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 chat or Q&A, have small 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 discussions
  • Give presentations
  • Respond to oral exams
  • Take invigilated 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 meets 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. In signing up, you can use an alias instead of your real email / name.

This tool guide was last reviewed in August 2023 with version 5.15.7 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.


  • It is highly recommended that you join sessions through the Zoom application or by clicking the link, rather than dialing in. Fees may apply when joining a session by calling in on a phone, depending on your phone plan and where you are located.

How do I use Zoom?

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

Expand All

Install the Zoom application

  1. Go to ubc.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.

  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 for the session you want to join.
  3. If you have not 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, do the following:
    • Click the Participants icon in the bottom toolbar.
    • In the panel that opens, hover over your name, click More, and select Rename.
    • Enter the name you would like displayed, and click Rename to save your changes.


  • Your instructor may send you a direct link to the session instead. You can use this link to join the session.
  • You can also use your mobile device to join a session. Join from your device either by clicking the direct link or navigating to the course in the Canvas Student app and clicking the link from there.
  • Close down any applications that you don't need before you join the session. Having fewer apps open can give you a better connection during the session.
  • Join the session a few minutes early to test your connection, microphone, and camera. Or visit zoom.us/test to test your setup before joining the session
  • 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. Many of the options are found at the bottom toolbar 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.
  • Send a message to everyone or to an individual participant by clicking the Chat icon.
  • If your instructor has enabled it, ask questions by clicking the Q&A icon.
  • Give basic reactions or send other non-verbal feedback (e.g., raise your hand, request to slow down, give thumbs-up or applause) by clicking the Reactions icon.
  • See captions by clicking the Show Captions icon, selecting the speaking language, and clicking Save.
  • Annotate a shared whiteboard or screen. When prompted by your instructor, select an annotation option from the new toolbar that will appear on your screen.

Note that, if your instructor chooses to record a session, you will hear a voice notifying you 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 with anyone outside of the course without your consent.


  • If you're facing difficulties attending the scheduled session due to internet connectivity or other remote issues, please talk to your instructor beforehand. Together, you can find the best way to address these concerns.
  • Keep your microphone muted unless you're talking. Muting reduces echoes and background noise in your space 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 in Zoom (which blurs your background on supported devices) or use a Zoom virtual background by clicking the up arrow next to the video icon.
  • If you experience technical delays or glitches, you can try turning off your video. Video uses a lot of bandwidth, and sometimes turning it off can improve your connection.

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, you can choose to share your entire screen, a specific application, a whiteboard, a video from your device, or just your computer audio by clicking the Share Screen icon. If you do not see this option, you may need to click More first.
    • If you are sharing a video, make sure to click the Optimize for video clip and Share sound checkboxes at the bottom of the screen-sharing pop-up. These options will share your screen at a better resolution and enable participants to hear your computer audio.
  2. Click Share.
  3. Pause sharing at any time by clicking Pause Share at the top of the screen.
  4. When you are done, click Stop Share at the top of the screen.


  • When presenting slides, you can use Zoom slide control to give other participants control of the slide progression. This option can be helpful during a group presentation when your peers are presenting their portion of the slides.
  • You can annotate 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 ahead of time. Sending this creates a back-up plan, so someone else can share on your behalf, if you have technical difficulties.

Participate in Zoom breakout rooms

Instructors may 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 similar to what you can access in the main session.
  3. If you need assistance in the breakout room, click Ask for Help in the toolbar or use the chat 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 rooms may be used by instructors to support interactions beyond group discussions. For example, they may also use rooms for virtual office hours, private one-on-one meetings, or invigilated exams.

Access recorded Zoom sessions

If your instructor records a session that you join from Canvas, the recording should automatically upload to the Zoom area of your Canvas course. Recordings typically take a day or two to be uploaded, and the instructor must make the recording public before you can access it.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Zoom from the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the Cloud Recordings tab.
  3. Click the recording name you want to play.
    • If you don’t see the recording you expect to, contact your instructor. The instructor may still need to make the recording public in order for you to see it, or there may be another way to access the recording.
  4. Click to play the recording.


  • Your instructor may send a link to the recording instead. In this case, you may not be able to see the recording in Canvas.
  • Recordings are considered confidential. If your instructor allows downloading course recordings, please do not share them with anyone outside the current term of the course.

Take exams during a Zoom session

Exams are typically monitored or invigilated online with a breakout room. This experience is similar to attending an in-person 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 instructions on how to join the invigilation session. Follow the provided instructions carefully.
  2. Join the session using the first and last name that is on file for you with UBC, if you are comfortable doing so. Joining with this information helps your invigilator more easily check exam attendance.
    • If you are not comfortable using your real name on Zoom, use only your first name or a nickname when you join the session. Inform your instructor of the alternate name you will use.
  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 not comfortable doing this in a shared session with other students, ask the invigilator to create a 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 microphone turned off unless the instructor explicitly requests otherwise.


  • You may be asked to share your screen during an exam. If you need help with this, you can follow the steps for presenting your work in the accordion section above.
  • If you are bumped out of the exam at any point, you can rejoin by clicking the session link again. You might rejoin the session in a virtual waiting room. From there, your instructor will be able to re-admit you to the exam.

Zoom FAQ

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

Yes. You do not need an account to attend Zoom sessions. To join lectures, office hours, or other meetings, you can click the session links that your instructors send or share in Canvas. 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 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. In signing up, you can use an alias instead of your real email / name.

Unless an instructor has created a UBC Zoom account for you, you will be constrained by the 40-minute limit on free Zoom accounts. There is unfortunately no option for students to request UBC Zoom accounts themselves.

If needed, you could use Microsoft Teams to host meetings instead. Microsoft Teams is an all-in-one collaboration tool that includes a web-conferencing feature, with meetings allowed to last a whole day. Everyone at UBC has access to Microsoft Teams.

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, you may want to consider doing the following:

  • Attend Zoom sessions without creating or using a free 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.
  • If you are uncomfortable showing your ID in a shared session with other students, ask the invigilator to create a breakout room where you can show your ID one-on-one.

Talk to your instructor, if you still have concerns.

No, data from UBC Zoom accounts is not—and will not be—used for training Zoom or other third-party AI models without your consent.

In March 2023, Zoom did introduce changes to their terms of service to allow some customer content to be used for AI-training purposes. However, these changes do not apply to institutions like UBC that have an enterprise educational license.

Furthermore, Zoom has assured users that data from organizations will not be used for AI training without explicit customer consent and a means to opt-out. This data includes audio, video, chat, screen-sharing, attachments, and other communications content (e.g., reactions, whiteboards, polls).

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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