Zoom offers the ability for participants to change backgrounds. While these can be distracting at times, allowing the use of virtual backgrounds not only enlivens the class, it can also provide the opportunity to hide clutter and allows students to participate in class without exposing their personal space to others.
Of course, it is important to have some ground rules with the use of virtual backgrounds. No hate speech and nothing offensive or threatening.
Some other tips for using virtual backgrounds:
- Keep your space well-lit as this reduces the chance of clouds around your head and shoulders, random disappearances of body parts etc.
- Animated virtual backgrounds many be distracting to others.
- Zoom recommends using a high-contrast, solid-color background.
- Don’t wear clothing that’s the same color as your virtual background.
Remember, as a meeting host, you can turn off someone’s video. This will allow you to block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate backgrounds or gestures on video.
Finally, remind your students that they do not need a set in the background. A simple, blank wall is perfectly okay!
Psst…here are some virtual backgrounds from U of T Libraries.