Skip to Main Content

Engage Students with Zoom Tools

  • Technology & Software

Last modified: October 3, 2022

Zoom is more than a way to lecture remotely. If you meet synchronously with students on Zoom, use the built-in tools to engage students in active learning.

Managing Breakout Rooms

Video tutorial of Zoom features (6:23)

Create Breakout Rooms

In Zoom, you can create groups ahead of time or during the session. You have three options for creating breakout groups. To create breakout rooms during the session:

  1. Click on the icon for "Breakout Rooms" at the bottom of your screen.
  2. Choose the number of groups you want to create.
  3. Select how you want to divide breakout rooms.
  4. Assign groups. Select one of these options:
    • Assign automatically: Zoom creates groups and randomly assigns attendees for you.
    • Assign manually: Choose which participants will be grouped together.
      • To assign attendees to a group, click "Assign" next to the room you wish to assign participants to and select the participants to assign. Repeat this for each room.
    • Let participants choose room: The participants will see the groups and can click on the group they want to join.
  5. Click Create.
  6. If you are ready to start breakout rooms, click "Open all Rooms".

Useful Options

After creating the rooms, you can click "Options" to manage the rooms further.

  • Auto close breakout rooms after () minutes: This option automatically closes all breakout rooms and returns participants to the main meeting after the allotted time.
  • Set Countdown timer: This option will give participants a countdown of how much time they have before returning to the main room.

Communicating with Breakout Rooms

There are a few ways to communicate with students once you have them in breakout rooms

  • Broadcast message to all: This is an option on the dialog box where your breakout rooms are shown. You can create a message and it will show at the top of each person's screen. Use this to remind students of instructions or warn that time is nearly up.
  • Share your screen to all breakout rooms: If you have a slide with instructions and want to share that slide to your students in breakout rooms, you can now do this in Zoom. Click "Share Screen" in your meeting controls and enable "Share to breakout rooms" by checking the box at the bottom of the share window. You can then choose what you would like to share, including videos.
  • Join individual breakout rooms: You can pop in and out of rooms to check on students by clicking "Join" next to the group you want to join.

Conducting Polls

Like breakout rooms, polls can be created before or during the meeting. It's much easier to create them ahead of time rather than while you're trying to conduct a class meeting.

Before the meeting

  1. Go to your scheduled meeting in the Zoom web portal.
  2. Scroll to the bottom to find the "Polls/Quizzes" tab.
  3. Click "+Create" to begin building your poll.

During the meeting

  1. Click "Polls" in the meeting controls.
  2. Select the poll you want to launch from the drop down menu.
  3. Click "Launch"

Once the poll is over, you can share the results with your participants.

Using your Slides as a Background

Sometimes its hard to maintain instructor presence or a communal environment in remote learning classes. Zoom has a feature that allows students to see you better while you are giving instruction. You've probably used virtual backgrounds before. This is the same idea, but the background is your lesson slides. 

  1. Click the "Share Screen button in your meeting controls. 
  2. Choose "Advanced" at the top of the dialog box.
  3. Click "Slides as Virtual Background". This will let you browse and select your presentation file.
  4. Once your presentation is imported, your video feed will be superimposed onto the slides. 
  5. You can resize and move your video feed by clicking on it and dragging it.
  6. You will have controls for your slideshow just above your meeting controls.

There are two important items to note when using this feature:

  • Unless you've gone into your settings and selected the option to have your screen mirror you, you won't be mirrored. So when you try to point to something on the slides, you will probably point the wrong direction until you have the hang of it. You can change the mirroring in your video settings.
  • If you have animations on your slides, they will not work when you do this. Otherwise, it works just like a slideshow.