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If your instructional design calls for small group discussions and activities, you'll be glad to discover that WebEx Training Center allows you to divide participants into subgroups or breakout sessions in which they'll have all the features of a regular WebEx session, but in small groups. Breakout groups take a few minutes to set up and can be challenging for participants to use, especially if they're not familiar with things like uploading files, Application or Desktop Sharing, Whiteboard tools, or managing audio controls.
Be sure to provide a tutorial on these features and clear instructions for the activity before you send participants to the breakout sessions. Breakouts are best used for challenging activities that require group discussion and problem solving and will take longer than 10 or 15 minutes. If your activity is shorter than 10 minutes, you might find that you spend more time getting into and out of the breakouts than you spend using the breakouts. In that case, please consider completing the activity with the whole group instead.
This next activity requires us to have breakout groups set up and available in the Participant view. By default, Breakout group panels do not show on the right side of the Presenter's screen. I'll choose More options and controls from above the panels on the right side of my screen. Then I'll choose manage panels. I'll click in the Available panels list on the left side and select Breakout Session. And then click Add to add Breakout Sessions to the panels available on the right side of my screen.
When I click OK, I now have a Breakout Session panel button at the top of my screen. When I click the Breakout Session button, the Breakout Session panel opens below. From here, I'll click the Breakout Assignment button to open a window that gives me the opportunity to add sessions and assign attendees to those sessions. I'll start by clicking the Add Session button, and by default the first session is numbered Breakout session 1. I'll click Add Session again to create Breakout session number 2, I'll click Add Session again to create Breakout session number 3.
In order to move participants into the breakout groups, I'll choose each attendee name on the left side of the screen, then select the breakout room number on the right, and I'll click this arrow button that points to the right to assign this participant to this group. Continue to do those steps until every participant is separated into the Breakout session. I'll move Bob to Breakout session number 1. I'll move Greg to Breakout session number 2.
I'll move Joe to Breakout session number 2. I'll move Liz to Breakout session number 1 and I'll move Sue to Breakout session number 2. Because I have a small group of participants today, I'll opt not to use breakout session 3. I can also put a Panelist or Presenter into the breakout group to serve as a support person for the participants as they start. But notice by default, the first person I moved to the breakout group has been given the designation of Presenter.
When the Breakout groups begin, these participants will have access to the WebEx tool, the same way a Presenter typically has access. But because they'll be in their own session room, their activities will occur independently of each other. When I click on OK I see the names organized in the breakout session panel in the lower right corner of my screen. But participants have not yet been moved to the breakout groups. As I scroll down, you can see that each participant is displayed in the group that they were assigned to.
You want to make sure you set up participants in their Breakout sessions at the beginning of your class or allow yourself a few minutes on a break or prior to the start of the Breakout sessions so that you can assign people to the appropriate groups with plenty of time. It is possible for you to create Breakout assignments prior to the start of your WebEx session, but participants will need to have registered for the session so that you can see the names that will be used. Before you send participants to the Breakout groups, be sure to give them clear instructions about what they'll do when they get into the sessions.
For instance, Agnes and Greg will have leadership roles and will be expected to complete activities on behalf of the group. Once the breakout activity is over, they'll also be expected to report back to the group and share the results of their assignment. So make sure they know what their assignment is and how to complete the activities. For this activity, I want to give my participants instructions about what they'll do with their Excel Worksheet.
This assignment has them creating formulas, copying formulas, totaling, saving the file, and then reporting back to the whole group. In this case, I'll also want my leaders to have access to an Excel file that they can work with directly. I can use File Transfer to load the file and allow them to download the file on their local machines. I'll go to the File menu and choose Transfer; I'll click Share File to select the file that needs to be shared.
I'll navigate to the file and then remind participants to click on the Breakout Activity filename and click the Download button. So Greg and Agnes, please be sure to click the filename listed and click Download to save that file to your local drive. When you're finished, close the window. Once the participants have completed the assignment, you'll want to End All to bring participants back to the main session room.
So I am going to click the End All button. The screen will change for the participants and when we are back in the main room it'll be useful for us to debrief the activity to discuss what went well and what questions the participants still have at this time. Provided Greg uploaded the Excel file to his Breakout Session room, we'll be able to bring the content into this main room by using the Breakout > Share Breakout Session Content.
Select the Presenter whose content you want to share and click on OK. You'll see a dialog box that says, A request has been sent to Greg Thomas to share breakout session content. I'll click Yes. The participant will have a dialog box that says You've been asked to share your content. He'll choose the file to share by clicking on the check box to the left of the filename and click on OK. In the main room I now see a new tab across the top of the screen with Greg's file displayed.
And by clicking that tab, I now see the content from Greg's session room. And I can see that Greg and his team Chris and Sue got the assignment right. So at this point I can wrap up the activity, I can review things that may have been confusing to the participants. I might talk about the formatting of this cell; I might also want to call on Agnes to share the content from her session room. So using Breakouts is an excellent way to give participants an opportunity to work in small groups, to complete a task, and to report back to the main group when they're finished.
Remember, it does take a bit of setup. Only use breakout activities for those assignments that warrant the setup necessary.
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