Group work and break out rooms

Group work can be highly engaging and educationally productive when skillfully integrated into learning experiences. It is possible to provide collaborative experiences for students whether they are on-campus or online. 

Asynchronous groups

Asynchronous groups will be working together on a project or document when they are 'separate' from each other (not synchronously). Teaching staff can easily divide students into groups to allow for the creation of group-based activities and assessments. In the Blackboard space groups can be created in sets (where all students are allocated membership of a group), or single groups (which may include specific subsets of the students). Groups have their own area where interaction and assessment tools can be located specifically for the facilitation and assessment of the collaborative efforts of the group members.

Blackboard Help for groups

Synchronous groups

Setting up breakout groups (in Collaborate)

  1. Access the Share Content panel and click on Breakout Groups.
  2. Use Custom assignment to organise the groups with a drag-and-drop interface.
  3. Click Start.
  4. Click the down chevron for each group to view group members.
  5. Click the Stop icon to bring everyone back to the main room. This deletes the breakout groups. Remember any work done in those rooms will be lost.
  6. You can also create randomly assigned groups where Collaborate randomly assigns students into each group. In large classes, this is the preferred option as it is less time-intensive. The steps are the same as above except you choose Random assignment instead of Custom assignment.

Putting files into a breakout group

  • You can upload all of the files that you want to share with the groups into the main share file area.
  • Go to the file that you want to share, click on the 3 dots in the circle and click Share with groups. This option may not show up immediately as it takes a bit of time for Blackboard to register the groups.
  • When students enter into their groups the slide will be up in the classroom. You may want to provide direction to them on how to use these files and the other features – whiteboard and share applications – but make these available prior to the students working in their groups.

Why use breakout groups?

Teaching strategies for group work 


Use the group as a way for the team to brainstorm a question or an idea so they have a working format of how they will address it. This is a good starting point for any group work.


Use the breakout groups for students to find articles and share them. They can use this space to answer a specific question that requires answers backed by references.


Use the breakout group’s chat as a place for students to share their opinions or views on specific topics or issues. They can then come up with two or three things they will bring back to the main room to share.


Provide students with a slide with a problem on it that they need to solve. It can be mathematical, technical or hands-on. Ask them to come up with a solution that will then be presented back to the class.  

Saving work done in a breakout group

Because you cannot record in the breakout rooms, students will need to take a screenshot print screen/snip it.

Or, as the moderator, you can visit each of the breakout rooms and grab a screenshot of their work to share in the main classroom.


CTL teamwork guide

Blackboard has a comprehensive article about breakout groups

(Please note - it's better to refer to the Online version rather than export, as it's always up to date)