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Using Zoom Breakout Rooms

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Using Zoom Breakout Rooms for Instruction

Instructional Challenge

In many of the online active learning activities, there is a need for students to chat and work collaboratively on a topic. This document walks you through setting up and using breakout rooms in Zoom.

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Setting Up a Zoom Session

You must first create a Zoom session. This is where students will go to work together while in the classroom. Note: Breakout groups are only available in sessions with 250 or fewer attendees. You can create up to 20 breakout rooms. There is no limit to the number of attendees you can put in each group.

  1. Sign in to your UW-Madison Zoom account.
  2. Select Schedule a meeting.
  3. Provide a name for the session (Example: Anthro 100 Tues/Thurs 11-11:50 am).
  4. Select Create.

Managing Breakout Room Sessions

Before the class session, think about group formation. How do you want to organize the students into groups? Create group lists to share with students before class or organize groups randomly.

Be aware that Zoom has a feature to pre-assign groups ahead of time, but that workflow may be difficult to manage as it requires students to log in with the email used for assignments. If pre-assigned groups are preferred, we recommend allowing students to navigate themselves to pre-assigned room numbers rather than attempting the Zoom Breakout room pre-assign tool. Follow these directions when you are in the Zoom session:

  1. Select the Breakout Room button. If the button is not visible, be sure you have entered the Zoom space through your Zoom portal. Do not enter the session via the same link and passcode given to students.
  2. Enter the preferred number of breakout rooms.
  3. Select one of the following breakout room options:
    • Assign Automatically: The quickest way to assign students to rooms in Zoom is to choose Assign Automatically.
    • Assign Manually: If pre-assigned groups are essential to the activity, use Assign Manually to assign students to rooms one by one manually.
    • Let participants choose room: If pre-assigned groups are essential to the activity, select Let participants choose a room to enable students to join pre-assigned groups. Send pre-assigned group lists to students via email, Canvas, or shared Google Docs beforehand. Plan extra minutes when students are asked to navigate to their room.
  4. Note: You can create up to 50 breakout rooms. There is no limit to the number of attendees you can put in each room.


KeywordsZoom, group work, collaboration, Zoom small group, breakout rooms, breakout group, zoom groups, zoom breakout rooms, zoom breakout groupsDoc ID107403
OwnerJulie J.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2020-11-25 12:53:40Updated2023-12-27 11:27:50
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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