Learning with Zoom

Jump to: What is Zoom? | 10 tips for students using Zoom | Signing into Zoom | Participating in Breakout Rooms | Additional resources


đź“„ Download the Learning with Zoom Guide
đź“„ Download the Breakout Rooms Guide


đź“„ Download the Managing Zoom Fatigue Guide, produced by TLS and the Student Wellness Hub.



What is Zoom?

Zoom is one of the most popular web conferencing tools in higher education today. It allows instructors to easily convene an online meeting with students, chat with or without video enabled, and deliver presentations while maintaining a good quality connection between all participants.

McGill students automatically have a Licensed account, which includes these and other features:

  • Hosting unlimited meetings with up to 300 participants
  • 24-hour maximum group meetings
  • Local meeting recordings
  • Breakout rooms
  • Screen sharing
  • iOS and Android apps for smartphones and tablets


10 tips for students using Zoom

Whether for classes with instructors or small group meetings with peers, these 10 tips can help create a positive experience for all.

  1. Join on time

    Aim to join your Zoom meetings a few minutes early so that the instructor can start class at the scheduled time.
  2. Mute yourself

    Keep your microphone on mute to limit background noise during the meeting for all participants.
  3. Keep the camera at eye-level

    If you’re joining a meeting with your video enabled, try to position the camera at eye-level (straight-on) with a plain background and avoid backlighting as it makes it difficult to see you on screen. You might also consider using a virtual background to personalize your meeting experience or for privacy reasons. Once your camera is on, don’t forget that other participants can see you until you turn it off or leave the meeting.
  4. Limit distractions

    Limit your own distractions by closing unnecessary browser tabs, silencing your mobile device, and avoiding multi-tasking. Limit distractions to others by avoiding too much camera movement or a busy background.
  5. Add your pronouns

    Consider including your preferred pronouns in your name so that other participants know how to refer to you, e.g., Jane (she/hers). If you’re a teaching assistant, you might want to add (TA) after your name so the instructor and students can readily identify you from the Participants list.
  6. Come prepared

    Prepare for your class by completing ahead of time any homework, reading, assignments, or even reviewing your notes from the previous class.
  7. Be present

    Pay attention and keep focused by taking notes by hand, if possible, and by using the many interactive features available in Zoom, e.g., chat, reactions.
  8. Raise your hand

    Have a question? Use the Raise Hand button to signal to the meeting host (e.g., instructor, TA) that you would like to speak and get added to the speaker’s list. This button is found in the Participants tab.
  9. Communicate respectfully

    Keep communication respectful to ensure a positive learning environment for all and follow the instructor’s guidelines for the use of the chat and other communication features, like the reaction buttons.
  10. Stuff happens!

    Be prepared to deal with the occasional technical issue. Check out some tips from IT Services about how to improve your internet connection, and know that pausing to troubleshoot or address technical matters is totally okay.


Signing into Zoom

Log in to Zoom using McGill’s single sign-on (SSO): your McGill username and password.

Signing into Zoom from the web

  1. From a web browser, go to https://mcgill.zoom.us.
  2. From the Zoom page, click Sign In.
  3. This will open the McGill sign in window. Enter your McGill Username and click Next.
  4. Enter your password.
  5. This will bring you to your Zoom profile page.

Signing into Zoom from the application/client

  1. Click Sign In with SSO. Note: You may have previously used a specific Zoom account that you accessed with a non-McGill email and password; now, you can use your McGill credentials from this button.
  2. Enter your McGill username in Your company email.
  3. Follow the steps using your McGill credentials and click Allow.


Participating in Breakout Rooms

What are Breakout Rooms?

Breakout Rooms allow participants to meet in smaller groups within the main Zoom meeting. McGill instructors may use this feature to assign students into groups for a short period of time so that they can hold a discussion.

To learn about how to create and manage Breakout Rooms in your own meetings, consult the Managing Breakout Rooms resource article from the Zoom Help Center.

How do I join a Breakout Room?

When the host (e.g., instructor, TA) initiates the Breakout Rooms, you’ll get a notification inviting you to join your Breakout Room. Click the Join Breakout Room pop-up notification to enter.

How do I self-select my Breakout Room?

If the host activates the "self-select" feature, you can choose your own breakout room. You do this by clicking the Breakout Rooms option on your meeting controls, which will display a list of rooms created by the host. Click Join next to the Room you would like to join. To move rooms, you can do the same, or click Leave Room to return to the main session. You must have version 5.3.0 or higher to use this feature.

What can I do in a Breakout Room?

While in your Breakout Room and collaborating with your peers on the task the instructor has assigned your group, you’ve got access to the same controls as the main meeting, for example, unmuting yourself, enabling your video, chatting, reaction buttons, etc.

If you have questions or need assistance from your instructor (the meeting host), you can invite the host into your Breakout Room by clicking the Ask for Help button.

If the host has recording enabled and has given you permission to record, then you can record your Breakout Room by clicking the Record button in your meeting controls.

To learn more about participating in breakout rooms, including how to join and participate from your mobile device, consult the Participating in Breakout Rooms resource article from the Zoom Help Center.

How do I leave a Breakout Room?

When the host ends the Breakout Rooms, you’ll get a notification to either return to the main meeting immediately or after 60 seconds. Click Leave Breakout Room to leave the Breakout Room and return to the main meeting.

Links and further resources


There is a lot of information about Zoom online, but here are resources to help you get started:

  1. System requirements for using Zoom
  2. Test your internet connection by joining a test meeting
  3. Joining a Zoom meeting
  4. Optimize your WiFi and router
  5. Good practices for students learning in Zoom
  6. How to record presentations from home using Zoom
  7. Video meeting etiquette tips from Zoom
  8. IT Services' equipment recommendations
  9. Set up strategies for online presenting
  10. Tips for presenting PowerPoints online


McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

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