Minimising and troubleshooting audio and connectivity issues in Zoom

Technology issues, in particular audio and connectivity issues, are a reality of using a live conferencing tool.

Even if you and students have a good internet connection, VPNs and firewalls can slow down the transmission of data-intensive content such as video and audio.

Connection quality can also depend on the student's location. Some of your students may have a great connection where they are, while others may have a very poor connection.

Using a quality headset

If you will regularly be running Zoom sessions in your teaching, acquire through your school or purchase a good USB headset with microphone. Ideally, your students would have a good headset too.

Where possible, you and your students should avoid using:

  • Built-in laptop audio/microphone:
    • Can create echo effects if you have not muted the correct channels
    • Can create echo effects if you have others in the same room, in the same webinar as you
    • Can capture unwanted background noise.
  • Wired earbud headphones, such as the type that are often used with mobile phones
  • Wireless headsets - these can work, but they are not as reliable as USB headsets - battery life may become an issue during a day involving many Zoom sessions.

Poor hardware choice can lead to annoyances such as:

  • Students not being able to hear you clearly
  • You not being able to hear students clearly
  • Interference issues.

But the COVID19 context means having to be pragmatic, so in the end, use what you have.

In-session troubleshooting of technical issues

The following table outlines common issues and some approaches for resolving them.

Issue Check first Other checks

Students can’t hear you

  • Check if you are muted
  • Write a message in Chat if you need a moment to fix
  • Click the arrow next to the microphone icon and go through audio set up
  • Unplug your headset and plug it back in again

You can hear annoying background noise

  • In 'Manage Participants' check if all of your students are muted
  • Ask students to mute their microphones
  • If necessary, press 'Mute All' to do it for them
  • If you really don't want them to ever unmute, then also uncheck 'allow participants to unmute themselves'

One or more students are saying your video communication is patchy/breaking up (latency issue)

  • If you have video on, turn it off
  • If students have video on, ask them to turn it off
  • If that doesn't work, try stopping screen share and just using audio and the Chat feature

A student is speaking but their audio is patchy/breaking up.
Note: we do not recommend using student audio for students impacted by the travel restrictions.

  • If you have video on, turn it off
  • Ask them to use the Chat feature to communicate

A student is trying to speak, but no one can hear them.
Note: we do not recommend using student audio for students impacted by the travel restrictions.

  • Check if they are muted
  • Ask them to click the arrow next to the microphone icon and go through audio set up
  • Ask them to unplug their headset and plug it back in again
  • Ask them to use Chat instead