Online Learning for Students

Get Connected – What you’ll need

  • An internet connection.
  • A computer or mobile device with a camera and microphone.
  • A headset (either earphones or an earphones/microphone combination), while not required, may help you more effectively block out background noise.

All registered York students have access to a wide variety of free and discounted software for Windows and Mac computers, including web browsers, communication tools, productivity tools, statistical and analysis software, anti-virus software, document creation and collaboration software and entertainment.   Visit the Computing for Students webpage for details about all available free and discounted software from York and how to get it.

When you’re ‘On’

  • Create an intentional space for your classes that is quiet space, free from distractions.
  • Be mindful of your background and ensure adequate lighting. Consider using a Zoom background if would rather not have publicly visible your location or because someone in your may enter your video space.
  • Test your audio when you’re connecting. Zoom will ask you to confirm that you’ve heard a tone and then playback sample voice audio. Mute your microphone when you’re not speaking so background noise from your location doesn’t disrupt other Zoom meeting participants. You can toggle your microphone on and off using the microphone icon in the toolbar at the bottom of your screen.
  • Use your camera. You do have a choice of not appearing on camera but to get the most out of class and its important that you see others and they see you.
  • Use Zoom features like the chat to ask a question or raise hand to answer one

Video Conferencing Etiquette

You should conduct and present yourself in the same manner you would if you were attending an in-person class.  Here are a few other tips:


  • DO be courteous to other participants.
  • DO speak clearly.
  • DO keep body movements minimal.
  • DO use the raise your hand feature if wanting to ask a question live.
  • DO maintain eye contact by looking into the camera.
  • DO dress appropriately.
  • DO be yourself and have fun!


  • DON’T make distracting sounds.
  • DON’T shout.
  • DON’T make distracting movements.
  • DON’T interrupt other speakers.
  • DON’T carry on side conversations.
  • DON’T cover your mouth with your hand(s).
  • DON’T cover the microphone

Zoom Accessibility Features

Zoom follows the latest accessibility standards to ensure that the product is fully accessible by everyone. Accessibility features include:

  • Closed captioning. Zoom integrates with many third-party closed captioning providers.
  • Automatic Transcripts. If you instructor has recorded your meeting to the cloud, you can access the audio transcript feature to transcribe the audio, process a text file and enable searching.
  • Screen reader support. Zoom is accessible to the latest screen readers, so you can use Zoom without a screen.
  • Keyboard Accessibility. Zoom supports keyboard shortcuts for easy navigation of Zoom features.

Students registered with York’s Student Accessibility Services can access assistive technologies through the Assistive Technology Lab.

More Ways to Connect with Zoom

  • In addition to Zoom’s built-in accessibility features, you can also call in to and participate in a Zoom meeting by telephone. Your instructor can provide the call-in phone number with the meeting invitation.
  • If you want to participate in Zoom video meetings but don’t have the technology to do so, you can borrow a laptop from York. Visit the Off-Campus Computing page for details.

Zoom Security & Privacy

Many of your classes may be conducted through Zoom. Here’s what you should know about Zoom security and privacy:

  • You can log in to York’s Zoom account securely with your Passport York login credentials. Only your name and email address are stored by the Zoom @ York U service.
  • Your instructor has the ability to record a Zoom meeting. You will be alerted to active recording by an audible alert and a red record icon at the top left of your Zoom window.
  • Your instructor can also grant other meeting participants the ability to record a meeting.
  • Recordings may be saved to a personal device or to the cloud. Cloud servers are external to the York U network but can only be viewed by those who have received a meeting link from the instructor. Recorded files will only be available for download for 30 days, and only if your instructor has granted you permission to download.
  • Recordings will be made and provided to students in accordance with Osgoode’s Lecture Recording Policy
  • To promote social interaction and classroom engagement, you are encouraged to have your camera on during classes. However, if you prefer, you can either turn off video or replace it with a static image. You might also want to just turn on your video at the beginning of a meeting to say hi, and then turn it off for the duration of the meeting. Note that for some classes, video participation may be a requirement.
  • Zoom is hosted on servers in the U.S., including recordings done through Zoom.
  • If you have privacy concerns about your data, provide only your first name or nickname when you join a session. If you do this, it is a good idea to still identify yourself to your instructor in the chat box.

Recording Zoom Meetings

The Zoom platform is meant to facilitate online meetings to closely resemble the interactions that may occur in an in-person meeting. As is the case with in-person meetings, audio or video recordings of the meetings are generally not advised for privacy reasons; recordings are also not advised for online meetings for the same reason. If a Zoom meeting is being recorded, the system is configured to automatically notify all participants that a session is being recorded. In other words, a session cannot be recorded without you knowing about it.

When necessary, you can assign one meeting participant to take notes or minutes of your meeting in order to maintain a record of the meeting or to share with meeting participants. More information about Minute-Taking Tips and Techniques is available on York’s Information & Privacy Office website.

Perhaps you want to set up a Zoom meeting with classmates, to collaborate on work or hold a study session. Here’s some security settings you should use if you’re scheduling a Zoom meeting:

  • Require registration: This shows you every email address of everyone who signed up to join your meeting and can help you evaluate who is attending.
  • Use a random meeting ID: We recommend you generate a random meeting ID for your meeting, so it cannot be shared multiple times. This is the better alternative to using your Personal Meeting ID, which is not advised because it is basically an ongoing meeting that is always running.
  • Password-protect the meeting: Create a password and share with your meeting participants (preferably via York email) so only those you want to join can access your meeting.
  • Allow only authenticated users to join: Checking this box means only people who are signed into their Zoom account can access your meeting.
  • Disable join before host: This means that participants can’t join your meeting before you: if they try, they will see a pop-up message that says, “The meeting is waiting for the host to join”. Once you join, then you can admit the waiting participants through the Participants panel (accessed from a button on the bottom bar of your Zoom screen.)
  • Manage annotation: You should disable participant annotation in the screen sharing controls to prevent participants from annotating on a shared screen and disrupting meeting.

Additionally, there are some in-meeting options to help secure and control your virtual meeting:

  • Disable video: You can turn off a participant’s video to block any distracting or inappropriate content while your meeting is in session.
  • Mute participants: You can mute and unmute individual participants or all of them at once. Mute Upon Entry (in your settings) is also available to limit the noise/distractions as people enter the meeting.
  • Attendee on-hold: As an alternative to removing a participant from your meeting, you can temporarily disable their audio/video connections. Click on the attendee’s video thumbnail and select Start Attendee On-Hold to activate.
  • Lock your meeting: Once the meeting has started and all participants have joined, lock the meeting using the Lock Meeting button in the Participants pop-up. This will ensure that no-one who was not invited crashes your meeting.

Visit York’s Information & Privacy Office website for a suite of Privacy Resources for Students, including information for protecting your online reputation, cyber security and social media privacy for university students.