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Inclusive Teaching in Zoom

Below are some considerations for inclusive teaching.  You'll be taking into account your students' cognitive load, helping them manage their technologies, and considering their diverse learning abilities.


  • If possible, provide course material prior to class.  Even drafts help students follow your thoughts and orient themselves during class.
  • Set the expectation of the sequence and structure of your lecture and activities Let your students know if you'd like them to physically raise their hands (when using Zoom video), use the Zoom "Raise Hand" feature or post their questions in Chat.
  • Stay flexible regarding non-critical class requirements.  Eg. explain your position that watching your students' expressions helps you adjust your teaching, and invite student to discuss how they might provide feedback if they feel uncomfortable turning their video on.


  • Use a microphone to pick up your voice clearly and eliminate background noise.
  • Use as few concurrent tools as you can.  Managing multiple tools, particularly on small screens, contributes to cognitive overload.  Even within Zoom, the polling feature is not accessible, and so you might have to mix in PollEverywhere.  Weigh against your learning objectives to decide if you need to prepare alternatives such as offline quizzes in case live features don't work.
  • Spend a little extra time in describing what students are expected to see or how to follow along with a demonstration.  For students who can't see the screen or have their eyes on their notes, small motions such as mouse movements may be lost during a live video. Try increasing the size of your mouse pointer, hover longer over a link and verbally describe what you’ll be clicking on.
  • Both Google Slides and PowerPoint generate automatic speech-to-text as live captions.  Since these algorithms take their cues from your slide content and speaker notes, include key information, important numbers and difficult vocabulary.  Multimodal teaching  also help students who have a unstable connections,  hearing impairments or language proficiency challenges.  Note: this is NOT a replacement for academic accommodation. 
  • Repeat the questions posed in Chat before you answer.  In order to focus on you, your students might have turned off Chat and not see the questions.
  • Since large groups have a tendency to talk over each other, use breakout rooms in Zoom for small group discussions.  Be clear about transitions to breakout rooms to help your students orientate.  Once they are in the breakout rooms, you may broadcast instructions to all breakout rooms and check in on each group.  Breakout room participants will  get a one-minute warning before breakout room sessions end and they are automatically placed back in  the main session. Note: Up to 50 breakout rooms can be created with a maximum of 200 total participants across all breakout rooms.
  • Pin the video of someone whom you need to pay attention to (e.g., remote interpreter, teaching assistant).
  • Students who have received captioning accommodations may receive the raw transcripts from Zoom auto-saved captions, or from the remote interpretation vendor, arranged through OAE.


Last modified: 
August 12, 2020