Adapting Your Classroom to be Hybrid on Short Notice

During 2021-2022 faculty teaching in classrooms may need to prepare for last-minute, online-only attendance by some students.  To support delivering your courses to all your students while adapting to shifting circumstances, this guide from Tufts' ETS and AV groups introduces you to readily available equipment, software, and set-ups for hybrid teaching on short notice.

NOTE: This guide is for regular classrooms that do not have a "multi-modality" equipment setup.

There are, however, "multi-modality" classrooms which have been set up for hybrid teaching with built-in speakers, mics, cameras, and software. If you are on the Medford campus you can learn more about those rooms here.

Instructors on Tufts other campuses can learn about multi-modality rooms by contacting your local AV support staff at [email protected].


Take stock of the AV gear currently available in your room

Check to see if the room has:

  • A podium computer
  • A projector and speakers
  • An external webcam

If the room does not have any of these items, you can still use your laptop, and possibly an added phone or tablet, to share your class with students remotely. See "BASIC: Just Laptop" below.

If the room does have one or more of these items, you may be able to use them for hybrid teaching, as described below in the "BUILT-IN GEAR" section.

To make it easy for your students who are remote to join the class session, create a single "recurring" Zoom meeting with "no fixed time" inside Canvas.  You and your students can then access that Zoom link in Canvas, any time class is in session. 

Record Zoom class sessions to the cloud automatically

When setting up the recurring Zoom meeting, you can also activate a setting to automatically record each Zoom class session to the "cloud".

Share Zoom recordings later with students in Canvas

After class you can publish and share a recorded Zoom class session with your students in Canvas.

See: How do I share a Zoom cloud video recording with students?

NOTE: Zoom cloud recordings will, by default, generate an English-language transcript. This transcript will be available to students alongside recordings you share with them.


For non-multi-modality rooms, i.e rooms with no AV equipment, or with basic AV equipment, here are three scenarios which allow you to teach your class with students both in the room and online.

  • BASIC: Just your laptop (with mobile device optional as a 2nd camera)
  • PLUG-IN GEAR: Laptop with plug-in USB speakerphone and/or webcam
  • BUILT-IN GEAR: Podium computer with projector to share visuals, and your laptop to share audio

Give yourself a little extra time before class to get Zoom started and set up the equipment.

HYBRID TEACHING - BASIC: Just Your Laptop (with phone or tablet optional as 2nd camera)

1. Start the Zoom meeting

On your laptop, launch the Zoom desktop app the way you usually would, log in with single-sign-on (SSO), and start your Zoom meeting as usual.

2. Point your laptop's webcam at whatever is most salient

Position your laptop so that students who are remote can see some combination of:

  • you
  • the class
  • the whiteboard

You may have to swivel your laptop to provide a changing view, depending on what you want the remote students to be seeing at any given moment.

Use Zoom's "spotlight" feature to insure that all students are looking at a certain person or shared screen when necessary.

See: Spotlighting participants' video

3. Optional: use a smartphone or tablet for added video

You may want to use a smartphone or tablet (yours or your TAs) to add a second camera view to the Zoom meeting, so you don't have to swivel your laptop.

To do this:

  • Join the class Zoom meeting from your phone or tablet. If you're using your own phone, sign in with a generic Zoom account (not your Tufts account, since you're already using that from your laptop). If you're using a TAs phone, they can sign into the meeting with their Tufts credentials.
  • On the phone, keep the Zoom meeting video set to "on", but make sure there is no audio connection.  (This will prevent audio feedback between your laptop and phone).
  • Position the phone or tablet horizontally, with its camera is pointing at the class. This allows remote students to see their classmates in the room, and frees up your laptop webcam so you can point it at yourself and/or the classroom whiteboard. You can prop the phone or tablet up on a surface, or purchase a small tripod or gooseneck clamp to hold it.

TIP: a smartphone case that includes grippy rubberized elements on its surface is easier to position (it slides around less).


To enhance the flexibility with which you share audio and video from your classroom on Zoom, you can request from Tufts AV services to borrow either or both of these:

  • An external USB speakerphone - this is a combination speaker and microphone with better reach than the speakers and mic on your laptop
  • An external USB webcam - this is a positionable external camera

To make the request from AV services send an email to [email protected]

To use the plug-in equipment, follow these steps:

1. Start the Zoom meeting

On your laptop, launch the Zoom desktop app the way you usually would, log in with single-sign-on (SSO), and start your Zoom meeting as usual.

2. Plug in a speakerphone and/or external webcam

The speakerphone and webcam both have a USB cable attached, so they just need to be plugged into one of the USB ports on your laptop.

The speakerphone works optimally when placed amid the group of people in the room, so the closer you can position it to the center of your in-room group of students, the better.

If you don't have enough USB ports available on your laptop, you may need a USB "splitter" which is similar to a power strip, but for USB cables (see image below). It allows you to plug the splitter into a single USB port on your laptop, and then plug several USB devices into the splitter. This item is not available from Tufts AV services, but can easily be purchased from an electronics store.

3. Choose speakerphone and webcam as an audio and video source in Zoom

Once you've plugged in the external USB speakerphone and/or webcam, Zoom may detect them and automatically switch over the audio and video source as needed. To confirm this, or to switch the source manually, click on the small "up" arrow (caret) next to the microphone icon and the camera icon, in the Zoom menu bar at the bottom of the Zoom window. In the pop-up menus that appear you will see the options to select the external mic or camera.

If you are considering purchasing your own equipment for hybrid teaching with Zoom, Tufts AV Services provides a list of equipment recommendations which can enhance the quality of Zoom meetings and recordings, including in a group setting:

See: Gear Recommendations


If the room you are in has a podium computer and projector, you can use these for improving visual communication between your in-class students and those who are online.

Follow these steps:

1. Start the Zoom meeting

On your laptop, launch the Zoom desktop app the way you usually would, log in with single-sign-on (SSO), and start your Zoom meeting as usual. You will be sharing audio and video from your laptop with your online students.

2. Power up the wall console to turn on the projector

Find the AV console on the wall next to the podium and turn it on. This will automatically turn on the projector. The projection screen may automatically be lowered, or you may have to lower it manually.

3. Mute the room audio on the wall console before you select a video source

Do this by tapping the small icon of a speaker with a slash through it. This is a very important step, to avoid generating audio feedback between your laptop and the room speakers.

4. Use either your laptop or the podium computer as the visual source

  • Use the wall console to choose the source (either "HDMI" for your laptop, or "Podium PC" for the podium computer).
  • If you use your laptop, plug it into the room system using the HDMI cable on the podium
  • If you use the podium computer to share visuals, you will still need your laptop to share audio, either with the laptop speakers, or with a plug-in USB speakerphone, as described above

5. Manage which views you share with both in-class and online students by choosing what to show in Zoom.

  • Share views of your content by sharing your screen.
  • Share views of online students by choosing Gallery View
  • Share views of a presenter or their content by spotlighting the view of that person

See: Spotlighting participants' video

TIP: Slide the Zoom screen divider left-right between shared content and the gallery view of attendees to emphasize either the view of content, or the view of attendees.

For support with hybrid teaching on short notice, email: [email protected]