To facilitate small group collaboration, you can create breakout groups that are separate from the main room and assign attendees to them.

If your session has more than 250 attendees in it, breakout groups is turned off.

Breakout groups have their own private audio, video, whiteboard, application sharing, and chat. Any collaboration that takes place in a group is independent of the Main room (and other groups).

What is said or viewed in a breakout room isn't captured in recordings.

Watch a video about breakout groups

The following un-narrated video provides a visual representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: Breakout Groups in Blackboard Collaborate with the Ultra experience shows you breakout groups in action.

Start breakout groups

You can choose to have Collaborate create and randomly assign breakout groups for you. Or you can create the groups yourself. Breakout groups are assigned during the session. You can't create them ahead of time or save them.

  1. Open the Share Content panel from the Collaborate panel.

    Not sure where the Collaborate panel is? Jump to Find Your Way Around.

  2. Select Breakout Groups.
  3. Assign groups. Select Randomly assign or Custom assignment.
    • Randomly assign: Collaborate creates groups and randomly assigns attendees for you.

      Randomly assign is only available when there are four or more people are in the room.

      • If you want to be in a group, select Include moderators in group assignment.
      • You can change how many attendees are in each group. Select the number of groups from the Number of Groups menu.
      • If you don't like how the attendees are grouped, select Reassign attendees.
    • Custom assignment: Create your own groups.
      • Assign attendees to a group. You can select the attendee's options menu and select the group. You can also select the attendee and drag them to the right group.
      • Select Create a new group to add more groups.

      You can create up to 20 groups. Breakout groups is only available in sessions with 250 or fewer attendees. There is no limit to the number of attendees you can put in each group. However, we recommend spreading attendees out evenly over your groups.

  4. Optionally, select Allow attendees to switch groups, if you want attendees to be able to move to another group on their own.
  5. Select Start.

Share files to breakout groups

You can share files, with one or more breakout groups.

  1. After starting breakout groups, select Share Files.
  2. Open the File options menu of the file you want to share.
  3. Select Share with groups.
  4. Choose the groups you want to share the file with.
  5. Select Share Now.

The first slide of the file displays in the breakout group.

You can also save group files to use later. Find the breakout group files and save them to the main room before logging out of the session.

More on saving breakout group files

Collaborate Timer


Set a timer and let your attendees know when you'll get started or how much time is left. Open the Collaborate panel, select Share Content and start the Timer.

If you are using breakout groups, set the timer in the main room. Everyone sees the timer. It doesn't matter what group they are in.

What can attendees do in breakout groups?

Breakout groups are designed for group collaboration. Every attendee in the group is a presenter. This means that all attendees can share the whiteboard, files, and applications with the rest of their group.

Make sure your browser supports application sharing

More on presenter permissions

Monitor groups

After breakout groups are started you can move between groups to monitor them. If you assigned yourself to a group, you see and hear what others in the group are doing. This includes any shared content, audio, video, and chat.

If you want to see how the other groups are doing, you need to join those groups. From the Attendees panel, select Join group.

Group chats are private to the group. The Everyone chat room is open to everyone, no matter what group you are in. As a moderator you also have a moderator only chat room.

Move attendees to another group

Moderators can move themselves between groups by selecting Join Group in the Attendees panel. You can also move other attendees.

  1. From the Attendees panel, find an attendee and select Attendee controls.
  2. Select Move to another group. This opens the Breakout groups panel.
  3. Move the attendee to another group. There are two ways you can do this.
    • Select the attendee's options menu and select the group.
    • Select the attendee and drag them to the new group.
  4. Select Update.

Can I remove someone from a session?

Yes. You can choose to move them back to the main room or to another group. Or you can choose to remove them completely from a session. Open the attendee's options menu from the Attendees panel. Select Remove from session.

What happens if another moderator makes changes to the groups?

If another moderator makes changes to the group before you select Update, your changes are lost. You are notified that another moderator made changes.

End breakout groups

When you want to stop breakout groups and bring everybody back to the main room, select End breakout groups. You can find this at the top of the Attendees panel or beside Breakout groups in the Share Content panel.

After you select End breakout groups, all attendees are moved back to the main room.

After the groups have ended everything shared in a group is not available in the main room. Give your attendees a few minutes warning that you are ending the breakout groups. Give them time to take a screen capture, or record in some other way, what they were working on before ending the groups.

Attendees panel

Share Files panel

Save files from breakout groups

You can also save group files to use later. Find the breakout group files and save them to the main room before logging out of the session.

  1. After ending breakout groups and before leaving the session, select Share Files.
  2. Open a group folder.
  3. Open the File options menu of the file you want to save.
  4. Select Move to main room files.

The group file is saved to the main room and can be used again.

Collaborate Breakout Groups and Recordings

Recordings and breakout groups

What is said or viewed in a breakout room isn't captured in recordings. Collaborate stops recording your session if all attendees leave the main room to join breakout groups. 

You can start your recording again from the Session Menu when one or more attendees return to the main room.

Helpful tips

Delete a single item on the whiteboard. The eraser button clears all annotations from a board/slide. Use the Select tool to select a single piece of annotation and then the backspace key (not the delete key) on your keyboard to delete just that selected piece.

Rotate content on the whiteboard. Use the Select tool to select an object, then select and drag the (very) small box that appears part way along the right hand side of the selection box.

Assign more than one attendee to a group at once. If manually populating breakout groups, you can hold down shift on your keyboard and select many attendees at once. Then drag and drop them into the relevant group. You can also select the “...” of each attendee's row and pick a group for them that way.

Allow late joiners to join a breakout group. To allow late attendees to join a breakout group, select Allow attendees to switch groups.

Helpful tips contributors

Amy Eyre (E-Learning Support Officer) | Programme Design and Learning Technology Team | University of York, UK

Helga Gunnarsdottir (Learning Technologist) | Learning Innovation Unit | The University of the West of England, UK