Knowledgebase: Online Lectures
Basic Zoom Usage Suggestions

Article Last Updated March 2020

This article describes best practices for using Zoom safely and effectively. The list was compiled by educational developers at the Centre for Teaching and Learning and the most recent version of these recommendations is available online at

  1. Mute everyone when they come into the room. Unmute only if they need to speak. Students in breakout rooms will be able to unmute.
  2. Pre-organizing students into breakout rooms is an option in Zoom—but it doesn’t work because students don’t have an account linked to UofA.
    If you need students to be in the same breakout room every time, ensure the students know which room they have been assigned to. When the come into the room, have them rename themselves (hover over their video square and press •••) and have them put the number of their room at the end of their name (e.g., Sam 3). Then the host can assign the rooms much faster.
  3. When students are in breakout rooms, the host can only go into one of them at a time. You can’t have more than one chat room window open and you can’t chat to people in other rooms. The host can, however, send a broadcast message to everyone. 
  4. Press “Connect speaker and microphone” and go through the set-up process before pressing “Join with computer audio”.
  5. Turn off students’ ability to share screen (to avoid them hijacking the room). Press the arrow beside Share Screen, choose Advanced Sharing Options…” and set Who Can Share to Host Only.
  6. For security and safety purposes, limit private chats and file-sharing. Click the chat button, click ••• and set the option to “Host only”. Co-hosts can still privately message everyone.
  7. If recording your Zoom, choose “Record to the Cloud”.
    It’s recommended you stop (not pause) the recording and then immediately turn it on again every 15 minutes or so (or at a natural break). This will result in a number of smaller videos which makes it easier and faster to upload to the cloud—and for students to download. This also follows best practice in that students are more likely to engage in a 15-min video, spending time to reflect on their learning before moving onto the next section of the video. 
  8. Turn off virtual background as there is a potential for people to use it inappropriately. This can be done via the Meeting settings at (when logged in with your account).
  9. Think about giving your RA/TA or a trusted student the hosting rights (with you as co-host). This way you can concentrate on delivery while the RA/TA/TS manages breakout rooms, chat and other management issues.
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