Using Zoom for Distance Learning: The Basics

This week, I started using Zoom for distance learning with my kindergarten students. It’s been so fun to see them every day! We have done one session per day each day this week. Each of my sessions runs about one hour.

What is Zoom?

Zoom is a video conferencing application that I had never heard of before coronavirus! Once closures began, Zoom removed many of their restrictions on the basic account to allow teachers and students to connect and continue education.

You can use Zoom on a computer, laptop, tablet or cell phone, which makes it ideal for students and teachers because it allows more families to use the devices they have to connect. I’ve had students on all of these devices within my sessions this week!

Zoom for Distance Learning

Now you want to know how this can be used for teaching and learning online. Easy: you teach just like you’re standing in front of the class! They can see you and hear you, so all you need to do is make sure they can see and hear what you are instructing.

I’ve done several lessons this week, and they have all contained different components. I created an anchor chart during writing one day, and another I did a read aloud and they had a “homework” task to complete after the session was over. In a math lesson, we wrote equations using numbers from a random number spinner and solved them. I’ve also included our calendar time, which involves using a Shared Screen to show them our classroom calendar program and complete the activities.

How do I use Zoom?

It took me less than 15 minutes to set up an account, play with the settings and features, and schedule all of my sessions in advance for the week! I’m going to walk you through the setup and get you ready to use Zoom for distance learning! The first step is signing up. When you sign up, be sure to use your SCHOOL email address.

Zoom for distance learning and online learning

As soon as you sign up, you can start creating sessions for future dates and times! It’s as simple as that. These next few photos will walk you through setting up your sessions.

First, you click on “Meetings” on the left side of your profile page.

Using Zoom for distance learning and online education

Next you’ll use the Schedule a New Meeting button to create the new session. This button allows you to set up sessions for future dates. I love it because then my Zoom distance learning sessions are all set for the whole week!

Then a new page will open where you’ll actually set the details of your meeting. You choose a Topic (name) for your session, and you can add details if you choose. Then you choose the date and time.

When you set the meeting length, I choose one hour just because that’s the average time my sessions with my students run. You won’t get cut off after an hour. It’s just an approximate length. The time zone should be YOUR time zone.

I let Zoom automatically generate the Meeting ID because I don’t want to use my own personal code for every session. If you’d like a password, click the checkbox and it will automatically generate for you too.

Using Zoom for distance learning sessions

As you scroll down, there are a few technical details about how you want the meeting to be set up. I do not enable students to join before me; that allows them to talk and carry on with each other with no host present. Doesn’t it sound like a bad idea?

Honestly I do not check any of these boxed in this section. Some teachers do choose to “Mute upon entry,” which automatically turns off students’ microphones. I like to greet my kiddos and let them say hello to each other, so I mute them all after we have joined and shared a little. (I’ll show you that function a little later.)

I do not enable a waiting room or record my sessions, but that’s all personal preference too. Once you’ve made your choices, just click Save at the bottom!

Setting up Zoom sessions

Hosting a Zoom Online Learning Session

It’s time to get this party started! This graphic shows you all the features you’ll see once you log in to the meeting to start it. It is pretty self-explanatory.

Tools in a Zoom session

Now you’re ready to get teaching! I hope this tutorial helps you prepare and adjust to teaching via distance learning.

If you need some additional resources for families (or yourself!) that are super easy to implement, visit my post here: Distance Learning during COVID-19.

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