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Interactive Strategies for Zoom Sessions


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Interactive Zoom Sessions

A lecture-heavy Zoom session can bore and disengage students. To mitigate this, incorporate interactivity into your sessions by using one or more of the strategies below.

The goal of interactivity and active learning is student engagement.

In education, student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education.(Source:

Notice that student engagement is student-focused, not instructor-focused. The instructor should function as a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage, and should inspire engagement in the student by implementing pedagogy that allows students to develop the qualities of engagement. Often this pedagogy requires the instructor to step aside and to let the learners learn and discover on their own. 

Screen Sharing

Share all or part of your screen with students.  You can share something as simple as a slide with a warm-up  question and use the "raise hand" tool or the chat function to get students to answer it.  You can share other things, such as an entire PowerPoint or a live demonstration. The point is for the students to be actively involved with the session instead of just barely listening.

Annotation Features

Check your account settings to see whether the annotation features are enabled. Having these tools enabled will allow you to write over any image and to highlight certain parts of websites, which would make the viewing experience for your students much more interactive. Learn how to use annotation tools.

Breakout Rooms

Create breakout rooms to put your students in pairs or groups to do work together in their own space. Once breakout rooms are enabled, you can manually assign students to specific rooms or have Zoom assign them automatically (note: it helps to have students put their names on their Zoom login). You can even give rooms descriptive names if you want. As a moderator you can go from room to room to check in on the discussions/collaborative work, post announcements to all rooms (for example, "you have 3 minutes left before we reconvene"), or place a time limit on the rooms.  See the video below for a quick intro to breakout rooms.

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts can provide a lot of interactivity, and can be used as warmup activities or as part of a session such as SDV.  As a warmup, provide the students with a short list of items they need to find and show to the group (this can be a physical item or it can be a word written on a piece of paper). For example "something you'd have for breakfast," "something with numbers on it," something you would wear to school," etc. Give students a time limit, and then have them show  their items (or the pieces of paper with the word on them). The scavenger hunt can also be more academic, like having students find things using the library's home page or other resources. The list could have items like: "find the library's phone number," "find a book that has the word chocolate in the title," "using EBSCO, find a recent article about treatments for migraine headaches," etc.

Live Quizzes or Games

  • Use Kahoot! to create games. Kahoot! has a free basic plan for schools
  • Use Quizizz to create live quizzes or polls.
  • You can also use low-tech games such as "two truths and a lie," which can be used as a warmup or as an exercise (two truths and a lie about the MLA citation style, for example).
  • You can prepare short quizzes ahead of time, based on the session content, and then deploy them at intervals during the session.
  • Quizzes can be low tech -- a couple of questions on a slide, for example, or verbal questions.

Surveys and Polls

  • Use Poll Everywhere to run surveys and polls in your class and see instant feedback on the screen.  Use it for warmup questions ("Have you used the citation playbooks?") or for session-related questions.
  • You can also use Zoom Polling. Watch the video below to learn how.
  • For low tech polling, just ask a question or show a question on a slide and have students answer verbally or by using Zoom's tools such as nonverbal feedback.
  • You can prepare the question(s) ahead of time.
    • questions can be based on session content.  Example, for an MLA style workshop, you can ask "How do you format a source's container?"
    • questions can provide feedback about the session. Example: "How many of you are still confused about the MLA style?"
    • Questions can be used as a pre-session survey. Example: "Raise your hand if you have used the MLA style before."

Nonverbal Feedback

Use Zoom's Nonverbal Feedback feature to get in-the-moment reactions from students. Nonverbal Feedback allows students to display icons such as yes or no, thumbs up/down, go slower/faster, or need a break.  Use them for quick surveys ("Does everyone understand this? Click yes or no.") or other interactions.

Follow Zoom's instructions on how to set Nonverbal Feedback.