16 Strategies to Encourage Students to Turn Their Cameras On

Decorative: A Zoom screen filled with aquarium animals - several fish, a frog, a penguin, a starfish, etc.


"Strategies to Encourage Students to Turn Their Cameras On" (post) outlines 16 strategies to encourage students to engage visually in Zoom classes.

  • Each suggestion listed below is elaborated with practical suggestions in the original post.
  • Suggestions below are given in three categories:
    • Social and emotional learning (SEL) strategies
    • Zoom tips 
    • Instructional tips 

A. Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Strategies to Encourage Camera Use

"[S]tart with the recognition that words matter: Our communication with our students needs to be rooted in community, not compliance."

  • "Build relationships." 
  • "Survey students." 
    • "Once you identify the barriers to camera use, you can collaborate with students to reduce or remove those barriers."
  • "Use icebreakers." 
    • "[C]ommunity-building activities ... encourage camera use."
    • Elevate Experiences has a playlist of icebreakers that you can try. 
  • "Play games." 
    • Some quick, starter, lesson-connected activities that can act as hooks, increase engagement, and encourage camera:
      • Memory with a lesson-relevant visual
      • Mystery Person with three clues
      • Mystery Sound or 20 Questions about some aspect of the subject
      • 5 Second Rule ("List three things that ..." tie into the lesson somehow)
      • Would You Rather ...? connected to the topic, etc. 
  • "Visually vote or share understanding." 
    • "Have students vote with their thumbs up or down on a topic, or poll the class with a Fist-to-Five, a simple signaling system that can engage reluctant students and build consensus within a group."
  • "Encourage students who have social capital to use their cameras."
    • "[Use] a Google form to ask students to name three classmates with whom they would most like to be in a breakout room or with whom they would most like to work on a group project."
    • "The students with the most requests are likely the students with the most social capital and can be positive role models for camera-on activities." 
  • "Be empathetic." 
    • "Share ... times when you haven’t felt like being on camera in a meeting."
    • "Talk about how you prepare yourself to turn on the camera, even when you’re not in the mood." 

2. "Zoom Tips to Encourage Camera Use"

  • "Admit students into class one by one." 
    • "As students arrive, admit and greet them individually, and check in with them about camera use."
    • "[T]hose who arrive early and have their cameras on will gain comfort from being in a small group to start."
    • "Plus, as the other students enter, they will register that some cameras are already on."
  • "Use the 'Ask to Start Video' option." 
    • "[C]lic[k] the participant’s black screen; then click the horizontal '…' and select 'Ask to Start Video.'"
  • "Send a private message in the chat."
    • "Use the chat feature to welcome the student, check in with them, and encourage them to turn on their camera."
  • "Encourage virtual backgrounds."
    •  "It could be that a student is resistant to using their camera because of their home environment."

3. "Instructional Tips to Encourage Camera Use"

  • "Let students know when cameras can be optional." 
  • "Allow students to show only part of their body or space on camera." 
  • "Provide options for rubrics that include camera usage." 
    • "If having the camera on is relevant to your objective, then consider including it as a criterion for success." 
  • "Have students submit a prerecorded video demonstrating skill or objective." 
  • "Ask students to suggest alternatives." 
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