Creating a Positive Learning Environment in Zoom

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Both you and the students may be new to Zoom and everyone wants it to be a positive learning environment. That means you will have to very clear about how things will be done and what expectations you have around classroom behaviour.

Refer to the college-wide guidelines, Student Expectations for Online Engagement, which is available on the Student Affairs webpage. Remind students in class about the importance of adhering to rules of conduct that will promote a positive learning environment for all.

In particularly, it is important that you advise your students about the following items:



Please let your students know in advance that the session is being recorded and a link being posted for those who are unable to join due to illness, time zone differences, etc. Although it is much more collegial to see everyone’s faces and see students when they contribute, you can’t force students to turn on their cameras. Get more information here about recording a Zoom session .

Inform students as well that although they can privately chat message each other, these private messages are recorded in the chat history, which you have access to.

Muting Audio and Video on Entry

muted speaker

Please set your Zoom meeting up so you can mute all students. Be sure you know how to do this. Consider using this template remote presentation slide to help students transition. If a student is being silly you can mute them or turn off their camera. Don’t kick them out of the meeting. Just make a silent participator. Learn more about mute and video settings for participants.

Use of the Recording


Civil and supportive classroom behaviours are important online. If a student behaves in a way that disrupts the learning environment, warn them in class, email them afterwards documenting the problem, and follow up with your Chair if the behaviour continues. The video recording and the chat record is a record of the class and participant behaviours. Learn more about using usage reports to track attendance and saving the chat history.

Ways to Participate without Disrupting


Tell your students how you would like them to participate in various aspects of the class. Tell them to raise their e-hand, type in the chat box, just start talking, contribute in a breakout room and share a screen of results on return, etc. Guide students as to your expectations for various parts of your delivery. See here for tips on managing participant interactions in Zoom.

Lost Connections

mobile device

Tell students not to panic if they lose connection. Tell them what to do. Should they email you and await the video recording? Respond in eConestoga to a discussion post?

Taking Attendance

attendance list

Tell students how you are taking attendance. Tell them that you can see how long they stayed in the classroom, and how many times they left and came back (see the link in the Use of the Recording item).

Great Student Engagement Tools Built into Zoom

This video shares key engagement tools you can incorporate into your Zoom session.

“Key Features of Zoom for a Remote Synchronous Classroom” by Teaching and Learning Conestoga, in partnership with the Online Learning Center, August 2020.

Nancy Nelson

Nancy Nelson, M.Sc (T), Ph.D. Candidate, FEC, P. Eng joined Conestoga's Teaching and Learning team after teaching in the School of Engineering and Technology for 35 years. She has received multiple national teaching awards and is a real advocate for active learning in the post-secondary classroom. Nancy's focus is primarily on programs in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (STEM), but is available to support teaching and learning at all campuses.

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