Zoom has many innovative features that can help you to deliver engaging online lessons. You can use the chat feature, use video, share your screen and record lessons. You can also annotate your screen, while sharing, using the whiteboard feature.
To use Zoom, all you need to do is download the software at www.zoom.us and sign up for a free account. (You can also download Zoom on your mobile phone, however, your main device should be your desktop or laptop.) The dashboard is simple to navigate and you can easily change settings using the button next to your name on the main page. You just need to schedule a meeting/lesson to get a link (Personal Meeting ID) that you can share with your students. Students can use the link as their room identification.
Language level and skills
Zoom’s features allow you, as the teacher, to explore and assess the four skills through rich interactions with students. In addition to screen sharing, Zoom allows you to annotate your shared screen, making lessons more interactive. You can record your lessons to the Cloud or locally – students can also record and turn recording on and off as many times as they like during a lesson (if the teacher enables this feature). Because learners can choose the time and length of their lessons, they have full control of their learning, especially if they have access to the lessons' recordings. Zoom is great for larger classes – up to 100 participants can join using the basic (free) package and more using paid monthly packages/add -on packages. (See Pricing.)
Zoom allows you to present content in various ways. For example, you can prepare your own lessons or use an e-book and share your screen with the student(s), and/or set homework using a screencast. Zoom’s HD video and high-quality audio means that you can integrate all four skills into your lessons. Students can also use the chat box feature to practise their written skills. In group classes, you can create ‘breakout rooms’ to set up small group discussions which is equivalent to putting a student with a partner(s) in class. If learners come from different countries, Zoom’s screen sharing gives you a great opportunity to develop students’ intercultural skills by sharing engaging materials such as videos and articles, and playing games. During lessons and after watching them, you can encourage students to use active questioning to analyse and evaluate their learning. You could also ask students to reflect on their lessons by recording a video and sharing it with yourself or the group.
Both learners and teachers can use the recording features to track learning. Teachers can record lessons and watch them again to assess students' strengths and weaknesses and learners can self-assess their skills by watching recorded lessons. Learners can watch the recorded lessons in a sequence to see their improvement over time. In addition, teachers can assess students’ development by showing the recorded lesson to another teacher, whom they trust, and asking for constructive feedback.
Zoom is a great tool for collaboration. Students can use the chat box with another learner, with the teacher or with the group. They can see everyone’s camera and listen to everyone. Teachers can use the breakout rooms to group learners in pairs, threes or in whatever size group they want. It's a great way to encourage pair work or group work and allow learners to work independently. Zoom is a great conference platform for groups, and teachers can hold classes for up to 500 participants (if they're brave enough!).
Supporting teaching and learning
Zoom offers many useful tools to support teaching and learning such as screen sharing, recording features and a range of annotation tools. Screen sharing allows teachers to share digital material (including video and audio) with their students and recording lessons gives learners the opportunity to revisit the content at any time and at their own pace. The annotation tools allow teachers to really engage with their teaching and learning materials by drawing, writing and highlighting anything on the screen. This helps to make the learning both accessible and visually appealing.
Technical: user safety and data security