Teaching with Zoom – didactically viewed

(from the series “Good online didactics with Zoom”)

Many questions and problems with teaching in the digital Corona semester are very similar to the old ones: It seems comparatively feasible to offer students a stream – analogue or digital – to convey subject knowledge. In other words, to tailor a sequence of teaching units that are instructed and transmitted by the teacher in a ‘room’ at a scheduled time. The result is then, first of all, predominantly ‘receptive learning’ (Reinmann 2015), where communication is largely one-way from the teacher to the students.

This can mean that the lecture, the lecture hall exercise or other event formats in which the teaching lecture plays a decisive role are transferred comparatively directly from the analogue to the digital world. However, the specific advantages and potentials of digital teaching, which can be used to implement contemporary university didactics in such a way that subject-specific and personal learning goals are convincingly achieved, would remain unused (André 2018, Handke 2020).

The corona crisis raises familiar questions about teaching under new auspices: How can I maintain, constantly renew and stimulate attention and motivation in the course of a teaching unit of 60 or 90 minutes, even with digital teaching through active learning (Freeman et al. 2014, Lüth 2014)? How can I stimulate students to think for themselves, enable them to learn as independently as possible and get them to work together (Simon 2020)? And finally, how can I keep interspersing my own or peer feedback?

Finding answers to these questions is particularly important in digital teaching: the senses are addressed in a significantly reduced way when simply listening and watching in online video conferencing systems, which makes concentrated learning more difficult. Even more than in the analogue world, it is therefore important to enable a good balance of receptive and active-practising or active-creative learning parts and to use different media for this. If possible, this should go hand in hand with the learners’ own examination of a subject-related question or problem.

Therefore, when teaching with Zoom, some things have to be considered that were already important for the planning of the course: What learning goals do I want to aim for as a teacher, in the short term at the deadline and in the long term by the end of the semester? What level of competence is associated with each of these? And finally: What communicative and didactic tools are available for this in the digital semester? Is it enough to concentrate on Zoom and Stud.IP or do I have to use special digital tools for my personal teaching goals?

It seems reasonable to assume that only digitally mediated listening with simultaneous view of the ‘host’ in a screen window is too narrow a digital learning scenario for this. And an additionally offered presentation, shared via screen sharing, remains similarly ambivalent as in face-to-face teaching: mostly necessary and helpful, but alone no guarantee for longer-lasting, motivating learning and understanding. In order to expand the digital teaching approach, it is more important than ever to first of all wisely limit the speaking parts through one’s own input of expertise and instruction. This is best done by outsourcing content and having students prepare independently and accurately before a conference session. And that this is also obligatorily demanded of the learners in the new digital division of labour in university teaching and not just offered.

In the following articles we will present step-by-step options with Zoom, Stud.IP and other selected tools. In this way, we want to enable you to make more out of your Zoom session than a version of a course translated into digital, which requires students to listen in an even more disciplined way, albeit with the latest technology.

If you would like to discuss the use of other platforms, e.g. BigBlueButton, please do not hesitate to contact us.

This is the first part of our series “Good online didactics with Zoom”. This introduction to the topic will be followed by articles 02 on the various functions of Zoom and 03 on other tools that can be combined with Zoom. Part 04 on feedback possibilities with Zoom will be published shortly.

01 Teaching with Zoom – didactically speaking

02 Hands on – designing a course with Zoom and Stud.IP

03 Optimise Zoom events with additional tools

04 Giving feedback with Zoom (and checking with BigBlueButton)


  • André, J. (2018). Generating knowledge, not reproducing it. Why we need to reorganise learning. Accessed 14.05.2020 at https://www.future-skills.net/meinungen/andre-warum-wir-lernen-neu-organisieren-muessen.
  • Freeman, S. et al. (2014).
  • Handke, Jürgen (2020). Digital Lehren (nicht nur in) Corona-Zeiten (Youtube-Kanal des Stifterverbands für die deutsche Wissenschaft). Accessed on 14.05.2020 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSBrt4RFI50
  • Lüth, T. (2014) Active learning in W2HD. Accessed 14.05.2020 at https://www2.tuhh.de/zll/blog/aktives-lernen-bei-w2hd
  • Reimann, G. (2015). Study text Didactic Design. University of Hamburg. Accessed on 18.06.2020 at https://gabi-reinmann.de/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Studientext_DD_Sept2015.pdf.
  • Simon, S. (2020). “Activating students online”. Accessed 14.05.2020 at https://www2.tuhh.de/zll/blog/studierende-aktivieren-online.

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