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Zoom accounts are now available to all Penn faculty, students, and staff. Log in at upenn.zoom.us/signin to create your account.

Note: Certain organizations and centers have not been integrated into the central Penn Zoom account and may experience account-creation or functionality problems. Users should contact their IT support group for information about the Penn Zoom account and use of the Canvas integration.

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Zoom is a video conferencing platform that allows users to perform synchronous (real-time) functions including host online meetings, participate in group messaging, and share video and audio content. The software is cloud-based and works on desktop, laptop and mobile operating systems including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Linux.

It is recommended that you download and regularly update the Zoom app in order to have access to the full functionality of Zoom while participating in a Zoom meeting.


Online and hybrid classes have a few distinctive features, including the spaces in which students and instructors meet. To facilitate synchronous sessions, many instructors use Zoom’s meeting feature to:

  • Share Screen: With this feature, meeting participants can share content including, a computer desktop, open programs such as Powerpoint, Web Browsers, and Media Players, and other connected devices. Participants can also pause and/or stop sharing at any point during the meeting. While screen sharing, participants can mark-up the screen through the “annotate” menu. The share screen function also allows participants to “share computer sound” so that other participants can hear what you are sharing.
  • Direct Message/Chat: This feature allows participants to speak with each other publicly or privately within the room. The meeting host can also decide whether participants are able to talk with everyone or talk with host only.
  • Record Class Sessions: With this feature, the host can record a meeting, including pause and stop functions. The recording will be automatically sent to Zoom after the meeting for future downloading and embedding within web pages.
  • Conduct Group Breakout Rooms: Here you can arrange group breakout rooms. Hosts can automatically or manually assign the participants into a set number of rooms for group activities. Hosts can also assist group activity by joining their groups or sending an audio or text message. When grouped participants need assistance, they can call the host into individual groups via a convenient “get help” function.
  • Conduct Polls: Hosts and co-hosts can launch a live set of questions for participants to answer during a meeting. There are two types of polls, basic polling and advanced polling. Create polls ahead of time for scheduled meetings in the Zoom web portal or during a live meeting using the tool bar’s poll icon. When a poll is completed, you can share the results with everyone and download poll data to review later.
  • Use the Zoom Whiteboard: Zoom Whiteboard is collaboration tool with a digital canvas. Participants can share whiteboards across any Zoom enabled device, during and outside of a Zoom meeting. Access Whiteboard from the Zoom web portal, desktop client application, or during a Zoom meeting.  
  • Adjust Program Windows: Both the host and participants can arrange video, shared screen, and chat windows to accommodate their screens.
  • Use the Zoom App: Hosts and participants also have the option to use Zoom on Apple iPhone/iPad and Android devices via the Zoom app. This has the benefit of allowing participants to access Zoom meetings from practically any location.

Important Notes about Zoom

  • Online meetings can include up to 300 people.
  • Zoom accounts are now available to all Penn faculty, students, and staff. Log in at upenn.zoom.us/signin to create your account.
  • The Zoom app is the recommended way to connect to synchronous sessions. Users that connect to synchronous sessions via a browser (such as Safari, Chrome or Firefox) will not have access to the full suite of functionalities that are available for Zoom meeting attendees. It is also important to regularly update the Zoom app on your computer.

Using Zoom Through Canvas for Instructors

The Penn Zoom account includes integrations with Canvas and the Panopto video system. These integrations make it easy for you to schedule Zoom meetings for your classes, invite students, and share recordings.

Learn more about using the Zoom integration in Canvas.

Security and Privacy Settings for Meetings

Prevent uninvited guests or mischievous attendees from disrupting your Zoom meeting (“Zoombombing”) by enabling security settings for a scheduled meeting or during a meeting in-progress. For more information, see Penn’s guidance on Zoombombing.

Schedule a Secure Meeting

The Canvas integration makes it easy to schedule class sessions, invite students, and securely share recordings. See Scheduling Zoom Meetings Through Canvas for instructions. 

Consider adding an extra layer of security to your meetings by enabling the following settings:

  • Allow only authenticated users to join: Only users who are logged in to their Penn Zoom account can join. This setting is recommended for most class sessions. 
  • Disable join before host: Students cannot join class before the teacher joins and will see a pop-up that says, “The meeting is waiting for the host to join.”
  • Add a waiting room. The Waiting Room feature allows the host to control when a participant joins the meeting.
  • Require a meeting passcode. Adding a passcode means participants can only join the meeting with a link that contains an embedded passcode, or by manually entering a passcode that you provide to them. We recommend removing the embedded passcode in a meeting link so attendees are forced to manually enter the passcode.

In-Meeting Security Options

Once a meeting has started, there are a variety of security features available to manage disruptive participants:

  • Lock your meeting. When everyone has successfully joined the class session, you can lock your meeting to prevent others from joining. Once a meeting has been locked, hosts are not notified if people are trying to enter and participants will be unable to join/rejoin unless the meeting is unlocked. 
  • Remove a participant. If an uninvited guest shows up to your virtual classroom, you can remove them from the Participants menu. 
  • Manage disruptive participants:
    • Disable video: Turn off a student’s video (Stop video) to block distracting content or inappropriate gestures while class is in session.
    • Mute audio: Mute/unmute individual students or all of them at once using the Mute All option. Mute Upon Entry (in your settings) is also available to minimize disruptions at when everyone joins the meeting.
    • Attendee on-hold: An alternative to removing a user, you can momentarily disable their audio/video connections. Click on the attendee’s video thumbnail and select Start Attendee On-Hold to activate.
  • Control screen sharing. Sharing privileges are set to “Host Only,” so instructors by default are the only ones who can share content in class. However, if students need to share their work with the group, you can allow screen sharing in the host controls.
  • Lock down the chat. As meeting host, you can disable the chat feature for all participants, or disable private chat so participants cannot send private messages.

Recording and Sharing a Meeting Securely

If you are hosting and recording an online meeting, it is especially important to protect the privacy of meeting participants when the meeting is being recorded. Zoom recordings of class sessions scheduled from within Canvas are automatically stored in Panopto, which restricts access to authenticated users of those Canvas sites. 

Sensitive or confidential information should not be recorded, typed into the meeting description, or entered into any other text field that may be stored within Zoom. The University has provided additional guidance for instructors on recording classes via the Almanac. 

Protecting the privacy of participants when recording a meeting:

  • Always advise participants that the meeting is being recorded.
  • Adjust the recording layout to active speaker with shared screen, rather than gallery view. This helps protect the privacy of participants who wish to remain anonymous.
  • Use spotlight video to lock the active speaker video feed to the meeting host(s).
  • Uncheck the option for ‘Display participants names in the recording’ in Advanced Settings
  • Consider providing participants alternative participation options that do not include having their video or audio recorded. 

Sharing meeting recordings securely:

Set availability dates for individual videos and/or folders in Panopto.

Live Automatic Transcription Service

The PennZoom service provides the ability to automatically transcribe the audio of meetings and webinars in real time. Once enabled by the meeting host, participants can turn on subtitles, view the transcript, and/or save a copy of the transcript.

  • Meeting hosts can enable automatic live transcription in meetings and participants will then be alerted that live transcription is available.
  • Meeting participants (with automatic transcription enabled) can turn on subtitles, view the transcript, and/or save a copy of the transcript.

Live transcription only supports English and it is recommended that hosts speak clearly using a headset for best results. Recorded meeting playback does not support live transcriptions.

For detailed instructions on enabling live transcriptions as a meeting host and using the live transcription service as a meeting participant, please see Zoom: Live Automatic Transcription Service.

Last Updated: 7 Apr 2023