Web Conferencing Tools

student on computer
Web conferencing technologies are used for online meetings. Real-time (synchronous) meetings with your class online can be a great way to engage students. Online office hours or one-on-one meetings can provide students needed support. Students are more likely to succeed in online courses where they have opportunities to build relationships with their instructor and classmates. It is important to know your students before requiring participation in online sessions; some students may not have the hardware or adequate bandwidth. 


Best Practices

  • Focus on interaction, not lecturing – research shows that students need to do something at least every 10 minutes
  • Use pre-work or video lectures to prep students
  • Use small group activities breakout rooms are a great way to encourage student interaction
  • Create ground rules on how to use chat in your virtual classroom
  • Give students time to think/write before responding 
  • Record sessions so students can watch after


As UAA’s primary web-conferencing platform, Zoom provides a robust set of tools to communicate your content, engage students, build community, and provide resources for practice and review.

It is important to update Zoom regularly (Zoom update instructions) to be able to use it most effectively and securely. We recommend that everyone turn on automatic updates. As only critical updates trigger the automatic process, faculty should check for updates monthly and remind their students to update every semester.

  • Getting Started

    Getting Started in Zoom

    The first step is to sign in to alaska.zoom.us with your UA credentials to claim and configure your Pro Zoom account.

    • Profile: Add a profile picture (video) and allow integration with Google Calendar (if you want to create Zoom sessions directly from your calendar)
    • Settings: Scroll down and carefully read through all the meeting and recording settings. Turn on the features you want to use such as polling, nonverbal feedback, breakout rooms, etc. Be aware that these settings change as Zoom is updated.

  • Zoom Meetings

    How to Schedule Zoom Meetings

    There are multiple ways to schedule Zoom meetings at UAA. First, be sure you have claimed and configured your Pro Zoom account as described above.

    1. Blackboard – Tools, Zoom Meeting, Schedule a New Meeting (Recommended if using Zoom for a Blackboard course.)
    2. alaska.zoom.us – log in and choose Meetings, Schedule a New Meeting
    3. Google Calendar (if you have set up "Calendar and Contact Integration" in your Zoom profile) –Create event, and Add video conferencing or Make it a Zoom Meeting

    How to Join Zoom Meetings

    (Numbers correspond to the scheduling method above.)

    1. You and your students will join from the link that you set up in Blackboard Learn (see below).
    2. If you scheduled a meeting at alaska.zoom.us, you should join from there so you will be the host.
    3. If you are a guest in a meeting, you can join from a link that has been provided via email or calendar invite.
    4. If you have the Zoom app installed on your phone or other mobile device, you can join using a Zoom Meeting ID which is the last part of the link (e.g., for https://alaska.zoom.us/j/363932298, the Meeting ID is 363-932-298).

    How to Run a Zoom Meeting

    Note: Zoom now has a live transcription service that creates automated captions. In your Zoom Settings, check the box for "Enable live transcription service to show transcript on the side panel in-meeting." During a meeting, click Live Transcript and then choose Enable auto-transcription.

    Resources for planning and conducting a class session in Zoom:

    Learn more about using different features in Zoom:

  •  Zoom in Blackboard

    How to Create a Zoom Session in Blackboard

    In your Blackboard Learn course, click the student Tools menu and choose Zoom Meetings. Click Schedule a New Meeting and fill in the course name for the “Topic.” You have several options to consider:

    • Check the box to make it a recurring meeting and choose recurrence “No Fixed Time.” This creates a permanently available session for your course. (Recommended if using Zoom for a Blackboard course.)
    • Choose a specific day and time for your meeting.
    • Check the box to make it a recurring meeting and choose your desired recurrence (e.g. Weekly).

    Please note new security measures: All newly created meetings will include passcode details in the scheduling process and provide the URL with passcode embedded.

    If you choose to record the meeting automatically to the cloud, Zoom recordings will automatically post in this area of your Blackboard course. If you are in a Zoom meeting which is being recorded, you can create a breakout room to meet with an individual student so that your private conversation is not part of the recording.

    How to Add Zoom to Your Blackboard Course Menu

    In Blackboard:

    1. Be sure Edit Mode is ON (top right corner)
    2. Click the + on the top left of the Course Menu
    3. Click Tool Link
    4. Name as desired (e.g. Join Online in Zoom)
    5. For Type, choose Zoom Meetings
    6. Be sure to check Available to Users and click Submit

    When it is time for a class meeting, click the link and then Start this Meeting.

    How to Use Zoom for Office Hours

    • When creating a session for office hours, use "Enable waiting room" for privacy. It will notify you when a student is waiting to enter.
    • Recording office hours is not recommended. Do not discuss a student's record with any other students present.
    • You can host office hours in Zoom for all your students/courses at once if you include a note in all of your syllabi so students are informed in advance. Invite any students with concerns about the format to reach out to you directly to make other arrangements.

  •  Zoom Recordings

    How to Record Zoom Meetings

    Zoom is designed as a live web-conferencing tool for real-time meetings and collaboration (synchronous meetings). To record videos that aren’t meetings, such as tutorials, consider using other UAA video tools (see our Creating Videos). Video creation tools will have better video quality and editing options.

    Your live Zoom meetings can be recorded, edited, and shared with students in Blackboard. For a quick overview, watch Recording to the Cloud (video, 3:34). To set up cloud recording, log into alaska.zoom.us. Click on Settings, then click the Recording tab on the top menu within Settings.  Toggle on the Cloud recording option and check Create audio transcript (under Advanced cloud recording settings).

    When creating a Zoom meeting, you can set it to automatically record. You can also record, pause, or stop the recording during a meeting. 

    How to Manage and Share Zoom Recordings

    After the meeting, you will receive an email when the recording is available.  Log in to alaska.zoom.us to:

    Zoom recordings are scheduled for deletion after 730 days (2 years), but we recommend reviewing your recordings every semester to delete unneeded ones. For future use, save your Zoom recordings to a more permanent video platform (see our Creating Videos).


  •  Zoom Security & Connectivity


    For best performance and security, download the latest Zoom version. UA provides authentication of faculty, staff and student Zoom accounts.  Please contact the UAA IT Technical Support Center with questions or to report security concerns. 

    Zoom requires all meetings to have either a passcode or waiting room enabled. Your default settings include a passcode. Do not post the meeting link publicly unless you turn on the waiting room in the meeting settings. This will help prevent the security risks below. Learn more: Getting started with Zoom security and privacy.

    Meeting hosts see a Security button on the toolbar which makes it easy to change settings with one click. You can use this to lock the meeting, block participants, or prevent screen-sharing.

    Potential Zoom Security Risks

    • Zoom bombing: Zoom bombing is when someone uninvited joins the meeting often with malicious intent. The result is harassment, frequently by sharing harmful audio and visual content such as hate speech, pornography, and/or violence.  
    • Hacking: Hacking occurs when someone utilizes a Zoom meeting to gain unauthorized access to your computer with malicious intent, such as obtaining personal information like photos, personal identity information, account information, etc.

    Learn more: UA Zoom Security


    Internet connectivity and bandwidth continue to be challenging for some faculty, staff, and students.  Below are some recommendations for improving your experience in Zoom.

    Zoom System Requirements:

    • An internet connection - broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
    • Speakers and a microphone - built-in or USB plug-in or wireless Bluetooth
    • A webcam or HD webcam - built-in or USB plug-in

    Internet Connectivity for Zoom:

    • Use a wired connection if possible with direct connection to your router
    • Restart your router
    • UA Virtual Campus Internet Options

    Improving Bandwidth for Zoom

    Some students may have lower bandwidth in their home and/or work settings, which can make participating in Zoom sessions difficult. Here are some things you and your students can do to reduce the demand on bandwidth and improve Zoom performance:  

    • Turn off HD video in Video Settings
    • Turn your camera off when you don’t need it
    • When you do screen share, only share as long as necessary
    • Use online collaborative documents rather than screen sharing
    • Mute your audio when not speaking
    • Use the cloud recording option for Zoom meetings
    • Turn off incoming video if necessary

    Learn more about using Zoom with limited bandwidth:

  •  Zoom Help

    Zoom Help Resources

    Please see the sections above for topic-specific resources.


Other Web Conferencing Tools

At UAA, the primary web conferencing teaching tool is Zoom. Zoom is a popular tool for online meetings of all kinds. As part of our Google and Microsoft productivity tools, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams provide additional options. The web conferencing sheet on AI&e's Tools Comparison chart can help you decide which tool best fits your needs.

  • Google Meet

    Google Meet

    You can start a Google Meet (formerly Handouts) web meeting in a variety of ways, such as straight from Meet or from a Google Calendar event (click Add Conferencing). Consider posting a link to upcoming Meet sessions in an announcement in Blackboard for students. Google Meet has a live captioning option.

  • MS Teams

    Microsoft Teams

    You can use Teams to chat with your team via text, voice, or video. Attendees can share their screen and text chat within the meeting. Team meetings have a live captioning option. 


    Note: "Microsoft Teams expands on the capabilities in Skype for Business Online by bringing together files, chats, and apps in an integrated app, with functionality that enables organizations to move faster and collaborate more efficiently. Because of the richer set of experiences offered in Teams, it replaces Skype for Business as the core communications client for Office 365." Microsoft


Faculty Development & Instructional Support 
Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence, Academic Innovations & eLearning, and Center for Community Engagement and Learning 
Library 213 • 907-786-4496  uaa_cafe@alaska.edu  Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.