May 26, 2021

Break out of the classroom: How to use breakout rooms for interactive and interesting learning sessions

Teaching & training 4 min read last updated on: Jun 04, 2021

The break out of the classroom series is focused on giving you the best tips and tricks for teaching and training effectively in the digital, post-pandemic world. Whether you are upskilling or reskilling your employees to ensure a bright future for your organization or educating the leaders of tomorrow in a business school, Barco is here to support you.

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In the second article in the series, we are focusing on breakout rooms, a versatile tool in virtual teaching and training. A breakout room is a virtual space separate from the main online session, containing a small number of participants. Only those present can hear the discussion, read chat messages and share content, giving way to quality interaction and in-depth collaboration. 

The benefits of using breakout rooms 

Breakout room sessions help foster meaningful relationships among participants by creating opportunities for in-depth collaboration and positive interactions. Through their focused and active nature, they also encourage critical thinking and discussions, allowing for a thorough exploration of topics and productive brainstorming. 

Activities in breakout rooms, especially in a learning environment like a virtual classroom, help maintain the focus of participants or re-engage them, making the learning process interesting and efficient.  

From the teacher point of view, they can serve as a break from presenting to a large group, giving them the opportunity to assist and assess their participants more closely. They are a great tool for more introverted participants who might lack the confidence to share their thoughts in a larger group setting. Breakout rooms will make them feel more comfortable and open to speak up. 

Lastly, breakout rooms are also useful for targeted content  that’s of interest to some but not all participants across skill levels, experience or preferences.
If you have a powerful virtual classroom solution that offers an enhanced breakout room feature, even better. With Barco weConnect, the instructor can stay fully connected to the audience, keep visual contact and easily monitor participants. They can spot those asking for help and can still share content in the main room that will be visible while in breakout.  
Learners can freely collaborate and access shared breakout content, as well as the content from the main session. They can ask questions, chat with peers, answer polls and quizzes, draw or add pins to the whiteboard. 
To make the best out of the breakout rooms feature, we have listed below our favorite 5 breakout room activities that you should definitely try out. 

Top 5 activities for breakout rooms 

  1. Icebreakers. Since you will most likely have participants from several geographical areas that might have never met each other before, start the learning journey by making learners get to know each other more closely. 

  2. Problem solving. Present participants with a problem, such as a business case to be solved, and ask them to work together, brainstorm towards a solution and then present the results in the main session. 

  3. Situation based role-playing. Help learners improve their sales or customer skills by practicing them in breakout sessions in small groups of 2-3 people. Ask them to share in the main session what they learned. 

  4. Four corners debate. Share a statement with your participants and ask them to take a stance: strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree. Split them into breakout rooms based on their chosen stance and ask them to develop an argument. 

  5. Networking and socialization. Whether you´re setting 5-10 minutes more for an activity so people can chat, organizing an informal virtual quiz, apéro or speed networking session, use breakout rooms so participants can get to know each other better than in a larger group setting. 

While breakout rooms are a great tool in teaching and training, you also need to consider a series of best practices to ensure they run smoothly and successfully. To make the best out of breakout room sessions, we have listed 5 tips below. 

5 tips to make the best out of breakout rooms 

  1. Communicate in advance to your learners that you will be using breakout rooms. It will help them mentally prepare for collaborative, in-depth work and might even give them something to look forward to in the virtual learning session. 
  2. Time breakouts strategically. Make sure you are not hosting too many breakouts throughout the live learning session - 1 or 2 should suffice. Schedule them halfway through to have time to introduce the general concepts but also for clarifications and wrap-up at the end.
  3. Make the task clear. Ensure you give detailed explanations of the task learners have to complete, what the exact outcome should be as well as how long they have to work on it.
  4. Share instructions for the breakout activity where participants can easily access them when needed. The Barco weConnect virtual classroom solution allows participants to see the content shared in the main room while in breakout room.
  5. Assign 2 to 6 people per group for an optimal experience and encourage participants to take on roles in the breakout room: someone who will take notes, someone who will present the conclusions in the main session, etc.  

Barco weConnect offers real-life interaction and engagement 

With our enhanced breakout rooms, the Barco weConnect virtual classroom supports your efforts to create quality interaction and in-depth collaboration among your learners, while teaching and training remotely. 

The feature is designed for high-quality engagement and has been designed to overcome the challenges in the education and training world.  
Instructors stay fully connected to their audience while keeping a steady flow during the session. They can prepare the breakout rooms using several options of splitting participants. During sessions, they can keep visual contact with everyone, can spot participants asking for help and can share content in the main room – content that will be visible while in breakout. 
Learners can freely collaborate and access shared breakout content, as well as the content from the main session. They can easily switch between multiple available views. They can ask questions, including silent ones, chat with peers, answer polls and quizzes, draw or add pins to the whiteboard. 

Join one of our demo sessions or read more about how the Barco weConnect solution can enable flexible and engaging learning experiences that will deliver long lasting results in an interesting and interactive manner. 

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