By Teacher Request: 4 Cool New Ways to Connect and Engage With Students

At Zoom, we have the honor of working with schools and universities around the world, hearing from educators at every level about their greatest challenges when it comes to communicating with students in the digital age. Their feedback has been instrumental in enabling us to develop features that meet the unique needs of educators and help them provide a more open, comfortable, and dynamic experience for all learners.

Learn about our latest features designed to help educators provide a better experience for students:

An enhanced Chromebook experience

In a virtual learning environment, we know how important it is for educators to be able to interact with their students using video, but sometimes students don’t feel comfortable turning their cameras on. We introduced features like background masking on Chromebooks and Focus Mode to promote educational equity by helping to provide privacy for students who don’t want to show their backgrounds.

Chromebook users, take note: Zoom for Chrome Progressive Web Application (PWA) now supports virtual backgrounds, including our blurred background feature. Chromebooks are a popular device for schools, so we’re excited to provide students with this feature to help support equitable learning environments. Educational institutions can even limit the virtual background library to specific backgrounds, like ones with their school’s colors or mascot, that students can choose from — and prevent students from uploading their own images. 

Share audio in Breakout Rooms

Breakout Rooms are a favorite among educators for facilitating small-group activities and discussions. Now, hosts can broadcast the audio and video from a screen share in the main session into Breakout Rooms, enabling you to show videos with audio for a richer content experience.

Here’s another new feature you might enjoy — the ability to pre-assign students to rooms within your school’s LMS. With our LTI Pro integration enhancement, you can populate Breakout Rooms from your course roster so groups are ready to go once class starts.

Instant video messages in Zoom Chat

Zoom Chat can be a great tool for real-time and asynchronous communication with students outside of class. You now have the ability to record a video message up to three minutes long that goes directly into a chat channel. 

Students can submit quick video assignments to teachers directly or post them in a group chat channel, where other students can comment and provide feedback. You can also record a short video to answer a student’s question or provide a quick explanation that might be difficult to capture in a text-based message.

Rename students in the Waiting Room

Many educational institutions have settings in place that do not allow students to rename themselves, but hosts have the ability to rename meeting participants. Now, you can rename students in the Waiting Room before admitting them to the main Zoom session, which can help affirm a student’s gender identity and preferred name or allow you to host student groups more anonymously by masking the names of those in attendance from other participants.

Coming soon: Anywhere Polls

Later this month, we’ll be releasing an enhancement to polls, a staple for driving student engagement. 

Look out for Anywhere Polls, designed to make instructors’ lives easier, which will allow polling content to live in a central library that can be accessed from any meeting on your account instead of being associated with a particular meeting. If you teach a course with multiple class sessions, this will make it easier to reuse polls across different classes. 

In the meantime, if you haven’t explored advanced polling yet, it gives you even more ways to add a variety of question types, images, and delivery options, like self-graded quizzes. 

Stay up to date on all the latest education news at Zoom on our blog, and join the Zoom Education Community to discuss these and other features that help you stay connected with students.

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