Zoom provides video conferencing with real-time messaging and content. It provides various tools to interact with participants in a meeting as well as some capturing options. This guide covers general information about using the Zoom web app or desktop client.

For information about using Zoom within Canvas, see our Zoom Canvas Integration Guide.

Things to know

  • Privacy and security is important when using a video conferencing tool.  Please review the Privacy and Security recommendations on this page before using Zoom.  Also, we have a guide titled Zoombombing: Prevention and Response
  • Zoom can be more bandwidth and computer intensive than a student may have access to at home. Consider how you will provide alternate instruction if a student couldn’t join in a Zoom meeting.
  • Zoom can be used in browser or in standalone applications on a computer or smartphone.
  • Only the host needs an account to hold a Zoom meeting. People attending a meeting don’t need an account.
  • Testing, testing, testing! Before you use Zoom in the classroom, try out all the different features you think you might use to get familiar with them.
  • For tips on improving the quality of the video you send over Zoom, see our Filming Recommendations page.

Getting Started

All UMW students, faculty, and staff have access to a licensed Zoom account. To use this, you will first need to set up your UMW Zoom account by going to https://umw-sso.zoom.us/, clicking “Sign In,” and logging in with your UMW Net ID and password.

Zoom accounts are managed by the UMW IT department. If you have issues accessing, setting up, or otherwise using your UMW Zoom account, contact the IT Help Desk for support.

Hosting a Meeting and Inviting Students

Once you have created an account, hosting a meeting is as easy as selecting “Host a Meeting” from the browser or “New Meeting” from the desktop application.

There are multiple way to invite a student or students to a meeting. The Zoom support documentation goes through all the ways that you might invite people to join you in a meeting.

Standalone Applications, Plugins, and Mobile App

Zoom has a variety of standalone applications available for download including desktop apps, software plugins, and an app for Apple or Android.


While most modern video/webcams, microphones, and browsers work with Zoom, it is important to test out your setup before any meeting. You can find suggestions and more information about system requirements when using Zoom on their website. You can also find out more information about testing your audio, video, and screen-sharing on the Zoom website.

Using Zoom for Virtual Office Hours

Zoom is a great option for meeting with students one-on-one for office hours or advising. You can:

  • Utilize the scheduling function of Zoom to send individual invites to students to meet you at a specific day/time.
  • During your usual office hours, use your personal meeting ID or a  recurring meeting to have students drop in to meet with you (consider enabling the Waiting Room feature so that students don’t drop in on a meeting in progress).
  • Include the link to your open office hours meeting in your Canvas syllabus, or in a Canvas announcement.

Using Zoom for Synchronous Lecture

Zoom can serve as a platform for live synchronous remote lectures. If you want to go this route, here are some suggestions:

  • Schedule a recurring meeting to have students meet you in a consistent meeting space.
  • Utilize screen sharing to share any material on the screen with students.
  • Use the file sharing capabilities to share relevant materials on the fly.
  • Utilize the annotation features in screen sharing to annotate and highlight material.
  • Use the whiteboard feature in screen sharing.
  • Record your lecture for later use or for those unable to attend.
    • Note: Zoom does not provide automatic closed captioning. If you plan on sharing your recording, you can generate auto-captions by uploading the video to the following services:
  • You can also use Zoom for directly within your Canvas course. See our Zoom Canvas Integration guide for more information

Pre-Assigning Breakout Rooms

Zoom Privacy and IT Security Recommendations

With the increasingly widespread use of Zoom, we’re seeing different privacy and IT security issues that you need to be aware of.  Of note, a current rush of “Zoom bombing” – uninvited participants dropping into Zoom meetings to share inappropriate or distracting audio, video, or images. To prevent this and other privacy and IT security issues, please follow these recommendations and safety tips when using Zoom (whether a free, shared, or UMW-owned account). 

  • See our page Zoombombing:  Prevention and Response for detailed tips
  • Avoid sharing your meeting link publicly (on social media or a public website). Share the link in a closed environment like Canvas or direct email. 
  • Get familiar with the “Security” button options available in the Zoom tool tray when acting as host. You should consider some of the following:
    • Change your screen sharing settings to only allow host to share. NoteIf you are using a UMW-owned Zoom account, we have edited the settings to make this the default. You will need to change the settings during your meeting if you want to allow other participants to share their screen. 
    • Turn on the Passcode feature for your regular class sessions. Your students will still be able to access the meeting via the link you share with them, but this will stop random intruders from across the internet from accessing your session.
    • Turn on the Waiting Room feature for your office hours. This will require the host to approve every participant before entry into the meeting. Keep in mind that if a participant is disconnected, you will need to re-approve them for entry, so this option requires keeping an eye on your Zoom notifications during the meeting. 
    • Alternatively, consider locking your meeting once all attendees are present. Keep in mind that if a participant loses connection, they will not be able to reenter unless you unlock the meeting. 
  • Keep the camera on your computer covered and microphone turned off when not in use.
  • Don’t use the same password for your Zoom account that you use for other systems.

For more information, we recommend these two articles:
From the Zoom blog: Best Practices for Securing Your Virtual Classroom
From the Electronic Frontier Foundation: 
Harden Your Zoom Settings to Protect Your Privacy and Avoid Trolls

Canvas-Zoom Integration

If you plan on using Canvas and Zoom in your class you should consider using the integration available in Canvas. This integration allows you to do several things from right inside Canvas, including:

  • Scheduling a meeting
  • Starting a meeting
  • Students joining a meeting
  • Accessing a meeting that has been recorded to the cloud.

Please see the Using Zoom in Canvas guide we have created for details on how to implement this in your course.