Internal - Faculty & Staff

Breakout Rooms and Group Activities

Breakout rooms allow groups of two or more to meet and collaborate during a larger live online session. The facilitator can assign one or more participants to breakout rooms to complete group work, collaboration exercises, discussions, and more. They are ideal for training sessions in which teams or groups must work with specific content – analyzing a case study, for example.

Breakout Rooms

Breakout rooms can be used to create interaction or collaboration by making your content more learner-centered. Small group activities help to create working relationships between participants, and allow for true creativity and application of knowledge.

Using breakout rooms can be what makes your training effective because it demonstrates that the virtual classroom can be used to obtain real training results. 

  1. This tool is different than chat.  Participants can talk via their microphones and headsets, and can collaborate using tools like whiteboards, chat, and application sharing.
  2. Different groups can work with different content or on different exercises from one breakout room to the next. In classes with a range of expertise among participants, a facilitator can sort participants by expertise and send them to separate breakout rooms, each with its own assistant facilitator to moderate.
  3. The facilitator can move from breakout room to breakout room to work with groups or with individuals as needed.  However, it is common that participants won’t have a facilitator in a breakout room. That means instructions for breakout rooms must be very clear. Instructions should be both in participant guides and copied into the chat area before sending participants to their respective breakout room activities.

Virtual Classroom Tool Design Basics: Breakout Rooms. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://blog.insynctraining.com/virtual-classroom-tool-design-basics-breakout-rooms

Facilitating a Virtual Class Using Breakout Rooms

When preparing a face-to-face lesson, you generally facilitate the class by starting with an introduction, then move on to the lecture, and then end with a discussion.  In a virtual classroom, you will want to “chunk” the content into smaller bits of information.  For example, you might break up the content as follows:

Introduction
Lecture Part 1
Checkpoint Questions
Lecture Part 2
Checkpoint Questions
Lecture Part 3
Discussion

However, when designing your virtual class, you will also want to consider when you can effectively use Breakout Rooms to maximize the learning.  For example, consider including Breakout Rooms after each lecture, as shown below. In this way, your Checkpoint Questions will measure the success of the breakout activity.

Introduction
Lecture Part 1
Breakout Room
Checkpoint Questions
Lecture Part 2
Breakout Room
Checkpoint Questions
Lecture Part 3
Discussion

Using Adobe Connect for Breakout Rooms

When using Adobe Connect for your virtual classroom, using Breakout Rooms will help the students feel more engaged and allow greater collaboration.  From a faculty perspective, Breakout Rooms allow the facilitator to maintain control over the virtual classroom.

Below are some basic tips for using Adobe Connect Breakout Rooms:

  • Define breakout rooms and assign members
    • While in a meeting or training session, hosts can create breakout rooms and send attendees into the rooms.
  • Begin a breakout session
    • In breakout rooms, attendees are automatically assigned the role of presenter. This gives them all presenter rights such as sharing their voice, sharing content in the Share pod, modifying whiteboards, and adding text to the Notes pod. When attendees are returned to the main room, they revert to their prior status.
  • Visiting breakout rooms
    • When breakout rooms are in use, hosts can visit different rooms, including the main room.
  • Send a message to all attendees in breakout rooms
    • Hosts can broadcast messages to all breakout rooms. This can be useful if you have noticed one or more rooms have a similar question. It is also a good practice to send attendees in breakout rooms a warning message a few minutes before ending breakout sessions and returning them to the main room. This allows attendees to finish speaking, loading files, and working on the whiteboard before a breakout sessions ends.
  • Communicate attendee status in breakout rooms
    • Either with or without the Host present, use the options in the Attendee Status View  of the Attendees pod. For example, ask a question and ask the attendees to respond by using the status options Agree or Disagree.
  • Conduct a poll in breakout rooms
    • Hosts can conduct separate polls in each individual breakout room by placing themselves in the rooms and opening Poll pods.
  • Asking and answering questions in breakout rooms
    • Attendees in breakout rooms can ask hosts a question at any time, whether a host is in their breakout room or not.
  • Chatting in breakout rooms
    • If the Chat pod is available in the breakout room, use chat to communicate with others in your room only. You cannot chat with attendees in different breakout rooms.
  • End a breakout session
    • Only hosts can end a breakout session. When breakout rooms are closed, all attendees are returned to the main meeting room.

Using Citrix GoToMeeting for Breakout Rooms

GoToMeeting does not allow for conventional “Breakout Rooms” (such as Adobe Connect’s version of Breakout Rooms).  With GoToMeeting, you must create a separate – unique – GoToMeeting event for each breakout room you want. As a result, the host (facilitator) is unable to pop in and out of each breakout room, as each room is a separate GoToMeeting event.  When using GoToMeeting for Breakout Rooms, the facilitator will have to give very clear and concise instructions for the students (i.e., how to access each GoToMeeting event, how long they have in their breakout session, and when they should exit that session and return to the main session).