Utilizing breakout rooms in Zoom can encourage student engagement, discussion, group work, and academic achievement in online learning environments. As an instructor, you may find it helpful to consider pre-assigning students to specific groups or rooms before the start of class. The recommended instructional method for this activity would be to create the student groups and then have them self-assign themselves to your desired groups. More information on this instructional method can be found at this link:

For faculty who desire to use the pre-assignment method using the built-in Zoom tool, we have found that while it is technically possible to do so, there remains a variety of factors that must be met to be successful. At this time, we do not recommend using this feature unless the following requirements have been met.



  • Breakout rooms must be enabled in meeting settings.
  • Student must be joined to JMU License to appear in lookup dropdown.
  • Student must join via Desktop client app not web app for Zoom.
  • To pre-assign participants that are external Zoom users, import a CSV file.
  • Need to have separate CSV for those within JMU’s license and those outside our license.
  • Up to 200 participants can be pre-assigned to breakout rooms.
  • Student must join with the account assigned to the breakout room.
  • If you schedule recurring meetings, the pre-assigned breakout rooms will only work if applied to all meetings in the recurrence. You can't edit a single meeting in the recurrence and apply a unique pre-assignment.

Recovering to pre-assigned breakout rooms

After starting the breakout rooms, you can recover to the breakout rooms assignment you previously specified. It is useful if you changed your breakout rooms during the meeting or pre-assigned participants have joined the meeting after you joined the meeting or started breakout rooms.

  • Start the meeting with participants pre-assigned to breakout rooms.
  • Click Close All Rooms to end all breakout rooms.
  • Click Recreate, then Recover to pre-assigned rooms.

From Reddit:

NOTES: If people register and join the meeting after it has begun, they are not automatically sorted into the rooms as the instructions indicate. If they are registered and waiting (as in, actively waiting) for it to open before it is opened, they are assigned correctly when the meeting is opened.

To get them sorted correctly, you need to click on "Recreate" and then "Recreate pre-assigned rooms”. This will only work if you wait for everyone to be in the meeting before you "recreate" the breakout rooms.

Pre-assignment of breakout rooms via email addresses works, but you must recreate the breakout rooms right before you open them. Recreating after everyone has been moved to the rooms kicks them all out, so if more people trickle into the meeting after you have opened the breakout rooms, you need to assign them manually.

In Meeting

  • Only the host can assign participants to breakout rooms. The co-host can leave and join any breakout room only if they join a host's breakout room.
  • These numbers only apply to breakout rooms created during a meeting. Up to 200 participants can be pre-assigned to breakout rooms.
  • Self-select breakout Room - Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS The host can now create breakout rooms with the option for participants to self-select which breakout room they would like to join. If enabled, participants can move freely between breakout rooms without needing the host’s help. Both the meeting host and participants need to be on Client 5.3.0 or later to self-select breakout rooms.

Students with accounts

To find out if students are using their accounts, a user can go to Reports ---> Usage and click on the number of participants in a meeting link to get the participants' emails.  A user can also use this report as an alternative way of taking attendance.

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