A&S Learning Design & Technology Knowledge Base

Setting up pre-assigned breakout rooms

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Pre-assigned breakout rooms in Zoom allow you to create groups of students that will work together during a single class session or throughout the whole semester as you choose. This can be a useful tool for lab work, group projects, ongoing group discussions, or simply when you want to control who is in specific groups.

Technical Requirements

In order for pre-assigned breakout rooms to work, a few technical requirements must be met.

  • The host MUST be using the Windows or Mac Zoom desktop app. If you are the host and you try to launch the meeting from either Linux or the Zoom Mobile App, you will NOT be able to see the pre-assigned breakout rooms. Students can use the Mobile Zoom app. (Chromebooks, however, do not support breakout rooms.)

  • All participants MUST be logged in through their UVA Zoom account. (Merely being logged into UVACollab is not sufficient.) 

  • All participants MUST access the meeting through the Zoom app, not the web client. 

Setting up your meeting with pre-assigned breakout rooms

Begin in Collab by creating your class meeting under "Online Meetings." 

Select the option for "Require authentication to join." This requires students to sign into their UVA Zoom account to access the meeting.

Save your meeting.

Now, navigate to virginia.zoom.us to finish setting up your pre-assigned breakout rooms. (You CANNOT complete the following steps inside Collab.)

Select "Settings" on the left-hand side of your screen.  

Navigate to “In Meeting (Advanced).” Select the checkbox for “Allow host to assign participants to breakout rooms when scheduling.”

Still within the “In Meeting (Advanced)” section, deselect the checkbox for “Show a ‘Join from your browser’ link.” This will require all participants to use the Zoom App.

Note:  This setting will apply to all meetings you schedule from your account. If you have other meetings where you do not want to require people to use the App, you will need to reselect this option prior to those meetings.

Now go to the "Meetings" tab on the left-hand side of your Zoom web browser.

Select the meeting you wish to add pre-assigned breakout rooms to. (If you set up a series of recurring meetings, the pre-assigned breakout rooms will be available in each meeting in the series.)

Click "Edit this meeting."

Scroll to the bottom and check the option for "Breakout room pre-assign."

If you only have a few students to put into breakout rooms, you can select the "+Create Rooms" option and manually enter your students' email addresses to add them to the rooms.

For larger classes, the "Import from CSV" option is the best route for creating pre-assigned breakout rooms. 

Download the CSV template. You will see two columns: one for the group names and one for student emails. Paste student emails from your Collab roster in the email column. Rearrange the students into the groups you want. You have the option of naming teams however you like. 

Save your newly edited CSV and upload it into the dialogue box that is still open in Zoom. Once it is uploaded, click "Save" to save the changes you made to your meeting. 

(Note: This CSV and its corresponding breakout rooms will apply to all meetings in a series, so if you set up your course as a recurring meeting, you will only have to upload the CSV one time per semester. It is advisable to save the CSV to your computer, in case you want to edit it and update the pre-assigned breakout rooms meeting later in the semester.)

Inside the Zoom meeting

Once you have started the Zoom meeting with pre-assigned breakout rooms, you will see an option at the bottom of your screen for “Breakout rooms.” 

This will bring up a dialogue box where you can view each room and see which students are assigned to it. Here you can add rooms, swap participants, or assign people who were not previously assigned to rooms.

The “Options” button allows you to control for how long students will be in the breakout rooms. 

Select “Open all Rooms” to send students to their breakout rooms. You can manually assign any students who were not successfully assigned to breakout rooms. 

If students do not automatically populate the breakout rooms, try selecting "Recreate" then "Recover to pre-assigned breakout rooms." This acts as a refresh button for the pre-assigned rooms to add any students that joined after you started the meeting.


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