IT Services

Best practices for students

Best practices for students

IT Services has prepared the following guidelines aimed at UM students to help them with their use of Zoom.

Please note that any Zoom meetings created with a UM Zoom account have a join meeting link address that contains the words ‘universityofmalta’. May we remind you that the use of the University of Malta Zoom education licence is strictly for University use and not for any commercial purpose.

  • To connect to a Zoom lecture or meeting you will need:
    • A laptop with a built-in webcam. Although one can use a smartphone to connect to a Zoom meeting, laptops are better.
    • A headset or earbuds with microphone. The built-in speakers and microphone of laptop may sound fine to you, but these can generate unpleasant echoing for others.
    • An Internet connection.
    • Zoom Client available for free from the UM website.

    One can also connect to a Zoom lecture or meeting from the web browser or an app on the smartphone (Android, iOS). However, the recommended option is to use the Zoom Client installed on a laptop. Some lectures may include activities that cannot adequately be performed on a smartphone or the web browser.

  • Download and install the Zoom client (available for PC and MAC) from the University website. It is recommended that you do this in advance of your first Zoom lecture or meeting as it can take several minutes to complete. The download and installation process is a one-time procedure however, from time to time you should ensure that you are using the latest version of the Zoom Client.  
  • Find a quiet place. Public places (e.g. cafes) may not be suitable places due to distractions or unreliable WiFi signal.
  • If you are at home, locate yourself in a quiet room. Inform your family when you will be following a lecture. Ask them to lower their voices when talking; lower the volume of the radio, TVs etc.
  • Close the door and windows to minimise background noises. You can put up a sign (a sticky note) on the door with the words “Do not disturb! I am following a lecture! Thanks”.
  • You may consider purchasing a noise-cancelling headset to eliminate background noise. However, you should keep in mind that when you unmute yourself, the background noise will be heard by your lecturer and classmates even though you are not hearing any background noise.
  • Find a comfortable place (but not too comfortable) from where you will follow the lecture. If you are following the lecture from home avoid doing so from your bed, for example. It is recommended that you sit on a straight-backed chair at a desk.
  • Find a place with a strong and reliable WiFi signal. If you are on campus use eduroam. If you are at home, it is recommended that you use a wired Internet connection to ensure a high quality connection.
  • The quality of wireless Internet connections degrades when multiple users are accessing video-streaming websites etc. If you will be connecting wirelessly, ask your family to avoid using video-streaming sites when you are following lectures.
  • Position yourself such that there is natural light on your face. Avoid sitting with your back to the window. Too much light behind you will make you appear too dark in the video and other participants will not see you.
  • You are generally required to keep the camera on during the remote lecture. If you are uncomfortable showing your background, use the virtual background feature in Zoom. If you are signed in the Zoom Client with the UM IT Account, you can access a gallery of UM branded virtual backgrounds. Instructions to set a Zoom virtual background  are available.
  • Position the laptop such that the camera is at eye-level. You can stack a bunch of books under your laptop so that the webcam is at eye-level.
  • Prepare yourself as if you are attending a lecture on campus. Dress up appropriately. Prepare a writing pad and pens to take notes during the lecture.
  • Remove distractions:
    • Clear your desk.
    • Set your smartphone to silent.
    • Before you join a Zoom lecture or meeting, close all programs and browser windows on your laptop that are unrelated to the lecture or meeting. This focuses your device's power to provide the best Zoom meeting experience possible and prevents potential embarrassing moments if you happen to share your screen.
  • Be on time preferably a few minutes before the lecture or meeting starts. Let the lecturer know if you are going to be late or absent. Your lecturer may lock the Zoom session after it has begun.
  • You should sign in to the Zoom Client with your UM IT Account before attempting to join a Zoom meeting. If you do not sign in with your UM IT Account, you will end up in the Zoom waiting room. Instructions to sign in your Zoom Client with your UM IT Account   are available.
  • To join a remote lecture, unless instructed otherwise, you will need to access the study-unit area on the VLE and click the Zoom join link. If you have a meeting invite in an email or calendar event, click the Zoom join link. Instructions to join a Zoom lecture from the VLE   are available.
  • Ensure that your microphone is muted when you join the Zoom lecture or meeting.
  • You are expected to treat lectures or meetings as if you are attending a class on campus. You are therefore required to behave professionally, treating classmates and your lecturer with courtesy and respect. Unless you have permission from your tutor, refrain from having lunch during the lecture/meeting. Avoid inappropriate behaviour such as scratching your face, picking your nose, picking your teeth etc.
  • When you are following a Zoom lecture or meeting, you have different video layout options. It is recommended that you switch from seeing all your classmates - the ‘Gallery View’ to viewing your lecturer or whoever is talking - the ‘Speaker View’.

    Following the lecture in the ‘Speaker View’ layout enables you to focus on the lecturer or whoever is asking a question. You can switch between the ‘Gallery View’ and the ‘Speaker View’ by clicking the view options at the top-right corner of your Zoom window.

  • If the speaker is sharing a screen, you can use the ‘Side-by-side Mode’ to see the shared screen alongside the video of the lecturer or whoever is speaking. To enable side-by-side mode in an active meeting select ‘View Options’ (when screen sharing is in progress) and then click ‘Side-by-side Mode’.
  • Keep your microphone muted unless you are talking, to reduce echoes and background noise from interfering with the class. Learn how to turn your audio on and off.
  • Follow the instructions provided by your lecturer regarding student questions:
    • Some lecturers take questions during specified slots during the lecture. Wait for question time and then use the “Raise Hand” feature in Zoom. Once the lecturer calls on you, unmute yourself and begin speaking.
    • Speak to the camera not the laptop screen. When you have finished speaking, indicate that you are done by saying something like “That’s all” or “Thank you” and then mute your microphone again.
    • Some lecturers prefer answering questions posted in the Zoom chat pane. Click the Chat icon in the Zoom meeting control bar. This will open the chat pane. Type your question in the chat pane.
    • You can share links to websites and keep up with the class discussion in the chat pane. You can chat to everyone in the meeting, just your lecturer or one of your classmates.
  • Follow the lecture attentively as if you are in class. Taking notes during the lecture will help you remain focused on what you are seeing and hearing.
  • You should also pay full attention to a lecture even if the lecture is being recorded. Towards the end of the semester, with exams approaching and assignment deadlines, you may not have enough time to view hours and hours of recorded lectures.
  • When a lecture recording is provided, this should be used as a personal aid for study purposes. You are not allowed to share, publish or otherwise make the recording available in whole or in part to any other person including other UM students not following the study-unit. Infringements may be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
  • Avoid opening your browser, your mailbox or social media sites during your lectures.
  • If your Internet connectivity, time zone, or other remote issues make it hard to join a lecture at the scheduled time, talk to your lecturer ahead of time.
  • Be patient and understanding, especially if things do not work as planned. Your lecturers are doing their best to deliver the lecture whilst at the same time ensuring that they are pressing the right buttons on their laptop etc.
  • If you would like to learn more about Zoom, access the user guides prepared by IT Services. If you encounter technical problems contact the IT Service Desk.