on her screen and I could also annotate what the students were saying. The class went just as usual. This is a really cool feature and you can definitely use it if you are in a situation like this. You can even make the student share the video, while you take control of their screen. Here’s how you can do it: you will see a box saying “You are viewing Alexia’s screen” for example. If you click on “View Options”, you can “Request Remote Control.”
Everything is actually easier than it sounds when you get hands on experience while teaching with Zoom, but I hope this was a useful overview before you get started with your first lessons on Zoom! In my experience as a TEFL Trainer student, using these features were very important when keeping the students engaged and I hope you are going to use them, too!