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Teaching remotely: Zoom at UCT


Zoom is a video conferencing service which enables you to teach small or large classes remotely via the internet. It includes numerous features to optimise the teaching and learning experience, including whiteboards, student participation, screen-sharing, and video recording.

When to use Zoom

UCT's Zoom licences are intended for teaching. For meetings and other collaborative work, please use Microsoft Teams - which is available to all staff members and students and offers similar functionality.  

Zoom is suitable for various levels of online teaching – from small, collaborative classes, all the way up to large classes where you require student interaction.

Although the technology allows lectures to continue online, you need to  consider whether this kind of setup is necessary for your classes. Many students may not have access to the necessary bandwidth to access live online lectures – as Zoom (and other video conferencing services) are not zero-rated by South Africa’s mobile network providers.

In addition, UCT has a limited number of Zoom educational licences, so not every academic will be able to use the service. These licences will also only run until 1st December 2020.

For guidance on how to best adapt your teaching for remote learning, see the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching’s guides:


  • Flexible presentation: You can present from your PC or laptop, Mac, or mobile device (Android or iOS).
  • Live video lectures: Conduct video lectures for small or large audiences, with up to 300 interactive participants. In addition to the live video of the presenter, you can also use a whiteboard and share your screen or a specific application. One or more students can also share their screens to the meeting.
  • Collaborate with others: For small groups, the built-in whiteboard allows students to annotate content with you. When students share their screen, they can also allow you to take control of their screen – so you can work in that application on their screen. Students can also take control of your screen if you allow it.
  • Audio only: Lectures can also be conducted via audio only –without visuals.
  • Instant messaging: Text messaging or chat is included, either within the whole group or privately between presenter and an individual student.
  • Secure: Access to each meeting or lecture is controlled via a link and a password which you send to students.
  • Distraction-free: You can mute the microphones of students when you need to explain something without interruptions.
  • Video recording: Sessions can be recorded for participants to access afterwards. You can record to your computer or device, or to your Zoom account in the cloud.

A word of caution

Video conferencing services – like Zoom – have become particular popular during the current pandemic. This makes such services a lucrative target for scammers, who operate in areas that may give them the highest returns. Zoom’s rapid rise in popularity, for example, has put it under the spotlight with numerous security-related issues being raised. The company has rolled out several changes to address these issues, and continues to work on improving the service’s privacy and security.

UCT recommends Zoom, through Vula integration, for virtual classroom teaching – taking into account limited student connectivity and low tech recommendations. Our user instructions include vendor-recommended best practices on how to stay safe. We recommend that you apply all these measures if you are using the platform.

However, for meetings and all other online collaboration, you may use Microsoft Teams – which is supported by ICTS.

There are noted concerns that have been published about a variety of video and web conferencing tools e.g. Zoom, Cisco WebEx, MS Teams, etc. There's no video conferencing service that is absolutely safe or private – in much the same way that there is no operating system that can claim to be bug-free or completely safe either. What we advocate is that you always follow the vendor-provided privacy and safety guidelines, and general best practices for safe and secure video conferencing.

Technology requirements

Both lecturers and students need a reliable internet connection suitable for their needs:

For lecturers: How to set up Zoom for teaching at UCT

To minimise delays at the time of your lectures, please follow these instructions well in advance of your class.

Step 1: Set up your UCT Zoom account and install the application

  1. If you have an existing Zoom account - not associated with UCT - please open the Zoom application and log out of it.
  2. In a browser, visit https://tenet-za.zoom.us 
  3. Select Sign in via your institution (SSO).
  4. A South Africa Identity Federation (SAFIRE) page will open .
  5. Select University of Cape Town.
  6. A UCT Single Sign-On  page opens.
  7. Log in using your UCT credentials.
  8. A South Africa Identity Federation (SAFIRE) Personal information transfer notice page opens. The page details your information that will be sent to Zoom.us via SAFIRE.
  9. Click Continue to Service.
  10. Your UCT-linked Zoom account is now set up. A Zoom page opens, showing details of your UCT-linked Zoom profile.
  11. Open the Zoom application. (If you have not yet installed it, do so from the official source).
  12. In the application, select Sign In with SSO.
  13. In the Company Domain text box, enter: tenet-za then click Continue.
  14. In your browser, a window opens asking whether you want to open the Zoom application. Click Open Zoom.
  15. The Zoom application is opened on your device and you are signed in with your UCT-linked Zoom account.

Step 2: Add Zoom to your Vula course site

Follow these instructions to add Zoom to your Vula course site.

Step 3: Schedule and conduct your lectures

  1. If you will be presenting from a computer or device other than the one used when you set up, please:
  2. Follow these instructions to schedule and conduct lectures online.

Also note that Vula Site owners and support staff can host meetings in course sites.

For students: How to access a Zoom room for a class

Students don’t need a Zoom account to access the lecture and can access lectures from either a computer or a mobile device.

If you will be accessing the lecture via a computer, you don’t need to install the Zoom application, as you can join the lecture via a web browser. However, it’s preferable to install the application as this will give you additional functionality.

If you will access lectures via a mobile device, you need to install the Android or iOS Zoom app.

After doing so, follow these instructions to access your online lectures online.

Need help?

Please review the above-mentioned instructions for using Zoom for teaching at UCT.

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