Using breakout rooms effectively

After creating a session, you can use a variety of tools to engage students and complete group work. One of these tools is the breakout rooms.

Watch the Video overview to see how to do this.

You will need to...

Setting up breakout groups

1. Access the Share Content panel (1) and Click on Breakout Groups (2).

2. Use Custom assignment to organise the groups with a drag-and-drop interface (3).

3. Use Custom assignment to organise the groups with a drag-and-drop interface (3).

4. Click Start (4).

5. Click the down chevron (7) for each group to view group members.

6. Click the Stop icon (5) to bring everyone back to the main room. This deletes the breakout groups. Remember any work done in those rooms will be lost.

7. 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 and 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.

Typical uses for breakout groups


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.

Problem solving

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 screen shot of their work to share in the main classroom.

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