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New Zoom Focus Mode wants to cut out home learning distractions for good

Teacher using Zoom focus mode in online lesson
(Image credit: Zoom)

Using Zoom for online learning should be about to get a lot more productive thanks to a new feature that should help students concentrate.

The video conferencing platform has launched a new "focus mode" in time for the new school year that it says will help children and students of all ages focus better in online classes carried out over Zoom.

In a nutshell, the feature means that teachers will be able to see all of their class, but the students won't be able to see each other - hopefully meaning they are less distracted.

Zoom focus mode

"With this feature, teachers can supervise their class, but students won’t be distracted by their peers’ video feeds or feel self-conscious about turning on their own camera," Zoom said in a blog post announcing the feature.

Using the new mode, participants can only see their own stream, with only the names of other attendees being visible (although they can see any nonverbal feedback or reactions e.g. emoji reactions) - while the host (or any co-hosts) can view and switch between each participant’s shared screen.

If the host believes that a certain participant’s content needs to be shared with the wider group, they can easily begin sharing the participant’s screen with the other attendees. Hosts can also unmute selected participants, or spotlight a particular attendee, for example when asking a question.

Focus mode isn't necessarily just for students and teachers, and could dovetail nicely with Zoom's Webinar mode, allowing companies to carry out presentations or hold staff meetings with large numbers of workers.

Hosts will need to have admin rights to turn on the new feature, which requires Zoom client 5.7.3 or higher on Windows and Mac to run. Focus mode can be enabled or locked for specific accounts, groups or individuals, and once activated, can be found by clicking the "More" button when in a meeting.

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Mike Moore

Mike Moore is News & Features Editor across both TechRadar Pro and ITProPortal. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.