Creating Zoom Breakout Rooms in Advance

If you like, you can create and name a set of breakout rooms for a specific Zoom meeting room in advance. You can also pre-assign students to those breakout rooms.  Note that students must be logged in to Zoom to be automatically moved to their assigned breakout room. These rooms and assignments will be present every time you use that Zoom meeting room. 

You can create up to 50 breakout rooms and assign up to a total of 200 participants.


Turn on Breakout Rooms in Zoom

  1. Go to and log in
  2. Go to Settings on the left navigation
  3. Click on “In Meeting (Advanced)”
  1. Click to toggle button to turn on breakout rooms (if not already enabled)
  2. Check the box next to “Allow host to assign participants to breakout rooms when scheduling” and click Save
  1. Scroll back up to the top and click on Meetings
  2. Click “Schedule a New Meeting” or click on the name of an existing meeting, scroll to the bottom of the meeting settings, and click the “Edit this Meeting” button
  3. Scroll down to Meeting Options and check the box next to “Breakout Room pre-assign”

Make Persistent Breakout Rooms only

  1. If you just want to make named rooms that will always show up when you use this meeting room, click “+ Create Rooms.” If you want to make breakout rooms and add students to them, see the section below
    1. Click the + to the right of “Rooms” to create a new room.
    2. Click the edit pencil icon to the right of the new room’s name to edit the name.
    3. IMPORTANT: You cannot pre-assign people to breakout rooms in the Create Rooms tool. It looks like you can, but it will not save.
  1. Click Save to close that window
  2. Click Save again to save the changes to your meeting room.

Make Persistent Breakout Rooms and add Students to them


Everyone has to be logged in to Zoom to be automatically moved to their assigned breakout room.

If you have linked your Zoom room to your Canvas site as an External Tool, students following that link will automatically be logged in via Canvas. See “Use Zoom in Canvas” in the IU Knowledge Base for instructions on linking Zoom to your Canvas site as an external tool.

If you have only given your students a link to your room, they need to log in at before following that link to be automatically placed in their proper breakout room.

Students that arrive in your Zoom meeting room without being logged in can be manually added to the proper breakout room.

Get student email addresses

To add students to breakout rooms, you need a list of their email addresses. You can download this information in the Canvas Photo Roster tool.

  1. Go to the People tool and click on “Photo Roster” at the top right
  2. Click the download icon at the top of the Photo Roster
  1. Open the roster file in Excel

Edit the Breakout Room file template

Once you have your roster, go back to the Zoom meeting settings.

  1. Click “Import from CSV”
  2. Download the file template by clicking the “download” link at the top of the window that pops open
  1. Open the template file in Excel. The template has only two columns, one for the name of the breakout room and one for the students’ email addresses.
  1. Go to your roster file. Highlight and copy the column containing your students’ email addresses
  1. Paste that column into the “Email Address” column on the template
  2. Type or paste in the name of the group each student is assigned to in the “Breakout Room pre-assign” column. You must have a breakout room name next to each student’s email address for the student to be assigned to a group.
  3. Save the edited file.
    1. On a Windows computer, use Save As and save the file in CSV UTF-8 format. There are other CSV options but only UTF-8 will work.
    2. On a Mac, save the file as a CSV file.
    3. If you are using Google Sheets, download as a “comma-separated values (.csv, current sheet)” file.
  4. Return to the CSV upload window and click “browse” to find your file and upload it (or drag it onto the window).
  5. You should then see your rooms and participants in the Breakout Room Assignment window.
  6. Click Save to save your new Breakout Room Assignments.
  7. Click Save again to save the changes to your meeting room.

Turn on Breakout Rooms in your Meeting

  1. When your Zoom meeting room is open and your students are there, click the “Breakout Rooms” button at the bottom of the Zoom window.
  1. This will display the breakout rooms list. All students who are present and logged in will show up in their assigned breakout room. Assign any other students appropriate breakout room by clicking “Assign” to the right of the breakout room name (these would be people who entered your meeting room not logged in).
  1. Click “Open All Rooms” and students will be dispersed to the breakout rooms you have created.


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