Zoom has announced a host of new features aimed at educators and students. These features include enhancements to the Breakout Rooms feature, “Anywhere Polls”, and newly added support for virtual background and blur on Chromebooks. According to the company, it added virtual backgrounds and blur features on Zoom for Chrome after requests from education customers since Chromebooks are popular among students and teachers.
“Virtual background and blur for Chromebooks is extremely beneficial to our students and teachers. Many students were reluctant to turn their cameras on before this feature enhancement,” Rod Smith, Chief Technology Officer, Clayton County Public Schools said in a press statement. Clayton County Public Schools is one of the customers that requested the feature.
The Breakout Rooms feature on Zoom allows conference hosts to split attendees into separate breakout rooms for group activities. It is a popular feature among education users. The new Program Audio feature will allow meeting hosts to share content with audio to breakout rooms, adding the ability to share videos with audio.
Also, the new LTI Pro integration enhancement to Breakout Rooms will allow educators to populate breakout rooms based on the course roster. The LTI pro app integrates with learning management systems (LMSs) used by educators.
Another new feature is ‘Anywhere Polls’ which allows polls to be added to a central repository that can be accessed from any meeting on an account instead of being associated with a particular meeting. This feature will be made available this year.
Zoom also added features allowing users to send audio and video messages on Zoom Chat. These asynchronous video messages are aimed at allowing users to take time, consider and record thoughtfully crafted responses. Users can click “video” at the bottom of the chat client and record a video message (up to 3 minutes long), which will go directly into the out-of-meeting chat channel.
Another new feature allows users to rename participants in the waiting room before they join the call. According to Zoom, this is useful for attendance taking, creating an anonymous student group or for affirming gender identity.