Zoom Best Practices for Students

Present yourself professionally.
Remember that, even though you may be alone in your dorm room or at home, your professor and classmates can SEE you! Tempting as it may be to join your online class or meeting wearing your PJ bottoms, you’ll want to make sure that you are presenting yourself in the best possible light at least from the waist up. Put on a clean shirt and brush through your hair and your teeth… always, Zoom or no Zoom.  Also, BE ON TIME. Even better, log on 5 minutes early to make sure everything is good to go.

Be aware of your surroundings.
Your professor and classmates can also see BEHIND you. Make sure that there is nothing in the background (traffic, other people, a pile of laundry, or my personal pet-peeve: an unmade bed) that may distract from the class. Also, think about using an appropriate virtual background, maybe go with a WashU one? Don’t chose a funny background, just don’t….

Mute is your friend.
Once you log in to the virtual classroom, be sure to ALWAYS mute your microphone (lower left-hand corner). This will help to eliminate background noise that could distract others. Remember that pressing the space bar while you’re muted will unmute you temporarily;  this is the “Push to Talk” feature.

Pay attention to the professor’s rules when it comes to Zoom etiquette.
Some professors like for students to use the “Raise Hand” feature, others don’t. So if you wish to speak, either physically raise your hand or use the “Raise Hand” button at the center of the bottom of your screen. Once the professor calls on you, unmute yourself and begin speaking. When you have finished speaking, indicate you are done by saying something like “That’s all” or “Thank you” and then mute your microphone again. Also remember to lower your hand so you won’t be called upon again unexpectedly.

Minimize personal distractions and avoid multitasking or looking at other screens.
While it may be tempting, checking out Instagram on your phone while in a Zoom class or a meeting is definitely not a good idea. Nothing says “distracted student” and “no participation points” like a face illuminated from below by the glow of a phone.
Close unneeded applications on your computer and avoid using other devices when in meetings; this will allow for your video and audio to function optimally without interference.

Also, unless your meeting host indicates it’s ok for you to eat, try not to eat while on a Zoom call – it’s very distracting to others.

Chats to everyone are a part of the Zoom Transcript.
The Zoom chat feature is a tool to make comments and ask questions without interrupting the speaker but be aware that your comments are public and are recorded in the minutes of the session. Private chats to the person recording the zoom session would also be a part of the transcript, so please keep the Zoom chat to relevant respectful conversations.
As you most likely learned in your first face-to-face classroom back in kindergarten, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”


Changing personalized settings.
While on Zoom you have access to features which allow you to change your name, add a virtual background, emojis, or other options, please do not abuse these features. While they may be useful tools for group settings, try to minimize distractions to others on the call, especially while others are speaking. Don’t chose a funny picture or a funny name, keep it simple and professional. This is higher ed, not a call with your high-school friends.


– some content in this post from DePaul University College of Education