How to use Zoom for online classes

Do I need a Zoom account?

You can join zoom meetings without necessarily creating an account but having one allows you to do more. For instance, you can host meetings as well as attend them. 

Once you set up an account, you can go into settings and make any necessary changes. You can choose to get a reminder up to 7 minutes before the call, edit how you receive messages, turn on closed captioning, and much more. 

You can even turn on a feature that smooths out your skin automatically! 

Always make sure you’re muting yourself

The power of mute cannot be stressed enough. Many times students think they are on mute and the class ends up hearing their dad asking if they want eggs or oatmeal for breakfast. 

In many colleges, you are automatically muted when you join the video, but this is not the case for a majority of classes.

 To ensure you always enter a room on mute, go to settings, then audio, and turn on the setting that automatically mutes you when you enter a video. Still, ALWAYS check to see if you are on mute or not when starting a call. Even if you’re not talking, background noise like cars, typing or eating can be disruptive to the class. You should only unmute if you are speaking or directly being spoken to. 

Are your Zoom chats private?

There are many debates on whether your private chats are just that— private. According to Zoom, “private messages between participants are not viewable by the host.” So even though there are rumors that professors can see your messages, that is not the case. 

However, you should be appropriate on zoom for the entire class and know that you can always use iMessage or another chat option to communicate your thoughts. You should also make sure that if you are sending a private message to a friend you don’t accidentally send it to everyone… talk about embarrassing. 

Be aware of your surroundings and actions

Before you get on a Zoom take a look around. What is behind you? Is it something you wouldn’t mind your class seeing? 

I know that the shirtless Timothee Chalamet poster is one of your favorite pieces of wall decor but it may not be appropriate for Organic Biology 101. Additionally, be conscious of what you’re doing. Eating, flossing, using your phone, or any other private activities are all inappropriate for class and should probably be saved for before or after. 


We’re all getting used to online learning at the same time. It’s normal that there will be some stumbles along the way. With these tips, you should be set up for success the next time you join a call.