A&S Learning Design & Technology Knowledge Base

Allowing users to choose breakout rooms

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Note: To use this feature, all students and instructors must have Zoom updated to 5.3.0 or later. To update Zoom, open the Zoom application on your computer, click your initials, click check for updates, and then follow prompts to run updates. We recommend you do this weekly.

How to allow participants to choose their own breakout rooms

Select the breakout room icon during a meeting.
Select the option "Let participants choose room."

Once the host opens the breakout rooms, participants will see a list of available breakout rooms. They can select "join" next to whichever room they would like oto join. Once in a room, participants can  move between rooms at any time during the breakout session by selecting the breakout room icon, and selecting “join” next to another room.

Host and Participants see a list of all rooms and a list of who is in each room at the moment.

Suggestions for use

This new functionality is compatible with pre-assigned breakout rooms. 

  • Host: when you create your meeting, you can pre-assign breakout rooms for all or some participants, or just create a number of rooms without anyone assigned to them. 

    • The last option makes it so the host does not have to manually create rooms at the start of the meeting. This may be useful for instructors who have large classes and want to allow the students to choose their own rooms.

    • Previously, students who joined a Zoom meeting after pre-assigned breakout rooms had opened, or were not assigned correctly to rooms, needed to be manually added to a room by the instructor. Now, latecomers or unassigned students can add themselves to the correct room. 

  • Assign students to groups prior to opening the breakout rooms, so that each group is of equal size. When it’s time to use the rooms, allow students to select the room associated with their group. Hosts who do not pre-assign breakout rooms may prefer this option. 

Rename breakout rooms to group names, student names, etc. Hosts can rename breakout rooms to help students find their assigned rooms. To rename rooms, first create rooms, then hover over the name of the room (Room 1, for example) to see a ‘rename’ option. 


    • Students should join from the desktop Zoom client, not the mobile app, for breakout room use.

    • You cannot limit the number of participants for each room at any one time.

    • Have participants select the “breakout rooms” icon to choose their room in case they do not see a pop-up notification inviting them to join a room.

    • When students are choosing to join a particular breakout room, they must click the “Join” button next to the room name. If there are many users joining rooms at once, the “Join” icon may shift location as new users join their rooms. This can cause a user to accidentally select a room other than the room they intended to select.


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