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School of Physics and Astronomy – computing
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Zoom Tips and Tricks

Allowing people to move between Zoom rooms §

Zoom breakout rooms (not to be confused with Zoom Rooms!) allow a Zoom meeting to be split up into subgroups for subgroup working, teams in a quiz etc. Normally participants can only go into the one room that has been assigned to them, and only the host can assign rooms (which can be done manually or randomly). However, there is an undocumented feature that allows people to move by themselves between rooms if they are made co-hosts of the meeting.

This can be useful for social occasions - you can set up multiple rooms (they can be renamed, so call them tables or whatever if you want) and people can roam around them. Note that co-hosts can also see who is in each room.

One thing to note is that people in the main meeting can only initially join the room they are assigned to. Once they are in the room, co-hosts can then move between the rooms as much as they want. If they move back to the main meeting they have to go through their assigned room first if they want to roam between the rooms again. In many cases it may be appropriate to create an initial room and assign everyone to it, and then the other rooms are used as the actual meeting spaces.

  1. Set up a Zoom meeting as normal. You can create the rooms when scheduling the meeting, and either leave them empty or pre-assign people to them (only for people with known accounts) You can also create them during the meeting.

  2. Start the meeting.

  3. Create the breakout rooms if necessary (see the menu bar at the bottom of the Zoom window). Note that you can rename the rooms here.

  4. Make the participants co-hosts (go down to the Using co-host in a meeting section).

    • Co-hosts, as the name implies, have a lot of control over the meeting, so this may not be appropriate for classrooms etc. In this case you could envisage students being assigned to rooms as normal, and a set of demonstrators given co-host privileges and roaming between the rooms.
    • This cannot be done if the participant is already in a room!
  5. Assign the participants to rooms. You can have the system do this randomly for all participants (useful for ice-breaking perhaps?) or manually. You may want to have a 'lobby' room or similar where everyone moves first, and then they can transfer to the actual meetings.

  6. The participants should now see the meeting rooms option. They can move to their assigned room. Once there, co-hosts can open the meeting rooms list, see who in in each room (but not who is in the main meeting) and join their desired room. They can move between rooms freely.

It should be noted that for large meetings this is somewhat of a burden on the host, as they have to elevate participants to co-host one by one - this can not be delegated. It is possible to hand the host role to someone else, so for long sessions this could be a way to spread the load.

There are some limitations on breakout rooms - see the documentation.

Written by Jamie Scott. Queries, corrections and suggestions for improvements welcome.