One challenge though has been the time needed to set up the rooms, especially if you want to manually assign your attendees to specific rooms. In the past this had to be done during the actual live meeting, which can take up time and be distracting when you are trying to work with your students.
Thankfully Google has now added an option to set up the breakout rooms ahead of time using Google Calendar.
See below for detailed directions on how to use this feature, as well as a short 6-minute video that demonstrates all the steps.
Tutorial Video (6 minutes)
Note: See all of my Google Meet help videos here:
Create the Google Calendar Event
Post by Eric Curts. Connect with me on Twitter at twitter.com/ericcurts
- First we will go to Google Calendar and either open an existing event or create a new one.
- In this example we will create a new calendar event and click on "More options" to edit it.
- We can now edit all of the normal event settings such as the title, duration, description, and more.
- We will then add a Google Meet to the event by clicking "Add Google Meet video conferencing".
Add Guests to the Event
- Next we will add our students or other attendees as guests for the event.
- To do this we will click in the "Add guests" box and type in their names or email addresses.
Note: If you only have a few attendees, that will work well, but if you have an entire class, it will probably be much easier to set up a group ahead of time in your Google Contacts. That way we can just type in the name of the contact group, and then all of the members of the group will get added at once.
Edit the Breakout Room Settings
- Now that we have the Meet and the attendees added to the event, we will want to pre-organize the breakout rooms.
- To do this we will click on the gear icon next to our Google Meet button.
- This will open a pop-up window where we can edit the settings for the meeting.
- We will now click on "Breakout rooms" to set those up.
Here we can adjust lots of setting for our breakout rooms:
- For example we can select the number of rooms we wish to create, from 2 to 100.
- As we change the number of rooms, our participants will be divided equally between them.
- We can also click the "Shuffle" button to randomly rearrange the students.
- And we can click the "Clear" button to remove everyone from the rooms (and then "Shuffle" can put them back.)
- We can also drag the students between rooms to rearrange them manually.
- If we prefer, we can rename the rooms to something that fits our activity.
- When we are all done, we will just click "Save" at the bottom.
One quick note, when we are in the settings for the Meet, we may also want to uncheck the box for "Quick access" in the Host Controls. With this unchecked, the host will have to join the Meet first, which will prevent your students from joining the Meet ahead of you.
- When we are all done, we still need to click "Save" for the calendar event which will give us the option to send out the invitations to all of our guests.
If we need to make changes later, we can always re-edit the calendar event and adjust the breakout room settings as needed.
Launch the Google Meet
- When it is time for the meeting to take place, we can simply click on the Google Meet link in the event to open and join the meeting.
- We can verify that the breakout rooms are already set up by clicking the "Activities" button in the top right, then clicking "Breakout rooms", then clicking "Set up breakout rooms".
- We will see that all of the rooms are ready to go and the students have been pre-assigned just like we had set up in the calendar event.
- We can always make manual changes to the breakout rooms if needed while in the Meet.
In this example we created a one-time meeting, but if desired you can make the calendar event be a repeating event, so you do not have to create it over and over again. Just be aware that anytime you change the breakout rooms settings for any calendar event in the series, it will change those settings for every event in the series, since it is a repeating event. So you can always make changes to the settings right before an upcoming event.
And that's it! By using Google Calendar we can set up breakout rooms ahead of time, so that our actual meetings go smoother and we can focus on teaching rather than managing settings.