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Instructors: How to pre-assign participants to Zoom Breakout Rooms

Zoom allows users to launch Breakout Rooms from a Meeting, which in turn provides spaces for smaller groups of participants within a larger Zoom Meeting to meet separately for group activities and conferencing. While you can create Breakout Rooms during a Meeting, Zoom also allows you to pre-assign participants to Breakout Rooms before the start of your meeting.

Keep in mind:

  • We strongly recommend pre-assigning your breakout rooms if you have a large number of students in your course, or you wish for your students to be in the same group each time you use breakout rooms.
  • You will need to make sure that your Canvas email address and your Zoom account's email address match. If the two accounts' emails do not match, please add your Zoom email address to your Canvas account and make it your default Canvas email. If they do not match, you will not be able to use pre-assigned breakout rooms in Zoom.
  • When scheduling your meeting, make sure to select the "only authenticated users can join" option. This is imperative to make the pre-assigned breakout rooms work - if students are able to join anonymously, then Zoom will not be able to assign them to a breakout room and you will have make room assignments manually during the meeting.
  • If you are working with a TA or other co-host and would like them to be able to move back and forth between breakout rooms themselves, you will need to remove their co-host permission after the meeting has started, and then re-assign them that role. If you do not do this, then you will have to manually move any co-hosts back and forth between breakout rooms.
  • During the meeting: Do not click the breakout rooms button until all your students have joined the Zoom meeting. If you do click it before everyone has joined the meeting, this will cause your pre-assigned breakout rooms to break. To get your pre-assigned breakout rooms to work in this instance, you will need to wait until all your students have joined the meeting, and then you will need to select Breakout Rooms again, select the Recreate button and select recover to pre-assigned breakout rooms

Accessing your Zoom Meeting through your individual FSU Zoom account

  1. Login to your FSU Zoom account by going to fsu.zoom.us and clicking the Sign In button under the Zoom heading. You may be asked to log in with your FSU credentials.

    For easy access to your individual Zoom account, enable My FSU Zoom on your Canvas course's navigation menu. This will also give your students access to their individual Zoom accounts.

    (Click image below to enlarge it)
    Location of Sign-In Button for Zoom within ITS Zoom login page.
  2. In the upper-left corner of your Zoom profile page, click the Meetings button.
    Link to access Meetings menu for your Zoom Account.
  3. This page contains all of the Zoom Meetings associated with your account, including ones you created within your Canvas course sites. You can schedule a new meeting or select a meeting you have already created.
    • To schedule a new meeting, select the Schedule a New Meeting (1) button on the top-left of the Meeting list.
    • To edit a meeting you have already created, select the blue Topic (2) link for that specific Meeting.
    (Click image below to enlarge it)
    Locations of 'Schedule New Meeting' button and an example of an already established Meeting link.
  4. If you chose to start a new Meeting, you will be taken to the Edit page for that new Meeting automatically. If you chose to edit a meeting that already exists, then you will need to click the Edit this Meeting button on the bottom-right of that Meeting’s details page to access the Meeting's Edit Settings menu. Make sure to select the Enable join before host option.
    Location of Edit this Meeting button.

Pre-Assigning Users to Breakout Rooms within the Zoom Website

Before you pre-assign users to Breakout Rooms, you will need each user’s FSU-issued email. These emails will usually be student @my.fsu.edu email addresses, but if you have graduate students in your course who may be TAs in other Canvas courses, or you wish to add TAs to any of the breakout rooms, this may be a student or staff/faculty (@fsu.edu) email address.

  1. On your meeting's Edit Settings menu, scroll down to the Meeting Options area and check both the Enable join before host box and the Breakout Room pre-assign box.
    Location of Breakout Room pre-assign option.

  2. You have two options for pre-assigning Meeting participants to Breakout Rooms that will be visible when you select this option: You can use the Create Rooms option to directly assign users to the Breakout Rooms via the Zoom website’s interface, or you can use the Import from CSV command to upload a specifically formatted CSV file to the site.

Quick tip: Not sure which method to choose? 

Directly assigning users to Breakout Rooms via the Zoom website's interface

Before starting this process, we recommend that you get a list of your students' email addresses first. This will make manually assigning students to Breakout Rooms much easier.

This section will discuss using the direct site menu to add users to Breakout Rooms.

  1. Click the + Create Rooms link. This will open up a pop-up menu that will allow you to both create Breakout Rooms and also assign users to them.
    Location of button for creating pre-assigned Breakout Rooms within Zoom web menu.
  2. Once you have the Breakout Room Assignment window visible, you will see that this window is divided into two columns. Click the + icon next to "rooms" on the left to create a single Breakout Room.
    Location of button to add additional Breakout Room to account.
  3. You will see the room you just created listed on both the left and right columns. To edit the name of the Breakout Room, select the specific Breakout Room name in the left column. Then, click on the name of the room in the right column and type out a new name.
    Locations of both Breakout Room list and area to add new participants to each Room.
  4. To add participants to a given Breakout Room, go to the Add participants box and type in their FSU email address. Then, hit Enter/Return on your keyboard to save that user to the Breakout Room. 
    Remember, FSU student emails are @my.fsu.edu addresses. If you have a TA or co-instructor you would like to assign to a breakout room, they may have an @fsu.edu address.
    Location of text entry box for adding a participant's email to the Breakout Room list.
    Zoom will notify you if the email you entered does not have an account associated with it, and in that case you may want to check with that user for alternate emails.
  5. You can add additional Breakout Rooms to your Meeting and assign additional participants to each as necessary. When you have finished creating all the Breakout Rooms that you want to use, click the Save button.
    Location of Save button for saving changes to Breakout Room assignments.
  6. Click the Save button at the bottom of the Meeting Settings edit menu.
    Location of Save button within main Meeting editing screen.

Pre-Assigning Users to Breakout Rooms with a CSV upload

Before starting this process, we recommend that you get a list of your students' email addresses first. This will make formatting your Breakout Rooms CSV file much easier.

  1. Click the Import from CSV button on the Meeting Settings edit menu.
    Location of CSV import option for Breakout Room pre-assignment.
  2. Click the download link in the pop-up window that appears in order to download a .csv template for Breakout Room pre-assignments. You will want to save this .csv template to your device.
    Location of download link for CSV template for Breakout Room pre-assignment
  3.  Open up the .csv file you just downloaded. You will see two columns present, one (Column A) that reads “Pre-assign Room Name” and another (Column B) that reads “Email Address”, along with some filler text for a few rows under the title cells. These cells demonstrate how the .csv file should be formatted to properly pre-assign participants to a given Breakout Room.
    Example of the CSV Breakout Room template with filler assignments.
  4. To add a user to a given Breakout Room, you will want to put the desired Breakout Room’s name in Column A (starting with Row 2) and their FSU email address in the same row in Column B. Do not replace the title cells in Row 1.
    Example of CSV file for Breakout Room assignments.
  5. To add multiple users to a room, you will need to type each individual user’s email in a different row in Column B while putting the same Room Name in Column A, as demonstrated below. As long as the Room Name spelling is the same between users, Zoom will group those users together in the same Breakout Room with that name.
    Example of multiple participant assignments within CSV file for a single Breakout Room.
  6. To add another Room and assign users to it, simply use a different Room Name in Column A for each user. Again, ensure the Room Name spelling is consistent between users for that room.
    Example of multiple participant assignments and multiple Breakout Rooms in CSV file.
  7. Once you have finished entering in all of your Room assignments, save the .csv file to your device.
  8. Return to the Zoom menu in your browser. You can either drag and drop the newly created .csv file into the pop-up menu or use the browse link to locate the file in your device’s storage. Once you have selected the .csv file, Zoom should automatically create Breakout Rooms and assign users based on the contents of that .csv file.
    Location of upload area for CSV template.
    You can use the Breakout Room menu within the Zoom website interface to further edit the imported rooms and user assignments.
  9. Make sure to select Save in the bottom right corner.
  10. Click the Save button at the bottom of the general Meeting Settings edit menu to save your changes to the Meeting as a whole.
    Location of Save button within general edit page for the Zoom meeting.

Using Pre-Assigned Breakout Rooms in a Meeting

Once you have set Breakout Room pre-assignments for a Meeting, the Rooms will automatically be created when you start the Meeting. The Rooms will start out empty and will gradually be populated as assigned participants enter the meeting.

Keep in mind: You are not locked into using the pre-assigned Breakout Rooms in your meeting. You can freely create and delete Breakout Rooms as well as change participant assignments using the Breakout Rooms menu within the Meeting Settings.

  1. After all your students have joined the meeting, click the Breakout Rooms button on the bottom row of your Zoom Meeting interface to see your pre-made rooms.Location of Breakout Rooms menu option within a Zoom session.

    Keep in mind: If you click the Breakout Rooms button before all your students have joined, this will cause your pre-assigned breakout rooms to break. You will need to wait until all your students have joined the meeting, and then you will need to select Breakout Rooms again, select the Recreate button and select recover to pre-assigned breakout rooms.

  2. The Breakout Rooms menu should appear in a pop-up window. From here, you can create additional Rooms, delete rooms, and shift participants around your rooms in the same way you would manage Breakout Rooms created during the Meeting.
  3. If you wish to switch back to your default Breakout Room assignments, or empty all existing Breakout Rooms for re-assignment, then click the Recreate button in the bottom left of this menu.
    Location of Recreate button within Breakout Rooms menu within Zoom session.
  4. You can either default back to the pre-assignment Breakout Rooms and their participant assignments by clicking Recover to pre-assigned rooms, or empty all current Breakout Rooms by clicking Recreate all rooms.
    Please Note: Recreating all rooms will also change the Breakout Room names back to the default Breakout Room 1, Breakout Room 2, Breakout Room 3, etc., naming convention.
    Locations of Recover and Recreate buttons for Breakout Rooms within Zoom session.

Additional Resources

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