Interactive Features in Zoom

What it Does


Creates a backchannel for comments, questions, or private messaging.

Allows for discussions around lecture and private exchanges among assigned groups; creates a place for general queries or Q&A. Its content can be saved with a recorded lecture. Chat is downloadable at the end of your session. 

Share Files in Chat

Share files using the chat feature.

Students can be given a scenario or short reading to discuss. Students can share their own writing and pair to discuss, can be paired with breakout rooms.

Breakout Rooms

Large groups can be broken into smaller groups (sessions) that are later reconvened. Participants can be manually or randomly assigned. Up to 50 breakout rooms can be created. The instructor can switch between the different sessions. 

Allows for pair and share, small group discussion, and flash assignments. It can be used in combination with other activities listed here to engage students in short sprints of the activity or to facilitate longer periods of small group discussions in the context of larger lectures.

Share Screen

All participants can share screens (rather than favoring the instructor’s screen). 

Access annotation tools (text box, free form draw/pen, shapes, and highlighter) by selecting the Annotate option when you're sharing your screen.

Allows each student or small group to make a presentation; collaborative workgroups can share screens. 

Use annotation tools to guide students or explain a concept.

Share Whiteboard

All participants can type or draw on a shared whiteboard and then react to each other’s work (star, checkmark, heart, X, ?).

Students can write ideas in an area of the board and the whole group can then review and “vote” on the individual ideas. Whiteboards can be saved to your computer as image files.


Poll decks can be launched in a session. Multiple-choice, T/F, Y/N questions only; named or anonymous.

Allows you to gauge comprehension, break the ice, get opinions (interface shows % results as answers come in ), very much like clickers. Polls and results saved in instructor account (i.e polls can be reused).

Non-verbal Feedback

Symbols allow listeners to show a changeable state of agreement, answer a yes/no question, or raise hand-- they can also applaud or indicate that they need a coffee break. Enable it in Settings.

Allows for debate-club exercises where students read short position papers, quick consensus checks. Feedback options take little time away from the presentation. Also used to request a turn to speak in precept or ask a question in lecture. These last two can make the discussion more equitable.

Remote Support

The instructor/tutor can take control of the participant’s computer; both see what the instructor is doing on the student machine; the structure is hierarchical. 

This feature can be used in a 1:1 between and instructor and student or tutor and student to demonstrate concepts hard to do in a conversation.