Quick Start Guide for Faculty

Helpful Links:

FAQ's and Tips: (These will be updated regularly)

  • Please note that there is currently a limit of 300 participants for Zoom meetings or conferences. Please contact HUIT at 617-495-7777 or ithelp@harvard.edu to increase the limit to 500-1000 participants.
  • If you're using a Harvard provided device, there's a good chance Zoom is installed on your computer already. If not, please install it using this link. You will want to click the download button under Zoom Client for Meetings. For further details see this article.
  • Students should make sure that Zoom is installed prior to the class to ensure that they can connect and interact properly and on time.
  • For an individual to unmute and talk, they only need to press and hold the spacebar.
  • It is a good idea to mute all participants and allow them to unmute themselves when and if they need to speak.



Pre-record your lecture:

If you are unable to attend a particular class meeting, remember that you can always use Zoom’s built-in recording tool to pre-record your lecture. Just launch a Zoom meeting with yourself as the only participant, click record, and give your lecture. 

This is also an excellent way for you to ‘flip’ your class – pre-record the knowledge you want your students to learn, and then ask your students to watch the recording before class. You can then use class time to focus on other issues.

Your recordings are saved here. Click the "Share button" next to a recording to see the options for sharing that recording. For example, enabling or disabling the option for students to download a copy of your recording – and to see the link that you can share with your students so that they can stream your recording (Tip: look for "Meeting Recording" in the Recording Link Information box.)

You also have the option of downloading a copy of your recording to your computer. However, we do not recommend doing this unless you have access to a streaming media platform like your school’s media server or a streaming site like YouTube or Vimeo. Zoom recording files can be quite large.


Zoom is arguably one of the best web conferencing platforms available. But it was designed more for live, one-off meetings than for recurring classes or lectures. Some of the things that you might want to do in a teaching platform like Adobe Connect, Blackboard, or Canvas, you won't be able to do in Zoom. For example,

  • Student notetaking. Unless your students have large screens or external monitors, taking notes during a Zoom meeting requires that they frequently switch back and forth between Zoom and whatever program they use to take notes. There is no other workaround other than the students connecting to the Zoom meeting on a device separate from the one the students will be using to take notes.

  • Pre-loading content. In a traditional learning management system like Blackboard, you can access your course site before the semester begins, change the site's layout and appearance, upload documents and assignments, and more. You cannot do any of those things in Zoom. Zoom is simply a live web conferencing platform that lets you share your web camera and screen with others.

  • Assessment. While Zoom has a polling tool, it does not have a testing or exam tool. If you want to give your students a graded assessment, you will need to use an external tool like your learning management system or ExamSoft.

  • Attendance. Zoom can create a report showing who attended a particular Zoom meeting, but that report is hidden. Go to https://harvard.zoom.us/account/my/report, search for a meeting within a one month window, and then click on that meeting's number of participants in the Participants column.

  • Breakout rooms. Zoom offers breakout rooms, and you can either create them and assign students to them live during class, or you can pre-assign participants to breakout rooms before class begins. Unfortunately, there is no way to pre-populate your breakout rooms with content or instructions before class begins. In addition, when your class meeting ends, the breakout rooms that you create in Zoom disappear and will not appear in your next class meeting. Unfortunately, we are not aware of any workaround.

  • File sharing. While you can share files using the Chatbox, Zoom meetings are not meant to be file repositories. Also, the largest file you can share is 512 MB. Tip: If you want to create a file repository for your course, use your learning management system or SharePoint.

  • Polling. If a poll contains multiple questions, your students must answer all of the questions and then click submit before Zoom will record any of the students' answers. In addition, only a single choice or multiple-choice questions are allowed. Tip: for more advanced polling features, use Qualtrics or Poll Everywhere.

  • Whiteboard. Zoom's whiteboard (see Sharing a Whiteboard) is a useful tool for summarizing critical points during discussions, but the button students click to download a screenshot of the whiteboard is hidden. While the whiteboard is on the screen, the students have to click the View Options pull-down list at the top of the whiteboard and then click Annotate. Only then will they see a Save button.

FAQs: We have moved FAQ's to their own page.