Using Zoom Breakout Rooms to Facilitate Online Mingling

Challenge – Mingling can be difficult in the online environment.  Sometimes learners have little control over who they speak to, for example when making breakout rooms, the teacher or the computer decides on the groupings.  The solution presented here is to use the ‘Let participants choose room’ function and a speaking exercise.  This will enable learners to move between rooms, mingle, and create a more dynamic and engaging lesson.

Tools Used – Zoom Breakout Rooms

An online class

Activity Outline

In this example, learners had a story with missing words (see below for documents relating to this activity).  First, they had to answer 6 personal questions and use their answers to fill in the missing words in the story.  Their answers made each story unique and funny.  Learners could then move between breakout rooms themselves, mingling and listening to each other’s stories.


Before the Activity:

1 – Teacher clicks the breakout room button and chooses the ‘Let participants choose room’ radio button.  Make plenty of rooms so learners can practise moving freely.

How to allow learners to choose their own breakout rooms

2 – Teacher shares screen with step-by-step slides to explain how everyone is going to move breakout rooms. Be aware that this can be different between phones and laptops, and these slides are made on a Mac laptop.   

3 – Practice moving to Room 1 and then Room 2 with learners. When everyone has moved to Room 1 and then Room 2, ask learners to practise moving to random rooms themselves.  You can see which learners are in each room under ‘Breakout Rooms’.

4 –  Close rooms and bring everyone back to the main session.

Example Activity: storytelling – adapted from

1 –  Ask the exercise questions in the main group, and make sure each learner has the story and their answers.

2 –  Assign learners in pairs to breakout rooms.   After swapping stories in one pair, learners can move rooms independently and talk with someone else.

3 –  Monitor the breakout rooms to see which learners are grouping together and how long they stay in one room.

See the file below for an example of how this method was used in an online class.

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