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Zoom basics

Breakout rooms

Break-out rooms provide an opportunity for small group discussions and collaboration.  You can set up breakout rooms at the time you schedule the meeting, or on-the-fly once you start a meeting. 

You can set-up breakout rooms, pre-assigning attendees to  a group, when you schedule a Zoom session. This approach can be used for single sessions or in recurring sessions when the breakout groups will also have the same participants.  It's important to note that pre-assigning breakout rooms can be cumbersome, take time to read the instructions on this process first. 

Within the meeting, click on the ellipses (...) within the tool bar at the bottom of the screen.  A pop-up window will appear giving you the options to assign individuals to a specific room, have a random assignment or allow attendees to choose their a room.  You can set a specific time for the breakout session. 

As host you can broadcast a message to the breakout rooms (e.g. time to move on to question #3, 5 minutes left in breakout room) and can end the breakout rooms bringing participants back to the main session. 

For detailed information see: 

Using  Breakout Rooms   (Zoom Help Centre)

Enabling Breakout Rooms (Zoom Help Centre)

Pre-assigning Breakout Rooms (Zoom Help Centre) 

Raise hand and non-verbal feedback

Non-verbal feedback is an effective engagement tool that is easy and accessible to use.   At the start of your session, remind participants where they can find these tools and explain how you will respond.   Remind students that reactions can only be used with the desktop app, and cannot be used with the web based application.   Instructions on how to download the app are available on the ITS service portal. 

The best-known feedback tool is the hands-up icon.   The host can see who put up their hand by opening the participant list.   As the host you can lower an individual's hand once you have responded. The hands-up will remain active until you as host or the attendee lowers it.  You may prefer questions are put in the chat rather than the use of the hands-up icon. 

Zoom also provides an opportunity for attendees to indicate to the host to go slower or faster.  As well, a series of emojis are also available to use.  You must enable the use of the tools in your settings when you login your Camosun Zoom account.  

Participants can communicate without interrupting by clicking on icons (yes, no, slow down, speed up). These icons are found in the Reactions menu in the toolbar, and when selected, they display on the participant's video and in the participants list until dismissed. 

You may choose to allow meeting participants to communicate without interrupting by reaction with emojis (e.g. clap, heart, laugh). These emojis are found in the Reactions menu in the toolbar, and when selected, they display on the participant's video and in the participants list for 10 seconds. Participants can change their emoji skin tone in the meeting settings

For detailed information see Non-verbal Feedback during meetings (Zoom Help Center) 



Chat can be an effective tool to engage students within a session.   Chat provides a chance for students to ask question, share a file or link, or provide feedback.    As the host you can decide whether or not chat will be enable for a session. You can also determine whether or not private chat between two attendees will be permitted. 

For detailed information see In Meeting Chat (Zoom Help Center)

Sharing screens

Zoom provides a number of options for sharing screens.  Most instructors will use this feature when presenting a slide-deck. There are a number of other way to share a screen that will enhance the engagement with content in your class.  Some other options include: 

  • Presenting a  slide deck as a background and your image in front
  • Computer audio for when a video or audio is being shared
  • More than one screen 
  • Second camera such as document camera

As host of a Zoom session, you can determine whether or not you will allows others in the session to share their screens.  Allowing students to share their screens is an effective way to conduct student presentations. 

For detailed information see: 

How do I share my screen (Zoom Help Center)

Sharing your screen content or second camera (Zoom Help Center)



Zoom's annotation feature is tool that can enhance engagement and collaboration and provide a means for an instructor to share or highlight content.  Annotation is used in conjunction with screen sharing and allows you as host and attendees (if you give this permission) to add text, draw, write on any screen.  Annotations can be saved as an image and downloaded in order to capture and retain the work that occurred within the Zoom meeting.   Annotation and screen sharing can be very effective within a break-out room. 

Using annotation tools (Zoom Help Center) 


Polling is a quick, easy way to check the opinions or thought processes of your students by posing a statement or question and gathering their responses in real time. Polls can be used at the start, end, or at select points during an online class session to engage and assess your students Zoom’s  polling feature allows for

  • simple multiple-choice polls to ask your students to state their level of agreement with a statement such as  assessing the level of student interest in a set of  topics, or
  • binary yes/no or true/false questions 
  • short answer responses

A meeting can have up to 25 polls; each poll has a limit of 10 questions. Responses can be anonymous, and a report of results can be downloaded after the meeting.  

Polling for Meeting (Zoom Help Center)

Three ways to use polls in meetings (Zoom Blog)




The Zoom whiteboard can be a useful tool to engage students in a session.  You can use the whiteboard in a similar way you used it in class to emphasize points, share a specific piece of information, illustrate your lecture with equations etc. You can also invite students to contribute to the whiteboard.  

For ideas on how to use the whiteboard Using the whiteboard