How can I use Zoom for teaching online during the lockdown but make it more interactive? 9 instantly achievable ideas

How can i use Zoom for teaching?

How do you use Zoom for teaching in a time of Corona?

Usually, I avoid tools like Zoom for live training as I’m mostly convinced they’re a terrible idea and usually break midway through presentations.

It’s bad enough having to use the likes of Zoom for online meetings. However, I do think that Zoom is pretty good compared to something like Skype for Business, though, which seems to be permanently broken and entirely worthless.

But… I’ve been mulling over these question of how to do a better job of teaching online and how to make Zoom more interactive for awhile now.

And now, due to the Coronavirus and its influence on education I’ve had to get a bit more hands on with Zoom and use it for delivering online classes.

So, with that as a preamble, here are a few of things I tried with the Zoom webinar I did recently in an attempt to move from the “what’s theoretically possible” to “what actually worked for me”.

This was an experiment to try and make a 40 minute webinar a bit more interactive. So… for your consideration or comment here’s what I did and what I think worked:

1. Started with my face on the screen for welcome and pepeha (introduction in Māori)

After I had welcomed everyone and introduced myself, I talked for a few minutes before I shared my screen to put the slides up that I had prepared.

I also acknowledged people whose faces or names I recognised. And I had a brief conversation with one person. This took about 5 or 6 minutes.

2. Invited participants to say kia ora or hi in the chat

In a face-to-face setting we would normally do something where everyone gets a chance to introduce themselves, including by sharing their Pepeha.

This isn’t possible with a large group on Zoom, obviously, but a lot of people used the chat dialogue to do this did this after I suggested it and I think it worked well. This functioned as a kind of digital mihi whakatau or time for reciprocal greetings. 

3. Stopped screen sharing when someone interrupted with a question

At one point, someone asked me a question so I switched back to the view where everyone could see everyone else’s faces. Interestingly, it was the guy that I had talked to at the beginning. This worked better for dealing with a question midstream.

4. Invited people to answer my questions in the chat and pose their own questions in the chat

Inviting people to either answer my questions or post questions in the chat worked really well, and, if you remember to do it before you log off, you can save the chat dialogue as a txt file.

I can now use this information to create a FAQ that actually reflects real questions people wanted answers for regarding the content of my online workshop. 

5. Did a quick review towards the end

I felt my talk was a bit garbled in places but I did a quick review at the end before question time. This is just good practice in any workshop or presentation, but it helped to bring me back to what I was supposed to be talking about.

6. Stopped screen sharing 10 minutes before the end of the session

 I didn’t get through all of my slides, but I knew I was also running out of time. So I stopped the slides and switched to question time when I hit the 30 minute mark.

7. Stayed on the Zoom for 15 minutes after the session

Half of the group dropped off the call after I finished but the other half stayed to chat and ask questions. I made this offer that I’d stick around on the call explicitly as I was ending the talk.

We were recording the session and at this point we stopped recording and I let people know that. It was important to record the call so we can reuse the video, but I think people felt more comfortable with asking some of the questions after they knew that they weren’t being recorded.

I felt that these 15 minutes I spent with participants after the official session was highly engaging. Many of the folks that stayed on have now expressed an interest in signing up for another online opportunity that is more involved.

8. Scheduled a follow-up Facebook post beforehand

We had promoted the online workshop via a closed Facebook group. And I had already written and scheduled a post for before my session which would go live at the time I was due to finish.

So, this meant that without leaving the Zoom I could point people to the post for some more information and the link to the webform that we had designed for expressions of interest in another project.

I didn’t realise until I was doing my preparation for the workshop that I could schedule Facebook posts ahead of time, but I think it’s a handy thing.

Because I knew the post was scheduled I didn’t have to worry about forgetting to write or post it while I was still talking to people who wanted to stay on after the session.

9. Saved the chat as a .txt file

Before I left the call, I saved the chat dialogue which I was able to open as a .txt file afterwards. I’m on a Mac so it even prompted me to the file location which meant I didn’t have to go looking for it.

I know I mentioned it already, but the ability to save the chat and then cut and paste into a word document is a really valuable thing. I plan to use the questions posed by the participants in the expanded FAQ that I’m writing.


There you go… if you find your own tips and techniques for making Zoom any more interactive or useful, especially given that we’re all having to come to terms with using these kinds of tools in the absence of face-to-face teaching and learning then please chime in below.

 You might also enjoy this book I wrote

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

3 thoughts

  1. Thanks Graeme, That was helpful esp regarding question time. I’ve been continuing to teach my learners via Skype and one mistake I’ve made was because it is harder to accurately read people’s feelings changing from 3D reality to 2D screen images. I encouraged a learner to keep trying to give the answer after his patience had run out. He got grumpy. Thankfully, since he is a child, he made that clear and we could remedy the situation. Note to self though!

Leave a Reply