Teaching with Zoom: National and Transcontinental Partnerships

September 19, 2018 / By: Jo Montie

Imagine your students on one continent, you on another meeting synchronously. Well, Dr. Susan Marsnik (University of St. Thomas’s Opus College of Business, Department of Ethics and Law Faculty) not only imagined it…she did it! Watch this short clip of an interview with Dr. Marsnik and learn how she addressed her teaching goals successfully in a transcontinental teaching partnership with students in Strasbourg, France. Dr. Marsnik has also leveraged Zoom to bring a guest speaker in New York City into her Minneapolis classroom.

Check out the full interview (15 minutes) to gain useful insights into using Zoom video conferencing to reach students around the globe and continue reading for additional tips and tricks for a successful Zoom conferencing session.

Plan Ahead and Practice

For a better, less stressful experience plan ahead and have a contingency plan. Dr. Marsnik worked with ITS/STELAR to test audio, video, and slides prior to the class time. The contingency plan addressed communication around potential system failures with shared contact information and training on use of Zoom chat. Dr. Marsnik did not need to use the contingency plans in this case, yet she was ready!

Prior to the first class session hold a low-stakes practice and have students log-in to test their audio and video. This will give you time to address any technology issues ahead of time and students will feel more comfortable with the systems.

Set-up Early

Don’t wait until the last minute to start your session. Begin at least 30 minutes ahead of time (especially your first session) so that you have adequate time to get set up and test your systems. Your participants may also want to get started early to test their speakers, microphone and camera.


You can hold your Zoom session in one of the TMH Minneapolis or OEC St Paul studios, a classroom, or can run a session from your own desktop computer using a headset and webcam. You can even host your own Zoom meetings from a mobile device although we strongly recommend that instructors use a laptop or desktop for the fullest use of Zoom for teaching. In the scenarios described in the interview, Dr. Marsnik used a combination of the recording studio, her office desktop and a physical classroom (all with Zoom); currently, Dr. Marsnik is interested in expanding her use of her own desktop (with Zoom) because of the ease and control.

Dr Susan Marsnik
Dr. Susan Marsnik in the Minneapolis Studio

Actively Attend to Audio Quality

Optimizing audio is one of the highest priorities for a quality Zoom session. Use the Test Zoom feature to check your speakers and microphone. Visit the STELAR Zoom page for full details on how to test your systems. Ask your participants to mute their mic when they are not speaking. This will limit background noise and feedback. Pick a location for your meeting that is quiet and put a sign on your door to avoid interruptions.

Information Technology Services/STELAR Consultations

Reach out to our Information Technology Services (ITS)/STELAR experts to expand the ways that you reach and teach your students. Combine quality technology supports such as Zoom video conferencing with your teaching and subject matter expertise and a willingness to step into something new to create a truly unique and valuable experience for your students.

Bookmark Stelar Training and Events for upcoming trainings about Zoom, or request a specific type of consultation with someone from the Zoom team at stelar@stthomas.edu.

Much appreciation to Professor Susan Marsnik, ITS/STELAR team members Tim Silverthorn and Matthew Logering (UST Information Technology Services), and the student participants for leading St. Thomas into new learning innovation territory. We also appreciate the talented videography work from Dan Lamatsch and John Sullivan, and the inspiration from Dan Hoisington around not being afraid to step into something new!