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.  You can create up to 50 breakout rooms and assign up to a total of 200 participants. These rooms and assignments will be present every time you use that Zoom meeting room.  You can change the rooms and the students by following the instructions to create breakout rooms manually or automatically again at any point in the future.

Important Notes

Currently, you have to create breakout rooms and assign students as the LAST thing you do when setting up the meeting room.

If you make changes to the meeting room, such as adding an alternate host or adding a passcode, after setting up the breakout rooms, your breakout rooms will disappear.

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

Following a link from Canvas does not mean that you are logged in to Zoom. Students can either go to and log in before following the Zoom link or they can join the meeting from the Zoom desktop or mobile app where they are already logged in.

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

Breakout rooms currently do not work for students using Chromebooks.

Depending on your situation, it may be helpful to ask students with Chromebooks to join the Zoom meeting on a smartphone using the Zoom app if possible. Alternatively, students using Chromebooks can stay in the main meeting room and use that as their breakout room. There are two important things to be aware of in this situation.

  1. Anything said in the chat in the main room will be able to be read by all students when they leave the breakout rooms
  2. If you are recording, you will be recording whatever happens in the main room. Please pause the recording before starting breakout rooms if you have students staying in the main room.


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 on the Edit button to the right of the name of the meeting to which you would like to add the breakout rooms.
  3. Scroll down to Meeting Options and check the box next to “Breakout Room pre-assign.”

Create Breakout Rooms manually

If you need a small number of breakout rooms for a small number of students, you can do this manually. You can either just create a number of breakout rooms, or you can create breakout rooms and assign students to them.

  1. Click “+ Create Rooms.”
  2. Click the + to the right of “Rooms” to create a new room.
  3. Click the edit pencil icon to the right of the new room’s name to edit the name.
  1. If you are adding students to rooms, add students to each room by typing in their IU User ID and “” (for example, or Do not use a campus email address (i.e. or as Zoom will not recognize them.
  2. Click Save to close that window
  3. Click Save again to save the changes to your meeting room.

Create Breakout Rooms automatically

If you have a large number of students, it is easier to create rooms and add students by uploading the information. This is a 3-part process as you will need to get the list of your students’ email addresses from Canvas, paste them into a spreadsheet template that Zoom provides and add the room assignments, and upload that file to Zoom.

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.
  2. Click the Photo Roster button at the top right of the page and let the photo roster fully load.
  3. Once the page has loaded you will find a download button next to the title IU Photo Roster between the print button and the “open in new window” button.
  4. Click the download button to get a .csv file with your students’ IU email addresses.
  5. Open the .csv file in Excel, Google Sheets, or any other spreadsheet program. Your students will be listed in alphabetical order.

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, Google Sheets, or another spreadsheet program. 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 breakout room 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 as a CSV file.
    • On a Windows computer, use Save As and save the file in CSV UTF-8 format. There are other CSV options but UTF-8 tends to work more consistently.
    • On a Mac, save the file as a CSV file.
    • If you are using Google Sheets, download as a “comma-separated values (.csv, current sheet)” file.

Upload your template file

  1. Return to the CSV upload window on the Zoom website.
  2. Click “browse” to find your file and upload it (or drag it onto the window). You should then see your rooms and participants in the Breakout Room Assignment window.
  3. Click Save to save your new Breakout Room Assignments.
  4. 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. If your rooms do not look right, click “Recreate” at the bottom of the breakout room window and choose “Recover to pre-assigned rooms.”
  2. Assign any other students to the 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 who are assigned to a breakout room will see a message pop up asking them to join the breakout room.


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