Problems with Pre-Assigned Breakout Rooms

Zoom has the ability to assign students to breakout rooms pre-assigned by the instructor.  While helpful, this feature is not without its flaws, and many instructors may discover that only a portion of their students are assigned to the breakout rooms as expected.  Those students who do not get assigned to a pre-assigned breakout room will need to be added manually by the instructor.


The most common reason that students don’t get assigned to their respective breakout room is that they do not authenticate to the Zoom meeting in a way that allows pre-assign breakouts to work.  Because instructors are adding students to the breakout rooms based on their email account, those students who:

  • Join via a different account that is not tied to their email will not get pre-assigned to the breakout room
  • Join via the web client will not get pre-assigned to the breakout room.  It is recommended that participants use the desktop client or mobile app and only use the web client if they can't access the other options.
  • Join the Zoom meeting after the instructor starts the breakout rooms, will not get pre-assigned to the breakout room.  Those students will need to be manually assigned to the breakout room or assigned using the recover to pre-assigned rooms under the Recreate menu. 

Unfortunately, not all students will join the Zoom meeting the same way, so some will be added to the pre-assigned rooms while others are not.

Instructions for Students

If you continue to use the pre-assigned breakout rooms please understand that you will have many cases where students are not logged in correctly for pre-assign to work—we cannot guarantee a successful outcome.  The best you can do is to provide the following instructions to students to increase the chance that they authenticate correctly for pre-assign to work:

  1.  Open the Zoom App (mobile or desktop) that you plan to use to join the meeting and LOGOUT
  2.  Visit this page to download and install the most recent version of Zoom for your device: 
  3. Open the newly installed Zoom App to locate the "Sign In" section and choose the option for "SSO"
  4.  For the company domain enter "syracuseuniversity" and use the webpage that appears to login to your SU account with your SU NetID and Password
  5. Go to the link provided by your instructor and click it to join the meeting, allowing the page to open the Zoom app if requested.

ITS has found that pre-assigned breakout rooms work if the user is correctly logged in on the client they use to join the meeting. Logging in the client is a separate step from logging into Blackboard or the Zoom webpage and can be confusing.  However,

Recommended Alternative

The suggested alternative is to use the self-select breakout rooms feature of Zoom which will allow participants to choose which breakout room they want to be in. Zoom has updated its Breakout Room feature to allow users to self-select breakout rooms using the following:

  • Desktop client or mobile app: version 5.3.0 or higher.
  • ChromeOS: version 5.0.0 (4241.1207) or higher 

Our recommendation is that instructors and students to update to the latest version of Zoom and Chrome whereby students will have the ability to self-select their breakout room.  Many instructors prefer the option of using the self-select instead of pre-assignment, which is less reliable. Instructions for participants to use this feature are found on Zoom's documentation website.

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