Zoom Breakout Rooms

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What Are Breakout Rooms?

Breakout rooms are sessions that are split off from the main Zoom meeting. Breakout room participants have access to full audio, video, chat, and screen share capabilities. Each room's activity including any chat posts remain separate from the main zoom meeting and only are accessible to the breakout room participants.

Assign Participants to Rooms:

  • Automatically: Let Zoom split your participants up evenly into each of the rooms.
  • Manually: Choose which participants you would like in each room.
  • Let participants choose room: Participants can select and enter rooms on their own.

Breakout Room Prerequisites


  • Zoom desktop client on Windows or macOS, version 5.3.0 or higher


  • Zoom desktop client on Windows or macOS, version 5.3.0 or higher; or Web client

How to Use Breakout Rooms

  • Once invited to a Breakout Room, participants press Join to enter.
  • Participants may invite the host to join the Breakout Room by clicking on Ask for Help in the meeting controls and then pressing Invite Host.
  • If the host has setup the Breakout Room to allow recording, participants may record while in the Breakout Room.
  • When the host ends the breakout room sessions, participants automatically return to the main session within 60 seconds. (The 60 second default can be changed, if needed.)

ZOOM - Video Breakout Rooms

(3:18 min video)

See Detailed Help for Managing Breakout Rooms

Hosting Breakout Rooms

Breakout rooms allow a host, with the press of a button, to invite Zoom participants into small group sessions for discussion and collaboration. The host can choose to split the participants of the meeting into these separate sessions automatically or manually. If students arrive late to class and Breakout Room Sessions have already begun, Zoom does not automatically send these late-arrival students to their assigned Breakout Room. Instead, the host must assign late-arrival students manually to their Breakout Rooms. While the breakout rooms are active, the host may monitor activity by moving from one breakout room to the next.

ZOOM - Managing Breakout Rooms by Cassidy Hall

(4:21 min video)

As a host, be sure to enable breakout rooms in your settings.

Co-Hosts in Breakout Rooms

Co-hosts can be used to provide much needed relief when running a Zoom meeting with numerous participants. Once a co-host has joined the initial breakout room assigned to them by the host, they may switch between rooms as needed -- as long as they remain in the Zoom session. If they exit and re-enter Zoom, the host must assign them once again as a co-host to a breakout room. And they must enter the breakout room assigned to them FIRST before switching to other rooms.

Tip: Co-hosts will only have the ability to move between breakout rooms after they have joined an initial breakout room allocated to them by the host.

Although co-hosts can do many things, only hosts may a) assign participants to a breakout room, b) assign co-hosts to an initial breakout room, and c) create, open, and close breakout rooms. Two people cannot control breakout rooms at the same time. If you are working with a co-host, your options are to assign the co-host an initial breakout room or to make the co-host the host and allow them to control the breakout room access for everyone.

ZOOM - Co-Host Controls in Breakout Rooms by Cassidy Hall

(1:53 min video)

Pre-Assign Participants

You may pre-assign participants to breakout rooms when you schedule the meeting instead of managing them during the meeting. This can be useful if you already know how you want to split up your participants. Pre-Assigning participants requires that students sign into their Zoom account (uidaho authenticated) when they enter the room. If they are not signed in, Zoom will not recognize the participants and they will not be automatically added to their pre-assigned breakout room. Select one of the two options below to pre-assign participants to breakout rooms:

Pre-assign participants to breakout rooms using the web portal

  • Select Create Rooms to use Zoom's online portal. This allows the host to easily create breakout rooms and input the email addresses of participants into each room.

Pre-assign participants to breakout rooms using a CSV file

  • Follow the steps below to pre-assign participants to breakout rooms using a CSV file. If inviting someone outside of the University, the host must use this option.
  • STEP 1: Obtain Student Email Addresses from BbLearn
    • Open a new document in Microsoft Excel
    • Open your BbLearn course
    • Go to Users & Groups > Users
    • Change the number of items shown per page from 25 to 1000
    • Left click and drag to select the full table of information displayed
    • Copy this to your clipboard ( <CTRL> C )
    • Switch over to Microsoft Excel
    • Right click on the first cell in the worksheet
    • Under Paste Special, select the Match Document Formatting icon
    • Add co-host emails to the bottom of the list
    • Delete all unneeded columns
    • File > Save As > Excel Workbook (*.xlsx)

  • STEP 2: Insert Zoom Breakout Room into Excel File
    • Insert an additional column to the Excel file and label it: Pre-assign Room Name.
    • Fill in the Pre-assign Room Name column with the breakout room name that coresponds to each email address. For Co-hosts, assign just ONE breakout room to each. They will have the ability to move between rooms after joining this initial room.
    • Save this as a CSV file--CSV UTF-8 (Comma delimited (*.csv).

      Pre-assign Room Name,Email Address

  • STEP 3: Import Breakout Room Assignments into Zoom
    • From Zoom, select Import from CSV to upload/import a CSV file.
    • Drag and drop the CSV file into Zoom's web portal.
    • Zoom will verify that each email address has a Zoom account.

ZOOM RESOURCES: Pre-Assigning Participants to Breakout Rooms

Allow Participants to Self-Select Breakout Rooms

If the host has allowed participants to self-select and join breakout rooms of their choosing, participants will be able to view and select from a list of breakout rooms the host has created. They will be able to enter and leave breakout rooms freely by . . .

  1. Clicking the Breakout Rooms option in your meeting controls. This will display the list of open breakout rooms created by the host.
  2. Clicking Join next to the Breakout Room you wish to participant in, then confirm by clicking Join again.
  3. Repeating as necessary to join other breakout rooms, or click Leave Room to return to the main session.

Note: Participants not joined with the desktop or mobile app (version 5.3.0 or higher) will not be able to self-select a breakout room. The host must facilitate moving these participants manually.

Not finding what you need? Try BbLearn's User Manual.
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