Educational Technology User GuidesZoom Start Teaching with ZoomWhat should I know about Zoom's limitations?

What should I know about Zoom's limitations?

Zoom is a reliable and widely-used videoconferencing platform. Its main use is centered around live meetings, not necessarily around setting up class activities.

If you rely on Zoom for the videoconferencing and live communication, and on Canvas for coordinating the activities of your class, you can get the platforms to complement each other well.

Here are some things to keep in mind —

  • Assessment
    While Zoom has a polling tool, it does not have a testing or exam tool. If you want to give your students a graded assessment, you will need to use another tool such as Canvas. And for more full-featured polling consider Poll Everywhere.
  • Breakout rooms
    Zoom offers breakout rooms (see above for instructions on how to enable them) and you can either create them and assign students to them live during class, or you can pre-assign participants to breakout rooms before class begins. Unfortunately, there is no way to pre-populate your breakout rooms with content or instructions before class begins. In addition, when your class meeting ends the breakout rooms that you create in Zoom disappear and will not appear in your next class meeting.
  • File sharing
    While you can share files using the chat box, Zoom meetings are not really meant to be file repositories. If you want to create a file repository for your course, use Canvas or Box.
  • Polling
    If a poll contains multiple questions, your students must answer all of the questions and then click submit before Zoom will record any of the students’ answers. In addition, only single choice or multiple-choice questions are allowed. For more advanced polling features, use Qualtrics or Poll Everywhere.
  • Whiteboard
    Zoom’s whiteboard (see Sharing a Whiteboard) is an effective tool for summarizing key points during discussions, but the button students click to download a screenshot of the whiteboard is hidden. While the whiteboard is on the screen, the students have to click the View Options pull-down list at the top of the whiteboard and then click Annotate. Only then will they see a Save button. As an alternative way of saving a whiteboard sketch, students can use the screenshot feature on their laptop or mobile device.
  • The Zoom whiteboard is only available DURING sharing. Opening and closing the whiteboard in Zoom during the meeting does bring you to the same whiteboard so that you can add new annotations, but you cannot continue to draw outside of the share screen. It can be saved locally to a Zoom folder on your computer, but changes made to these files outside of the share session are NOT displayed in the meeting when the instructor resumes sharing the whiteboard.
  • If you wish to use the whiteboard with prepared content, you can do this by starting the meeting early, and setting up the whiteboard before your participants join. Be sure to have enabled annotation in your basic meeting settings ahead of time as well, so that the participants can draw.
  • Another option would be to set up your content ahead of time in whatever annotation software you are most comfortable with, and then open and share that software during the meeting (instead of the Zoom whiteboard). Depending on the software and how you are sharing it, students may be able to annotate (they cannot annotate if you are casting from a device). Note that they are not annotating directly into your software, only on their VIEW of your software. This means that you can save your own work, but in order to preserve the student annotations for after the meeting, you will need to take a screenshot before the meeting ends.