Zoom announced that they now have a new feature called Focus Mode, which is meant to keep students from getting distracted during online classes. The announcement was made in a “back-to-school” blog post as many schools are still opting for remote learning.

“…Back-to-school preparation may look a little different—instead of shopping for backpacks or going over bus schedules, your student may be learning how to join a Zoom class session or log on to their school’s learning management system (LMS),” wrote Zoom.

Focus Mode works by giving the host and co-hosts (the teachers, in this case) the ability to view all of the participants’ (the students) videos, but the participants won’t be able to see other participants during the call. This also applies during screen sharing, as the hosts can view and switch between each participant’s shared screen while the participants can only view their own content.

However, if the hosts want a participant’s content to be shared with others, they can easily opt to. According to Zoom, the new feature will allow students to “stay attentive or work on their tasks while under supervision, without being distracted by others and their tasks”.

“With this feature, teachers can supervise their class, but students won’t be distracted by their peers’ video feeds or feel self-conscious about turning on their own camera,” explained Zoom.

I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to concentrate in a class using a video conferincing platform, especially if it’s a rather long class and you’re no longer in an environment where a teacher can give you face-to-face attention. Zoom’s new feature might be able to help the situation, especially as I’ve seen quite a few videos online where students would pull pranks during Zoom classes.

To use Focus mode in your next online class, start a meeting as the host or co-host, then click ‘More’ on the meeting toolbar. You’ll then be able to click ‘Start Focus Mode’. When Focus Mode begins, you and the participants are notified with a banner along the top of the video window. The Focus Mode icon is also always visible in the top-left corner of the video window while focus mode is active. You can find more information on how Focus Mode works here.

Besides the new feature announcement, Zoom also shares ways to help students get ready for video conference classes. The tips include setting up a dedicated spot for studying and joining Zoom class sessions, learning Zoom’s video and audio settings, and other features you can learn to use on the platform like the ‘Raise Hand’ option.

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