The video and audio conferencing app Zoom announced its new Focus mode, aimed to help students focus better during online classes. The new feature allows students to attend class with fewer distractions but the instructor can still keep an eye on everyone.
What Is Zoom Focus Mode?
Zoom designed Focus mode with the digital learning environment in mind. Similar to its Webinar mode, the host and co-hosts can view all the participants' videos without other participants seeing each other.
The new mode also gives the hose control over the screen sharing feature. The host and co-host can view and switch between each participant's shared screen. The participants can only view their own content, not having other participants' video windows on the screen.
Participants in Focus mode can see their own video like in regular Zoom calls, but can only see other participants' names. They can still hear each other when the participants unmute their microphones and nonverbal feedback or reactions will still pop up.
Focus mode can only be controlled by the host and co-hosts and works on Windows desktop or macOS version 7.5.3 or higher. Zoom noted that participants on older client versions of Zoom on the desktop are still included in Focus mode but will not be able to see any notifications regarding Focus mode.
Unlike Zoom's Webinar feature which requires an extra fee to host, The Verge notes that Focus mode seems to be available for all accounts, including the free ones.
Focus mode is not limited to the digital learning environment. The new feature can be used for office meetings, small webinars, and workshops.
How to Enable and Use Focus Mode on Zoom
To enable Focus mode, the user needs to sign in to the Zoom web portal and head over to the navigation panel. In the navigation panel, click on Settings and select the Meeting tab. Find the In Meeting (Advanced) option and click the Focus Mode toggle to enable or disable it.
A verification dialog might pop up to verify the enabling or disabling of the mode. If you find that the option is grayed out, Zoom said that this is because it has been locked at the account level and needs to be changed by the account admin in that level.
To use Focus mode in a meeting, the user must be the host or co-host of the meeting.
When starting the meeting, click on More (the three dots icon) on the meeting toolbar. Select Start Focus Mode and confirm the change by clicking Start. Hosts and co-hosts can select the "Don't ask me again" check box to skip having to confirm when enabling the mode for future meetings.
Hosts, co-hosts, and participants will know when Focus mode is turned on and active with a notification banner along the top of the video window. The Focus mode icon will also be always visible in the top-left corner of the video window, next to the encryption icon.