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Regular version of the site

Online tips


Virtual collaboration: Breakout Rooms

Dear teachers, you and your students can quickly master virtual collaboration in the breakout room environment. Using breakout rooms, you'll find your students to be more engaged when they return to the central meeting room. Not only will the students be refreshed from the change of the context, they will also be poised to apply what they learned while working with each other.

How to use Breakout rooms in Zoom for Teaching and learning

Helpful Techniques for better Breakout rooms

  1. Make the task clear.
  2. Orient students to the room before pushing them into it: questions they need to discuss with relevant instructions.
  3. Set clear norms for how students should engage (voice, text, video, whiteboard, etc)
  4. Provide a time for each group (make a student responsible for timing or do it in the Settings)
  5. Visit each room early on, to ensure students are working productively.

(adapted from Teaching Online Playbook, Harvard Business Publishing)

Using annotation tools

Using annotation tools on a shared screen or whiteboard is a good way to focus your students on what you are saying.

ZOOM has features which allow you or your students to write, highlight or draw something right on the screen during the meeting.

First, enable the annotation tool in your account settings: How to enable and use annotation



Then, use this tool during the meeting: Zoom EDU: Screen Share & Annotation

Share screen section and New pptx option

During the ZOOM sessions many of you share the screen with the students. But do you know how to share a section of your screen? 

This option is useful when you share a pdf document or do not use the fullscreen mode for your presentation.

How to share the section of your screen (video)


That's how it looks for you and for your students:

Teachers' view

Students' view

And that's how presentation looks for you:

And for your students:


In this case you have access to all the programme instruments, but your students have no visual noise and can concentrate their attention on your materials.



The second option we would like to share with you is using Power Point presentation as your virtual background. It's a new option, so please update your Zoom (desktop programme) to the latest version.

That's how it looks:


Students see your presentation with your face in the corner. Such format allows to show the presentation and maintain eye contact.


You can easily move to the next or the previous slide. Moreover you can change the size of your video (push 3 dots on the right) or move it to another place of the slide.

This option works well if you plan to show the presentation, without typing information over the slides.

How to choose this option:

Virtual Backgrounds + Sharing videos

Sometimes we need to hide someting on the background or just want to break the flow. 

You may use virtial backgrounds for this pupose. 

How to use a virtual background

If you are using virtual background with a logo or inscription, disable "mirrow my video" option in virtual background settings.

If you wish to have background with your subject name, please write to us (khodyreva@hse.ru).


Sometimes we need to share some videos over ZOOM (from YouTube or any prerecordered videos from your computer). 

When sharing videos, do not forget to enable these two options before the demonstration starts:


Teaching Over Video - eye contact + How to look good on ZOOM

Teaching over video may be challenging. 

3 helpful techniques for better connection with students during ZOOM meeting:

  1. Give an agenda or plan for each class by Screen Sharing a document or slide at the beginning of class. This gives students a clear idea of how the class will progress, what will be covered, and the activities they’ll engage in.
  2. Look in the camera to create eye contact with your students. This helps to create a more personal connection while teaching over video.
  3. Take time to ask questions, give comments, and get reactions from your class. Give a minute to allow your students to react, write their questions in the chat, or be unmuted to ask their questions live.

This guy looks into camera. He speaks to you.

And this one does not. He speaks with himself.

Try to look into the camera during the ZOOM meeting. It will help students to feel that you are talking to them.

This part of ZOOMhacks is about looking better on the video.

Here is a video: How to look good on zoom with your computer webcam

A short summary of this video:

  1. Find a place with bright light in front of you (for example, sit in front of the window);
  2. Your laptop camera should be slightly above your eye level (put the laptop higher);
  3. Lean forward;
  4. Check your background and make it look nicer.