I have recently had a good look at different Zoom features and realized that I could make my Zoom sessions a bit more effective and efficient by simply tweaking some of the MQ default settings.

For detailed guides and how-to videos see this newly released Zoom for Teaching module.

Tweak 1: Allow file sharing in chat

MQ default setting does not allow file-sharing in chat. There is a good reason for it – what if someone accidently shares a dodgy file or sends some malware? Also, why share a file when you can share a link and students can download/access it there?

While sharing a link is indeed my preferred approach, invariably somebody would have access issues. They panic, your worry about them, spend time finding a work-around for them… This is where having an option of sending a file directly in Zoom, even if it’s just to 1-2 participants, can add value.

You can adjust this setting in your Zoom account by going to Settings- Meeting- Send files via meeting chat.

What can you do with file-sharing?

  • Troubleshoot if someone is unable to access an online document (e.g., an activity template) or have trouble logging in iLearn.
  • Students can share files in their breakout rooms to give peer feedback or work on a collaborative assignment.

Tweak 2: Auto save chats

MQ default option seems to be not to auto-save chat. Personally, I like having a record of the chats in case I need it. You can enable this feature by going to Settings-Meeting-Auto Saving Chats

Tweak 3: Save poll results

Polls are probably my favourite feature in Zoom classrooms. Not only do they allow you to take a pulse of student learning or their perceptions of class pace or content, but they also work great for mini-icebreakers and self-reflection (e.g., Rank how worried you are about the upcoming assignment OR choose which assignment area do you think might be the most challenging for you).

Polls have an anonymous ‘look and feel’ and can be made completely anonymous on the back end by clicking one button.

Polls also give you a real-time tally of how many participants have responded to your questions (see screenshot below) and you can project the combined results to the participants.

MQ default setting is NOT to record the poll results. If you would like to have a record of how different students responded, you need to turn on a ‘save poll results’ function in your settings.

Go to ‘Settings – Recordings- Save poll results shared during the meeting/webinar’.

Tweak 4: Enable auto-save whiteboards

Whiteboard is a good feature to add interactivity to your Zoom sessions. It allows participants to mark up a blank slide, e.g., add text or symbols. Personally, I’d use it for brainstorms or solving math and other problems.

MQ default setting is not to save the whiteboard outputs, but you can change it by going to the settings and enable ‘auto-save’ for whiteboard content. Just to go ‘Settings-Meetings-Whiteboard’.

Engagement tip: you can make annotations anonymous by selecting ‘Hide Names of Annotators’.

Good practice tip: Once done with the activity, disable annotations to avoid participants accidently adding marks to your slides.

Word of caution: Whiteboard auto-saving will work for whiteboards only. If students are annotating your slide deck or a worksheet, you’ll need to take a screenshot to save the results of their work.

Bonus tip: Consider ‘re-usable’ links for your meetings

Having multiple links is more secure and allows creating more accurate attendance, chat and activity reports as it will be a self-contained report. However, multiple links can also be confusing for you and your students. Feedback from MQ students in 2020 indicated that they strongly prefer recurring links.

I happen to be on a lazy efficient side, and prefer ‘re-usable’ links, especially for meetings or consultations. You can create a ‘reusable’ link by choosing ‘Recurring – No fixed time’ when you plan a meeting.

If you have never done this before, come along to our ‘Teaching via Zoom’ workshop. We will be practicing this and other Zoom skills to get you ready for the new semester.

Check out our upcoming Zoom workshops!

Teaching via Zoom: Basics

Teaching via Zoom: Advanced

Teaching via Zoom: Bring your own questions

Feel free to share with others – we would love to help as many people as possible!

Check out this Teaching via Zoom Guide

This Teaching via Zoom Instructional Guide outlines the options available to help you make your Zoom sessions more interactive, covering screen sharing, polls, chat & reactions, breakout rooms and recording Zoom meetings.

Header image credits: Vectorjuice at Freepik

Posted by Olga Kozar

I'm a 'long-term' Mq girl. I did my PhD here and taught on different courses, ranging from 1st year to PhD students. I now work in Learning and Teaching, which I love. I have 2 young kids and a dog, and I love meeting other Mq people, so give me a shout if you'd like to talk 'learning and teaching' or would like to brainstorm together.

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