“Don't explain computers to laymen. Simpler to explain sex to a virgin.” - Robert A. Heinlein
Computers and smartphones have become an essential part of our everyday lives. From useful to useless, apps can entertain us or make our lives easier. The must-have app of 2020 was Zoom.
So how can you use this app for online tutorials?
Start by Downloading Zoom
Zoom was the darling app of 2020. Whether it was to chat with friends, colleagues, or learn remotely, the tool was essential. To get started with Zoom, you’ll need to first download it.
You can get Zoom on Windows, Mac, and Linux. As for smartphones, you can download it on both Android and iOS. You’ll likely be able to download it for whatever device you have.
If you want to use Zoom on your computer, just visit the Zoom website and use the download link. You then just have to run the installer. The next step involves creating an account. You can create a free account or sign up for one of the premium plans.
If you want to download Zoom for your smartphone, you’ll have to go to either the App Store or Google Play and then search for Zoom. You then just have to install it like you would any other app.
Once you’ve created your account, you can access Zoom and enjoy the features that your plan grants access to. You can launch a meeting, share your screen in a Zoom Room, invite others to a meeting, etc.
Start a Meeting with Zoom
Starting a meeting with Zoom is easy. Unlike Skype where you need to add contacts and then call them, Zoom uses links to bring users into the meeting.
To do this, you can click on the “New Meeting” button and then alter the settings and schedule the meeting. You can copy and paste the invitation to the invitees. Once it’s time for the meeting, the host can start it.
You can also set up a password for participants to use when joining. For online tutorials, this will be the tutor. With a password, you don’t have to worry about unwanted users crashing your meeting or “Zoombombing”.
Zoombombing is when malicious users access Zoom meetings and broadcast illicit content. These problems have been a regular occurrence with Zoom during lockdowns and restrictions.
With password-protected meetings, these problems occur less often. The host can activate these options if they want. It’s highly recommended that you password-protect meetings, especially if you’re teaching young children.
Zoom Keyboard Shortcuts
To get the most out of Zoom during your online tutorials, you should know a few keyboard shortcuts:
- Alt+M (Cmd+M on Mac): Mute and unmute all participants.
- Alt+V: Turn the video on/off.
- Alt+S: Start or stop sharing your screen.
- Alt+R: Start or stop local recording.
- Alt+F: Fullscreen on/off.
- Alt+Q: End the meeting.
- Alt+L: Swap between portrait and landscape.
- Alt+Shift+T: Screenshot.
These keyboard shortcuts will allow you to quickly use and access a lot of Zoom’s features and functions. You can also change the shortcuts if you don’t like them.
How to Save Lessons on Zoom
This feature isn’t available with the free account, but you can record each meeting with the paid plans. This is particularly useful if you need to go back over any part of the lesson. Students will need the host’s permission to save the meeting.
You can save the lessons on the cloud or as an MP4 video file, which you can choose in the settings.
If you save your videos to the cloud, you can access the video, audio, and text chat and the transcription is also available for certain paid plans. For transparency, every participant can see that you’re recording the session.
Several people can record the session at the same time, too.
If you’re using a smartphone, you can still record the meeting but this will automatically be saved to the cloud.
So how can you find the videos once they’ve been saved?
Through the Zoom web portal, you can access your recordings in Account Management and then Recording Management. You can also pause the recording and unpause it as you wish.
Whether a student wants to go back over the lesson, take notes, or share the lesson, they’ll have to ask their tutor before they can record it. As the host of the meeting, it’s up to the tutor whether or not to allow it.
Advice for Using Zoom for Online Academic Support Tutorials
Some Zoom features can help you get the most out of each tutorial.
Using Two Windows
Both the tutor and the student can benefit from using a window to see the other and a window for the lesson. If you have two monitors or screens, you can put one on each.
For group classes, it can be useful to mute users and unmute them when it’s their turn to speak. Thus, the tutor can speak without hearing each user’s background noise.
Noises can quickly disrupt a lesson and students can quickly get distracted looking to see who said what or what made a particular noise.
Set the Quality to HD
Zoom doesn’t automatically choose the highest video quality because HD video takes up more bandwidth. However, HD video can be useful for clearly seeing the tutor or the students. You can choose the HD option in the settings and get the best image quality.
If your computer or internet connection can’t support HD video, don’t hesitate to switch back to SD.
Create a Waiting Room
Before a lesson, several students will probably already be online. You can have everyone wait in a Waiting Room until the class begins. This is a useful way to check that everyone’s there and that there aren’t any intruders.
If you don’t want your students or tutor to see what’s happening, you can use virtual backgrounds. You can choose an image or pick one of Zoom’s.
You can use each of these features to improve the lessons. There are also video enhancements and other features you can use, but the ones that we’ve listed are probably the most useful for online tutors.
If you're interested in private tutoring or learning from a tutor, check out Superprof. There are thousands of tutors in the UK and around the world ready to teach you a variety of different skills and subjects.
There are three main ways to get private tutorials: face-to-face, online, or in a group. Each way of learning comes with its pros and cons and it's up to you to choose which type and which tutor works for you.
Face-to-face tutorials are usually the most expensive but that's because you get tailored lessons and a lot of the tutors will travel to you. You'll be the only student in the class and can learn what you want, how you want. Of course, with the pandemic, these types of tutorials have become less feasible and, with the ever-changing restrictions, you mightn't want to start face-to-face lessons just to have them cancelled the next week.
As we mentioned, online tutorials have saved the day for many tutors and students and since the tutor isn't there in the room with you and doesn't have to travel to all their other lessons, they're cheaper than face-to-face tutorials and completely COVID-safe. Of course, while these tutorials can be just as effective as face-to-face for academic subjects, they aren't often as effective when it comes to hands-on subjects and skills.
Finally, group tutorials are usually the cheapest option available and are great for those on a budget. However, much like the face-to-face tutorials, group tutorials aren't recommended during the global pandemic and are almost impossible to organise given the various restrictions and lockdowns.
Don't forget that many of the tutors on Superprof offer the first lesson for free. While these won't be a typical lesson, they are an excellent opportunity to chat to the tutor, ask them about how they like to teach and how they can help, and discuss their availability, cost, etc. It's also a great opportunity to see if you get on well with them as it's much easier to learn with a tutor that you like or have a good rapport with.