Student Choice Breakout Rooms in Zoom

Want more flexible grouping options? Zoom will allow you to create a specific number of groups and students can choose for themselves which room they will join. Be sure to update to the most recent version of the Zoom Client External Link Icon  to use this feature.

Start Breakout Groups

When in a meeting, begin breakout rooms by selecting the Breakout Rooms icon at the bottom of the screen.

breakout rooms button within Zoom application

Once selected, a pop-up will appear asking how many rooms you want to create. Select the appropriate number of groups you would like. Choose "Let participants choose room." Then, select Create.

pop-up window for creating breakout rooms in Zoom showing options for the number of rooms and option to allow participants to choose a room

Note: "Let participants choose room" is a new feature as of October 2020. Everyone (including participants) needs to have their Zoom applications updated for it to work. If you don't see the option, update your application.

At this point, you can rename the rooms if you would like.

breakout rooms pop-up window with mouse hovering over white area to the right of Room 1 revealing the option to rename the roomRename each room by hovering over the white area to the right of the default room name. Click on Rename and type the new name. (Renaming has to be done by the Host, so this task might be too time-consuming to do during a live class.)

breakout rooms pop-up window with room names renamed to reflect the topic that will be discussed in each roomAfter you have renamed the rooms, students will more easily be able to identify the group they would like to join.

To begin breakout rooms, select Open All Rooms.

button to open all rooms

Student Choose Room

At this stage, students will see a list of available rooms and can select which room they would like to join. They will need to hover their mouse over the right edge of the room name, then click on Join. Finally, they will click, Yes.

student prompt to join a breakout room

Students Move Between Room

Students have the option of switching breakout rooms by clicking on the Breakout Rooms button, then clicking on Choose Breakout Room and selecting a new room from the list to join.

bottom of the page when student is in a breakout room with the breakout rooms button clicked and the choose breakout room button highlighted

Assign Student to a Room

The host (teacher) or co-host (TA) can move a student to a different room by hovering over his or her name and selecting which room you want him or her to join. (If students don't have an updated client, you will need to assign them to a group.)

screenshot of participants panel in Zoom with the options selected for an individual participant to move into a different group

Teacher Join Room

As the host, you will remain in the main meeting room while everyone else is split off. You can open the Breakout Rooms window again and join a group by selecting the blue Join button next to each room's title.

Note: If you are recording your class, it will follow your view as meeting host. If you join a breakout group, the recording will capture that breakout group.

Broadcast a Message

If you want to send a message to the entire group, Broadcast a message to all is a feature that will allow you to type a message to be sent to all of the groups. Find this at the bottom of the Breakout Rooms window.

close all rooms panel in Zoom

End Breakouts

Within the Breakout Rooms page, select the Close All Rooms on the bottom right to have participants return to the main meeting.

Tips for Using Breakout Rooms

Number of Rooms

You can use set-up up to 50 breakout rooms.

Monitoring Rooms

As the host, you can join one breakout room at a time. If you want to monitor students' progress across all rooms, set up a Google Doc that all students can edit and ask students to make notes as they work with their groups. You can see the progress of all the groups on the document. Share the link to the Google Doc in the chat and have students open it before breaking them out into groups because they won't have access to the main room chat when they are in their groups.

If you don't want groups to know what the other groups are discussing you can share a Google Doc with each group and open multiple windows to monitor their progress.


Cloud recordings will not record breakout rooms.