Optimise Zoom events with additional tools
(from the series “Good online didactics with Zoom”)
In article 02 of the series, we recommended useful functions and supplements for digital teaching that are provided in Zoom and Stud.IP. Sometimes, certain aspects of teaching should be focused on in addition. In the following, we will therefore present some additional, supplementary tools for teaching with Zoom. They are assigned to the application fieldsPreparation – Motivation in the session – Accompaniment during the semester – Accompanying working groups.
Vorbereitung der Studenten zur Moderation der Zoom-Sitzung
Since a lecture and the knowledge transfer in Zoom cannot have the same scope and the same density as in face-to-face teaching, the learners should prepare for the appointment with the help of specific instructions and guidelines. As a guideline, it is recommended that as much as possible is learned in preparation on one’s own, which does not necessarily require an introduction and derivation by the lecturer in the Zoom lecture. This applies all the more when one considers that students in the digital semester often attend several Zoom sessions per day. This sets limits to longer, attentive listening and watching in a single session from the outset.
"It is precisely [die]asynchrony that relieves teachers and students of the feeling that they now have to imitate online what otherwise happens on site at the university. In fact, it is the case-by-case selection of synchronous and asynchronous communication channels that offers the greatest added value. Face-to-face interaction cannot be replaced 1:1 even with the best tools. However, content-related learning goals can very well be achieved differently...".
Lecture recordings as well as videos or other media can be used for this purpose. These materials can then be used to complete tasks or discuss questions in advance. Video production can stimulate learning in different ways, which should also depend on the personal style of the teacher: In teaching videos of the
In addition, questions of understanding can be clarified well in advance with the feature-rich, yet clear and easily accessible discussion tool Mattermost (more below). It also allows students to engage with the new content of a lecture week together around the Zoom session.
Keeping students’ energy up over a session
With the more intensive preparation of students for an appointment and the resulting possible reduction of content for input during a Zoom session, time is also gained
Queries with Mentimeter can be designed in a differentiated and varied way. After the preparatory registration of the teacher, the students switch to the browser page of Mentimeter during a zoom session. Here, after minimal explanation, simple to complex queries can be carried out in an appealing design. The survey tools
However, using Mentimeter requires the host to change the window presented, which can be avoided with Zoom Surveys – so it is a matter of weighing up what you personally find suitable for your teaching.
Another option to increase attention is the use of a digital hand drawing with a tablet and GoodNotes. The presentation can be supplemented in a zoom session with handwritten inserts by the lecturer(s). This can also be used to highlight aspects that are particularly important to you personally.
"In summary, I can say that I have had very good experiences with Zoom in lectures. I replace my blackboard notes with an integrated iPad with the Goodnotes app in presentation mode. This allows me to flexibly highlight or supplement content for which a personal derivation is important to me."
With the digital hand drawing, another possibility is given to prepare recurring teaching talks with the students in a concise form or to document them live. At the same time, the flow of a presentation can thus be interrupted every now and then by a change of media and interaction.
Accompany Zoom events throughout the semester with digital tools
If the learners are to work out and structure scientific content step by step over many weeks, or if they have to organise their cooperation over the semester and reflect on their learning path, other tools are particularly helpful: The TU’s own Etherpad is suitable for collecting textual content of any kind in a free or less structured way. For example, it can be used to jointly and provisionally interpret initial experimental results.
The use of Mattermost is also recommended so that students can prepare for Zoom appointments with the teacher through longer-term ongoing exchanges. The tool offers a good interface for clearly displaying different discussion threads that extend over weeks or months side by side. Particularly important points, cross-references, etc. can be visually marked.
"Mattermost is a good tool for engaging in a more direct exchange with students. It's a bit of a hassle to set up this tool and it's technically complicated at times. But once the tool is systematically linked to the Zoom lecture theatre exercise, it helps the flow of information between the whole group and individual students to be much more dynamic and direct."
By having cross-semester discussions in Mattermost to support a longer learning process, tasks and problems can be gradually narrowed down and made more precise. For example, construction tasks can be discussed and designed step by step. This can also be supported by inserted sketches and drawings as needed:
Communicate with and advise student working groups through Zoom
Special support for students over a longer period of time is required when student working groups are digitally active in problem-based learning formats, project work or independent research-based learning. In these cases, Zoom dialogic can be used for communication between teachers and smaller groups of participants.
Other digital tools that support work organisation, communication and documentation between students in group and project work can be used profitably. At TUHH, good experiences have been made with the collaboration tool
Personal style and need count!
As with the selection of functions that are already integrated in Zoom (
This is the third part of our series “Good online didactics with Zoom”. It follows the articles 01 on the introduction to the topic and 02 on the concrete design of a course with Zoom and Stud.IP. The final part 04 on feedback possibilities with Zoom will be published shortly.
04 Giving feedback with Zoom (and checking with BigBlueBotton)
- Tovar, C. (2020). Teaching online for the first time thanks to Corona? Soft facts and hacks for a quick but thoughtful start. In Higher Education Forum Digitalisation. Dossier Hochschullehre in Krisenzeiten. Accessed 26.06.2020 at