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Upcoming Zoom features for better classroom experience

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Zoom Video Communications, Inc. plans to launch new features that will enhance student engagement and classroom management. Accessible for teachers and students everywhere, these features will be made available on the free and Zoom for Education plans.

Enhance class management

Create a virtual classroom seating arrangement, spotlight a group of presenting students, and enjoy other custom meeting views.

Customizable Gallery View

Drag and drop participants in Gallery View into whatever order you choose. This locks the gallery into a fixed configuration that won’t shift when a new person speaks or enters the room. Teachers can have students follow their view for a custom seating arrangement, which is handy for activities that involve “going around the room” in a certain order. In a future update, teachers will be able to save their custom gallery layout as a virtual seating chart.

Multi-pinning

With multi-pinning, any user may “pin” up to nine other participants on-screen in their custom personal view. This is particularly helpful for teachers and students that use American Sign Language because it does not automatically trigger the speaker to appear in the speaker view. Students who are deaf or hard of hearing can pin both teacher and interpreter on the screen for a more accessible learning experience.

Multi-spotlight

Teachers can spotlight up to nine participants for the entire meeting, creating a custom, focused group view that is visible to the entire class. This view is perfect for giving a group of students the opportunity to present to the class together.

Unmute with consent

Normally, Zoom gives final control over muting or unmuting audio to the participant for their privacy. However, in some special cases, a teacher may want the ability to selectively unmute participants’ audio. This arises in situations where students may not have the ability to unmute themselves, such as:

  • Classes for grades K-2, who may not know how to operate their microphones
  • Classes where students have physical or other constraints preventing them from accessing the mute controls
  • Physical exercise classes where students may be placed at a distance from their device
  • Music lessons where a student is playing an instrument

To protect student privacy and maintain participant control, Zoom will require the meeting host and all participants to opt in to this audio control. Once permission is granted, the same host can set up recurring classes without needing to adjust permissions before each meeting.

Participants can revoke this permission at any time, including between meetings, by accessing a list of hosts to whom they have granted this permission. A warning icon will appear next to the security icon when this setting is enabled in a meeting.

If students do not grant permission to unmute, they will still be allowed in the meeting and the host will be able to request them to unmute each time as normal.

Improve student engagement with breakout room flexibility

In a short period of time, students will have the ability to select a breakout room and move between rooms. This allows even greater flexibility in the way you structure your small group learning. You can create themed breakout rooms or reading groups and invite students to move between them based on their interests in topics. The possibilities are endless, so get creative!

Use advanced audio for professional music mode

Performing arts and music teachers — enjoy crystal-clear, professional-grade sound for your virtual lessons and performances. This option in Advanced Audio will enhance “Original Sound” mode, allowing you to disable echo cancellation and post-processing and get rid of compression. Not to get too into the weeds, but this setting will also raise audio codec quality from 22kHz to 48kHz, 96Kbps mono/192Kbps stereo for professional audio transmission in music education and performance applications.

This mode will require a professional audio interface, microphone, and headphones to allow you to offer high-quality private lessons. You will also be able to stream group performances from the same physical location — with higher-quality audio than most streaming platforms!

It’s also a good time to remind educators about the best ways to prevent unwanted visitors from disrupting your virtual classroom and for protecting your students’ privacy using Zoom’s security features.

Here are a few ways to ensure a secure virtual classroom experience:

Get a head start by setting your meeting controls before class begins

Meeting controls found in your Zoom settings that will help minimize disruptions:

  • Restrict annotation to prevent students from annotating on shared content or show the names of individuals annotating
  • Disable “Join before host” so students can’t join a meeting before you start it
  • Require a meeting passcode to join
  • Allow only authenticated users to join, which requires participants to be signed into their Zoom account with your school’s domain to join
  • Disable screen sharing for users (participants must ask for permission to share)

Get familiar with the Security icon

During the meeting you can click on the Security icon at the bottom of your meeting window to easily:

  • Lock your virtual classroom once class starts so no one else can enter
  • Force all new participants joining a meeting to enter the Waiting Room (where you can admit them on an individual basis)
  • Enable or disable participants from sharing their screens
  • Disable the chat feature to prevent participants from chatting with each other
  • Prevent participants from renaming themselves

Prevent participants from unmuting themselves

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