Virtual classes Working with Zoom Discussions & Assignments in Canvas Zoom Trainings & FAQs

Instruction at SIPA is in the classroom during the academic year. In the event of unforeseen circumstances and disruption to campus activities, instructors can continue to hold classes and communicate with students using instructional technologies available through CourseWorks (Canvas).

Host Class Virtually VIA Canvas/Zoom

Hold synchronous, live sessions, that can also be recorded for later viewing

Zoom is a video conferencing tool that allows users (e.g. instructors) to speak with others (e.g. students) in different locations by streaming audio and video. The tool is accessible from a computer, a smartphone or a tablet. SIPA Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) and Office of Information Technology (SIPAIT) will work with instructors to setup and configure Zoom meetings for each course, train and support faculty and teaching assistants. Look for emails from Dean McIntyre for details.

There are two types of Zoom accounts:

  • Zoom Basic: free to all Columbia faculty, staff and students; it will time-out after 40 minutes if there are three or more participants in a meeting. You may create a Zoom basic account at by selecting the Sign In button.
  • Zoom Pro:  accommodates up to 300 people and has no time limit. OAA has set-up Zoom Pro meetings for all courses and recitations and will inform faculty shortly about how to access these.
  • OAA will send information to each faculty member about how to start a scheduled meeting in Zoom Pro for classes and recitations.
  • OAA also will inform students about how to join meetings for classes and recitations.
  • Lectures will be set to auto record. SIPAIT will transfer these to faculty’s CourseWorks sites within 2-3 business days. Faculty may opt-out of lecture recording by contacting Andrew Johnson. Students will be able to view the recordings in Courseworks (Canvas) under "Pages" tab.
  • Students may then review them when available.
  • For support with Zoom related issues, please email
  • View instructions on preparation for working with Zoom.
  • Also see Zoom Essential Features Guide


The Canvas native Conferences (BBB) tool is available in all course sites.

  • Instructors can assign students to groups. 
  • Students can use Conferences with each other, post on in the Discussions, share documents and use chat.
  • The Conferences tool allows Teachers and TA’s to start a web conference using Big Blue Button (BBB). 
  • Students can also use Conferences in any group sites that have been put in by Instructors.
  • CUIT posted a guide for teachers up on the Canvas Tips and Tricks page (requires authentication).
  • Canvas has documentation for here