Zoom Student Guide

Zoom logo

Zoom is a video/audio web-conferencing and collaboration tool that lets you, your peers, and your instructor meet in real time online. Through Zoom, you can attend lectures and meetings, present using whiteboards, share screens and resources, interact by voice or text chats, have group discussions, and take polls.

The lecture sessions may be recorded by your instructor and made available after the real-time event.

Access Immediate You can access Zoom from your computer as soon as you install the Zoom application.
Bandwidth Partial High demand on internet connections.
Privacy Yes Verified by UBC’s Privacy Impact Assessment process.

What will I use it for?

Your instructor may use Zoom for many types of real-time interactions:

  • Attend lectures
  • Visit office hours
  • Participate in group work
  • Give presentations
  • Respond to oral exams
  • Take proctored exams

A note about Zoom

Only UBC Zoom accounts should be used for UBC purposes. UBC has conducted a privacy assessment of the UBC version of Zoom to confirm that it does meet the security and legal requirements for a teaching and learning tool. However, this assessment did not include the free version of Zoom. Therefore, you should not be required to create a free Zoom account to participate in any UBC courses.

This restriction on free Zoom accounts should not affect your course participation, since you do not need an account to attend Zoom sessions. If you encounter a situation that highlights a need for a student Zoom account, your instructor will either create a UBC one for you or ask you to sign up for a free Zoom account using an alias. To sign up, you can use any existing email address that does not end in “@student.ubc.ca”.

This tool guide was last reviewed in August 2022 with version 5.11.4 of Zoom.

What do I need to use Zoom?

The Zoom application

You do not need a Zoom account to attend lectures, but you will need to install the Zoom application. You can do this ahead of time or follow the automatic prompts when you join your first Zoom session.

Audio/visual equipment

Web-conferencing uses a microphone and a webcam. We recommend using either an external microphone or headphones with a microphone attached, if you can, to ensure good audio quality.


  • Join sessions through the Zoom application or by clicking the link, rather than dialing in, if you can. Fees may apply when joining a session by calling in on a phone, depending on where you are located, so please check your plan first to avoid incurring long-distance or international charges.

How do I use Zoom?

Click any bar below to find instructions and tips for using Zoom.

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Install the Zoom application

  1. Go to zoom.us/download, and click Download under “Zoom Desktop Client”.
  2. Open the Zoom installer that downloads, and follow the steps to install the application.

Join real-time sessions in Zoom

The most common way to join a session is from your Canvas course. If you must call in, please contact your instructor ahead of time to ensure you have the required dial-in information.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Zoom in the Course Navigation.
    • If you don't see the Zoom option in your Course Navigation, contact your instructor. This option needs to be enabled by your instructor for you to see it.
  2. Click Join next to the session you want to join.
  3. If you haven’t yet downloaded Zoom, follow the prompts to install the application. If you have downloaded Zoom, allow your browser to access it.
  4. To customize your name once you're in the session, try the following:
    • Click the Participants icon in the bottom bar.
    • In the panel that opens, hover over your name, click the 3 dots, and select Rename.
    • Enter the name you'd like displayed, which can include your preferred pronouns if you like, and click Change to save your changes.


  • Your instructor may send you a direct link to the session, and you can use this to join instead.
  • You can also use your mobile device to join a session, either by clicking a link or navigating to the course in the Canvas Student app and joining from there.
  • Close down all background programs before you join the session for a better connection.
  • Join the session a few minutes early to test your connection, microphone, and camera. Or visit zoom.us/test to test your setup ahead of time.
  • If you don’t see the option to rename yourself, your instructor has disabled this feature. You can ask to have it enabled.

Participate during Zoom sessions

What you can do during a lecture depends on your instructor's settings, and many of the options are found at the bottom menu of the Zoom application. The ways you can engage as a participant may include any of the following:

  • Share your microphone audio by clicking the Unmute icon.
  • Share your webcam video by clicking the Start Video icon. Video will typically be disabled by default when you first join a meeting.
  • Send a message to everyone or an individual by clicking the Chat icon.
  • Give basic reactions or send other non-verbal feedback (e.g., raise your hand, answer yes or no, give thumbs-up or applause) by clicking the Reactions icon.
  • Annotate (mark on) a shared whiteboard or screen. When prompted by your instructor, select an annotation option from the toolbar that will appear on your screen. If you don't see this toolbar, click View Options, then select Annotate.

Note that, if your instructor chooses to record a session, you will hear a voice alert you to when the recording has started and stopped. This cue lets you know that your participation is being recorded. However, be assured that instructors may not share your participation outside the course without your consent.


  • If your internet connectivity, time zone, or other remote issues make it hard to attend at the scheduled time, talk to your instructor ahead of time. You can figure out together how to best address these issues.
  • Keep your microphone muted unless you're talking, to reduce echoes and background noise from interfering with the class.
  • If you share your video, make sure there is nothing behind you that will be distracting or revealing for others to see. You can also enable a blurred background (which blurs your background on supported devices) by clicking the up arrow next to the video icon.
  • You may need to turn your video off, if you experience lag time when sharing your video.

Present your work during Zoom sessions

Instructors can temporarily make you the presenter for a session. As a presenter, you can share your screen:

  1. In the active Zoom session, click the Share Screen icon and select what you would like to share. If you do not see this option, you may need to click More first. Examples of content you can share include your entire screen, a specific application, a whiteboard, a video stored on your device, or just your computer audio.
    • If you are sharing a video, make sure to click the Optimize for video clip and Share sound checkboxes. These options will share your screen at a better resolution and enable participants to hear your computer audio.
  2. Click Share.
  3. When you are done, click Stop Share at the top of the screen.


  • When presenting slides, you can use slide control to give other participants control of the slide progression (e.g., if your peers are presenting their portion of the slides during a group presentation).
  • You can pause sharing your screen at any time. Click the "Pause Share" button at the top of the screen.
  • You can annotate (mark on) documents, presentations, or applications that you share. Click the "Annotate" icon in the toolbar at the top of the screen.
  • Send a copy of your presentation to your instructor or a fellow student as a back-up plan, so someone else can share on your behalf if needed.

Participate in Zoom breakout rooms

Instructors can create breakout rooms for you during a session. In these rooms, you can share video, audio, slides, whiteboards, and screens with a smaller group of classmates.

  1. The instructor will invite you to a breakout room. Click Join, if prompted.
  2. Once you have joined, you can access room-specific controls that are similar to what you can do in the main session.
  3. If you need assistance in the breakout room, click Ask for Help to let your instructor know. If you do not see this option, you may need to click More first.
  4. You can leave the breakout room at any time and return to the main session. Click Leave Room, then select Leave Breakout Room.
  5. If your instructor ends the breakout room for you, you will be given the option to return to the main session immediately or after a short countdown.


  • Breakout groups may be used to encourage interaction in many ways beyond group work, such as virtual office hours, private one-on-one meetings, or proctored exams.

Access recorded Zoom sessions

If your instructor records a session that you join from Canvas, it should automatically upload to the Zoom area of your Canvas course.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Zoom from the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the Cloud Recordings tab.
  3. Click the recording you want to play.


  • Your instructor may send a link to the recording instead, in which case you may not be able to see the recording in Canvas.
  • Recordings typically take double the lecture time to be uploaded. Occasionally, they can take longer (up to 24 hours) to process, so check back the next day.
  • If you don’t see the session's recording in Canvas and expect to, contact your instructor. There may be an issue or another way to access the recording.

Take exams during a Zoom session

Exams are typically monitored (also known as proctored or invigilated) online with a breakout room, and the experience is similar to attending an in-person monitored exam. You will be in a “room” with other students, and an invigilator (e.g., instructor or teaching assistant) will be available to answer questions and make sure everyone is playing fair.

  1. Your instructor will provide information on how to join the invigilation session. Follow these instructions carefully.
  2. Join the session using your first and last name that is on file with UBC, if you are comfortable doing so with Zoom. Joining with this information helps your invigilator more easily check exam attendance.
    • If you are not comfortable using your real name, use only your first name or nickname when you join the session. Send the alternate name you will use with your instructor in advance.
  3. At the start of the exam, you may be asked to show your student ID card to verify your identity. To protect your privacy, cover the first four digits of your student number when you show it.
    • If you are uncomfortable doing this in a shared session with other students, ask the invigilator to create a separate breakout room where you can show your ID one-on-one.
  4. You will need to keep your camera on throughout the exam, but please keep your audio turned off unless the instructor explicitly requests you turn it on.


  • You may be asked to share your screen during an exam. You can follow the steps for presenting your work.
  • You can rejoin the session by clicking the link again, if you are bumped out of the exam at any point (which may happen if you lose your internet connection). You might rejoin the session in a virtual waiting room. From there, your instructor will be able to re-admit you.

Zoom FAQ

Find UBC-specific answers to frequently asked questions by clicking any bar below.

You do not need an account to attend Zoom sessions. You can click the links your instructors send or post in Canvas to join lectures, office hours, or other meetings. However, if you want to schedule your own sessions through Zoom, you will need an account.

In either case, you will need to install the Zoom application.

You should not need a free Zoom account to participate in most UBC courses. However, if you encounter a situation that highlights a need for student Zoom account, your instructor will either create a UBC one for you or ask you to sign up for a free Zoom account using an alias. To sign up, you can use any existing email address that does not end in "@student.ubc.ca".

As of July 5, 2020, UBC's institutional Zoom account transitioned from U.S.-based hosting to Canadian-based hosting. This change means that no data about you is stored on servers outside of Canada for Zoom lectures or other academic sessions, so long as a) your instructor uses a UBC Zoom account to schedule the session and b) you do not attend the session while logged in to a free Zoom account.

If you have privacy concerns about Zoom:

  • Attend Zoom sessions without creating or using a Zoom account.
  • Join sessions only by clicking the Zoom links your instructors send or post in Canvas.
  • Provide only your first name or a nickname when you join a session.
  • Keep your camera off and microphone muted, as much as you can.
  • Try to avoid sharing any identifying information for yourself or others (e.g., real names).

To further protect your privacy during exams, you can do the following:

  • Use a first name or nickname when you join the session, as long as you register the name you will use with your instructor in advance.
  • If asked to show your student ID card to verify your identity, cover the first four digits of your student number when you show your ID on camera.
  • If you are uncomfortable showing your ID in a shared session with other students, ask the invigilator to create a separate breakout room where you can show your ID one-on-one.

Talk to your instructor, if you still have concerns.

Where can I get more support with Zoom?

Technical support

If you have trouble accessing Zoom:

Online learning support

Learn more

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