Teaching Commons > Teaching Guides > Flex Teaching

Flex/Zoom Room Teaching Essentials

​At DePaul, Flex teaching refers to teaching in Zoom-enabled classrooms that allow for on-campus and remote students to participate in class activities. There are four Flex course modalities that differ according to requirements for on-campus and remote student attendance and participation.

Here are five suggestions for designing and teaching courses in Zoom Rooms and Flex modalities:

Get acquainted with classroom technology

Gather the information you will need to start a Zoom session, like your Zoom meeting ID, passcode, and host key. It is recommended to attend a classroom training session prior to the start of the term and visit your classroom to practice joining the meeting and using the tools you plan to use during your class sessions, like screen sharing, breakout rooms, and the whiteboard. You may also need to bring a laptop for additional features.

  1. Review Flex classroom features

    Find out your room number and familiarize yourself with the Trimodal room layout to ensure that you are visible and audible over Zoom. Trimodal rooms are equipped with multiple cameras, a microphone, and TV monitors to display content.

  2. Become familiar with using Zoom+ and Trimodal Rooms

    Review the technology guides on the Teaching Commons for steps on how to use the technology in your classroom. See the section on using the Zoom client in a Zoom Room for information on when and how to use a laptop within a Zoom session in a Flex class.

  3. Share content during class

    Use the podium PC, an external device, or the document camera to share content during a Zoom session. Zoom sessions can also be set to allow other participants to share content.

  4. Record class sessions

    Record your class sessions so that you can share with students later. Note: If you are teaching in a Flex modality, your class session will automatically be recorded and uploaded to a hidden folder in your D2L course.

Set expectations for equitable class participation

Create a syllabus that introduces students to the format of the course and sets guidelines for participation. You can help orient students to your Flex course by providing details on what you expect from them and being explicit about your expectations can help minimize confusion.

Engage remote students and build community

Engaging with students participating remotely can be more challenging than checking in with in-person students. These strategies will help you organize your classes and build opportunities for all students to interact, share knowledge, and build community and accountability.

  1. Incorporate icebreakers
  2. During the first week of class, provide all students the opportunity to introduce themselves and interact asynchronously. Send emails to acknowledge early participation in icebreaker and community-building exercises and check in with students who haven’t yet participated. Throughout the quarter, build in icebreakers to start class sessions and build community.

  3. Assign peer buddies and peer working groups

    Grouping students into peer buddies or peer working groups will give students additional opportunities to interact and learn. In smaller groups, students may be more comfortable participating.

  4. Consider backchannel communication options

    Backchannel communication tools can give students additional opportunities to share knowledge and ask questions. Backchannel communication can be an especially good option for remote students to easily participate during class sessions.

  5. Encourage anonymous feedback

    Collect feedback from students that can be used to improve your class sessions and identify what is already working well.

Use active learning techniques to engage students

Identify learning activities that are best suited for synchronous sessions, such as polling, in-class writing, and small group work. Consider how some activities, like lecturing or problem solving, may be recorded and shared with students asynchronously. Use a course blueprint to aid your planning.

  1. Facilitate discussions using a range of strategies

    Facilitate discussions using a range of strategies, such as setting clear expectations, using sufficient wait time, asking open-ended and redirective questions as appropriate, and breaking into small groups.

  2. Use polling to engage your students

    Polling can be used to kick off a class discussion by asking students to respond to a thought-provoking question, to check understanding of difficult concepts, or to turn part of your session into a fun quiz competition. Compare Zoom polls with Poll Everywhere to decide which tool to use.

  3. Ask your students to share their screens

    Ask for student volunteers to share their screens showing works-in-progress, or a particular problem they’re encountering, or in-class presentations that you’ve asked them to prepare for.  

  4. Invite guest speakers to your class

    Inviting guest speakers can be an excellent way to integrate other professional voices, backgrounds, and opinions into your classes.

Build and organize asynchronous content in your D2L course

Provide readings, pre-recorded lectures, quizzes, and other asynchronous content as appropriate. Students can use these to prepare for your live class sessions and apply their learning after class.

  1. Create a weekly module structure
    Use a consistent module structure to allow for easy access to class materials. Maintain your D2L course site to ensure that all students can find materials when they need them.  
  2. Share your class recordings
    Students can use class recordings to catch up if they miss a session. They can also use class recordings to prepare for projects and exams, or to review key concepts through repeated explanation. Add a link to the Zoom tool to share all cloud recordings, or add links to specific recordings.
  3. Create accessible content

    To ensure that course content is equitable for all students, follow the guidelines for accessible user design. Caption video content and/or provide a transcript of audio and video resources. This also allows students to benefit from video content even if their internet connectivity is limited or environmental distractions make videos difficult to hear.

How-To Guides

View documentation for using Zoom+ and Trimodal Rooms, including how to:

  • Schedule and start Zoom meetings in Zoom+ and Trimodal Rooms
  • Use the room controller to change views, share screens, and draw on the whiteboard
  • Use Zoom+/Trimodal Room tools such Zoom polling that require a laptop

The following Zoom guides will help remote students to customize their viewing and listening experience in Zoom. 

Change to Gallery or Speaker View

There are 3 video layouts when no one in the meeting is screen sharing: Speaker view, Gallery view, and floating thumbnail window.

Use Side-by-Side Mode 

When someone is screen sharing, participants can use Side-by-side mode or view the screen share with Speaker view. 

Customize Video Order 

Participants can customize the order of displayed videos

Pin Participants' Videos 

When you pin a video in Zoom, it ensures that you always see that video during the meeting. Students may find it helpful to pin participant videos in order to ensure they can always see the classroom/instructor. Students may also want to pin videos when certain students are speaking or if there is a teaching assistant or Online Learning Assistant (OLA) helping to facilitate discussion. Students can pin up to 9 videos at one time. 

Flex Demonstrations

This recording offers an overview of teaching in a Flex modality where on-campus students learn together with students joining your classroom remotely in Zoom.

Watch recording

In his teaching demo, Alan Ackmann (Writing, Rhetoric, & Discourse) offers a brief teaching demonstration in a Trimodal classroom. He also answers a number of instructors’ questions about teaching in this context.

Watch recording

In his teaching demo, Zafar Iqbal (Marketing) offers a brief teaching demonstration in a Trimodal classroom, with six practical tips based on his experience. Zafar also answers a number of instructors' questions.

Watch recording

Additional Resources

Classroom Technology Services

DePaul offers classroom support for faculty experiencing problems with their technology during class. Phones are located near the podiums with the Classroom Technology Hotline number available, 312-362-5900. Don't hesitate to call if you need assistance with the technology while your class is in session.

Online Learning Assistants (OLAs)

Online Learning Assistants (OLAs) support Zoom sections of classes that are combined with on-campus sections. Instructors teaching in Trimodal/Zoom+ rooms are eligible to request OLAs to help with common Zoom tasks and improve the overall learning experience for remote students during class meetings.

Learn more about OLAs and how to request them for your course.

The Help Desk

The Help Desk is the best point of contact if you have an issue with DePaul-owned hardware or software, including D2L. The Help Desk can be a great resource if you encounter any issues setting up your D2L course. If someone at the Help Desk can’t answer your request, they’ll make sure to bring in the right person to help.

Help Desk Contact Info

Phone: (312) 362-8765
Email: helpdesk@depaul.edu 
Website: help.depaul.edu

Instructional Designers

Instructional designers in the Center for Teaching and Learning have extensive instructional-technology expertise and their primary role is that of a coach and consultant. They can help you plan and think through instructional design decisions like the ones listed below: