Pre-Assigning Zoom Breakout Rooms

Breakout rooms are very useful tool for small-group discussion or project work within a class period, but they can be complicated to set up in the middle of a Zoom meeting. It is possible to pre-assign students to breakout rooms beforehand, but you and your students will need to do a little work in advance.

Prepping Your Students

For pre-assignments to work, students will need to create, and be logged into, their UMW Zoom account before joining the meeting.

Note that logging into Canvas does not automatically log your students into their Zoom account. You may want to direct students to our guide on Creating and Logging into Your UMW Zoom Account.


Creating Your Meeting

To ensure your students are logged into their account when joining the meeting, you can enable “Only authenticated users can join” under Meeting Options when creating your meeting. This will require all students to sign into their UMW Zoom account before joining the meeting.

Note that enabling this feature will require students to log into Zoom using the desktop client or the mobile app. The web version of Zoom is not supported when authentication is turned on.

Screenshot of the check box to only allow authenticated users to join



Pre-assigning Breakout Rooms

With the above prerequisites in place, you are ready to create and pre-assign your breakout rooms. Zoom has a detailed guide on pre-assigning breakout rooms in their support documentation.

Note that you must use students’ email address to link the breakout room assignments with their UMW Zoom accounts.


Alternative Solution – Allow Students to Choose Their Own Breakout Room

Zoom now has the option to allow participants to choose their own breakout room. You may find this to be an easier solution than pre-assigning. Using this option, you could simply share instructions (via Canvas, in a Word doc, Excel spreadsheet, etc.) telling students which room they should join, bypassing all of the set-up and authentication issues that pre-assignment requires.

You can select this option when creating the breakout rooms in your meeting.
Screenshot showing the steps to let participants choose their own breakout room
You will need to update your Zoom client to version 5.3 before you can use this feature. If you do not see this option when creating breakout rooms, follow these steps to update:
  1. From the Zoom client dashboard, click your profile picture
  2. Click “Check for Updates”
screenshot showing the update instructions explained above