Collaborative learning offers many benefits over traditional instruction. Studies show that when students work as a team, they develop positive attitudes, solve problems more effectively, and experience a greater sense of accomplishment.

You can organize students into groups so they can interact with each other and demonstrate their knowledge while they learn to appreciate the perspective of others.

You can create course groups one at a time or in sets.


Access course groups

Doesn't seem familiar? Jump to the "Ultra" help about accessing groups.

In the Original Course View, each group has its own homepage with links to tools to help students collaborate. Only you and group members can access the group tools.

In the Control Panel, expand the Users and Groups section and select Groups. On the Groups page, you can view and edit your existing groups, and create new groups and group sets.


Group enrollment methods

You can enroll students in groups in three ways. Students can't unenroll themselves from groups.

  • Manual Enroll allows you to assign each student in your course to a group. Manual enrollment is available for both single groups and group sets.
  • Random Enroll is available for group sets only. Random enrollment automatically distributes students into groups based on your settings for maximum members per group or total number of groups. Random distribution applies only to students who are currently enrolled in your course. You can enroll additional students manually.
  • Self-Enroll allows students to add themselves to a group with a sign-up sheet. Self-enrollment is an option available for both single groups and group sets.

More on choosing a group enrollment method


Student access to course groups

Students can access groups in two ways:

  • In a new course, select the Groups link on the course menu.
  • In the course menu, go to Tools > Groups.

More on the best ways to present groups


Create a single course group

  1. On the Groups page, select Create.
  2. In the Single Group list, select Self-Enroll or Manual Enroll.
  3. Type a name and optional description. Make the group visible to students.
  4. Select the check boxes for the course tools you want to make available to the group.
  5. If you want to grade student submissions for blogs, wikis, and journals, select the Grade option and type Points possible.
  6. Select the check box for Allow Personalization to let students add personal modules to the group homepage. Modules are only visible to the group member who added them.
  7. Optionally, select the check box to create a smart view for this group.

Enroll students in a course group

  1. If you chose Self-Enroll, type a name and provide instructions. You might tell students that they can't unenroll themselves from groups. Type the Maximum Number of Members and select any other options you want to include.

    -OR-

    If you chose Manual Enroll, search for and select students from the Add Users pop-up window.

    Your selected group members appear in the bottom area with a number showing the total count. Select the Show List icon, represented by a full square, to open the Add Users area to view your selections. To remove users, select the X next to their names.

  2. Select Submit.

The newly created group appears on the Groups listing page.


Create a group set

  1. On the Groups page, select Create.
  2. In the Group Set list, select Self-Enroll, Manual Enroll, or Random Enroll.

Use the same steps as when you create a single group. Then, based on the enrollment option you choose, you can choose from these options:

  • Self-Enroll: Type a name and instructions for the group. Enter the Maximum Number of Members and select any other options you want to include.
  • Random Enroll: Type the Number of Students per Group or the Number of Groups you want to create. Select an option to Determine how to enroll any remaining members in the groups.
  • Manual Enroll: Type the Number of Groups to create. On the next page, select Add Users for each group to make your selections.

    Your selected group members appear in the bottom area with a number showing the total count. Select the Show List icon, represented by a full square, to open the Add Users area to view your selections. To remove users, select the X next to their names.

Disabled users are counted in the overall group enrollment total until the course membership or users are purged.


Remove a group member

You can remove members from a course group.

Only course instructors and administrators can remove group members. Students can't remove themselves from a group or other students from student-created groups.

  1. On the Groups page, select Edit Group in the group's menu.
  2. On the Edit Group page, select the X in a member's row to remove the user from the group. Select Remove All Users to delete all members from a group.
  3. Select Submit.

The group member is now removed from the group. To verify that a user has been removed, go to the group homepage to check the list of members.

More on managing and deleting groups


Email a course group

You can use the group email tool to efficiently communicate with other members or the group as a whole. When you get ready to send a message, the tool automatically populates the recipient list with group members so you can quickly select all or some of them. The email message is sent to recipients' external email addresses. Blackboard Learn doesn't keep a record of these email messages.

If groups prefer to keep communication within their course, they can use course messages, the Blackboard Learn internal mail tool. Because course messages aren't available as a group tool, students need to select recipients from the list of all course members. A record of all sent messages is stored in the course messages tool.

More about using email in your course


Present groups to students

The way students access groups depends on how you set up your course. You can use three options for to set up groups to achieve different learning objectives.

Option A: My Groups

What it looks like:

Each student's groups appear by default in My Groups.

How it works:

After you create groups and add users, the groups are available to enrolled members in My Groups where users can expand each group name for quick access to its tools. Because My Groups is populated automatically when students are added to groups, this option is the easiest to implement. Select the arrow to expand the group homepage into the content frame.


Option B: Course menu link

What it looks like:

A course menu link to the Groups listing page displays all groups a student is enrolled in and available sign-up sheets.

How it works:

Because My Groups doesn't list sign-up sheets, create a link to the Groups listing page if you want to use self-enroll groups. A link to groups in the course menu makes it easy and convenient for students. Use the course menu's Add Menu Item list and create a tool link or a course link. Then, select the Groups listing page in the pop-up course map.


Option C: Provide links in a course area

What it looks like:

A link to the Groups listing page, a group homepage, or a sign-up sheet appears in a content area, folder, learning module, or lesson plan in close proximity to related content.

How it works:

Create groups with the groups tool. Next, go to the course area where you want to add the group link. Open the Tools menu and select Groups. Make your selection on the Create Link: Group page.


ULTRA: About course groups

Create groups based on the real-life practicalities of teamwork.

Collaborative learning offers many benefits over traditional instruction. Studies show that when students work as a team, they develop positive attitudes, solve problems more effectively, and experience a greater sense of accomplishment.

You can organize students into groups so they can interact with each other and demonstrate their knowledge while they learn to appreciate the perspective of others.

You can create group sets to use for graded assignments, tests, and discussions. You can also create groups for activities other than graded work, such as volunteering or field trips.

More on best practices for group membership

More on creating group assignments and tests

More on creating group discussions

You can also create breakout groups in Collaborate so students can hold virtual meetings with their group members.

At this time, though students can access course groups on the Course Content page in the Details & Actions panel, they can’t view the membership on the Groups page. If you want to use course groups for activities other than graded work, you can send out a starter message to each group. The members can then view their groups’ membership and send messages. You’re included in the group messages.


ULTRA: Create course groups

Doesn't seem familiar? Jump to the "Original" help about accessing groups.

You start the course groups creation process on the Course Content page. In the Details & Actions section under Course Groups, select Create and manage groups. If you've already set up course groups, select View sets & groups link.

New Group Set page

If you already have course groups, select New Group Set on the Course Groups page.

You can create as many course groups as you want, with any number of students in each group. You can also create new course groups or remove course groups.

From the Group students menu, you can divide your students among groups in these ways:

You can also select the plus sign below the graphic to create as many groups as you need and add students.

Create custom groups

You can create a single, custom group or as many groups as you want, with any number of students in each group.

  1. In the Group students menu, select Custom and provide a name at the top of the page.
  2. Select each student's name one after the other to select them as a group. Select a student's name again to remove the selection.
  3. After you select the students, open the menu next to one of their names and select Create a new group. You can also move multiple students to a group listed in the menu.
  4. Edit the group name if you want to change the default naming.
  5. Optionally, provide a group description that also appears to members of that group. You have no limit on the number of characters.
  6. Select the plus sign wherever you want to add another group. You can also repeat steps 2-5.

At this time, if you save a Custom group set, return to the group set, and select Custom again, your groups are deleted.

Create randomly assigned groups

Students are randomly assigned to the number of groups you choose.

Random assignment may work best if you teach courses that contain many students without the opportunity to know them individually. You can assign students to groups quickly and without preparation.

  1. In the Group students menu, select Randomly assign and provide a name at the top of the page.
  2. In the Number of groups menu, select how many groups to create. Students are equally assigned to the number of groups you choose. You can create up to 99 groups in a group set.

    To remove all students from the current group set, select Unassign All at the top of the page. The menu option changes to Custom if you move students to different groups after they're grouped and before you save.

  3. Edit each group name if you want to change the default naming.
  4. Optionally, provide group descriptions that are shown to group members. You have no limit on the number of characters.

Select the plus sign wherever you want to create a group in addition to the groups the system created. When you add or delete groups, the menu option changes to Custom, and any affected students aren't redistributed.

Create self-enrollment groups

You can ask students to self-enroll in course groups. Only students may join. Students receive a course announcement and an activity stream notification about groups they need to join.

Students see Join a group and New in the Details & Actions panel on the Course Content page. You can also add an enrollment period. Students are notified when the enrollment deadline approaches. When the enrollment period ends, students can no longer join groups, and they’re enrolled automatically.

If you added a preview user, that user is also enrolled automatically in a group. You can remove the preview user before or after you create self-enrollment groups.

  1. In the Group students menu, select Self-enrollment.
  2. Your students are evenly divided among the groups listed next to Number of groups. You need to create at least two self-enrollment course groups.
  3. Select the plus sign wherever you want to add another group. The Number of groups updates automatically. You can add and delete groups even after students have started to join. If you delete a group that students have already joined, they’re moved to the unassigned list. You'll need to notify them to join one of the remaining groups or add them to a group. Reminder: If you add an enrollment period, unassigned students are enrolled automatically when the period ends.
  4. Optionally, add an enrollment start and end date. Select the arrow next to Advanced options to collapse the enrollment section.
  5. Optionally, change or clear the Maximum number of members per group that appears by default. The optional maximum must be 2 or greater. If you added or deleted groups, the maximum number doesn’t update.

    Pay attention to the maximum members per group and the number of groups. For example, if you lower the maximum number, some students won’t be allowed to enroll in a group at the end of the enrollment period. You’ll need to create new groups and enroll the students.

    To allow unlimited members per group, leave blank. Students see the maximum number allowed when they make their group selections. If you allow an unlimited number per group, students see the total number of students in their class.

    You can override the maximum membership for a group. For example, you can add a newly enrolled student to a group.

  6. Select the Hide enrolled members check box if you don't want students to see who's already joined.
  7. Edit each group name if you want to change the default naming.
  8. Add optional group descriptions. You can add information to help students choose a group. You have no limit on the number of characters.
  9. Open the menu next to a group to access the management options.

Learn about the student view of self-enrolling in course groups—use your browser's back function to return to this topic

Reuse groups

You can reuse an existing course group or group set.

If you make changes to a group set you've reused, those changes affect any group assignments and discussions based on that group set. Learn more about how group set changes affect the linked content items.

  1. In the Group students menu, select a title from the Reuse groups section. Groups with no members also appear in the list.
  2. Provide a name at the top of the page, edit the individual group names, and add optional group descriptions that are shown to group members. You have no limit on the number of characters.

The same students are added to your new group or group set. You may need to add new students added to your course to your new groups.


ULTRA: Manage individual groups

After you create a group or a group set, you can add or delete individual groups, and manage student membership. You can also edit group names, add or edit group descriptions, and send messages to your groups to kick off collaboration!

Reminder: At this time, if you save a Custom group set, return to the group set, and select Custom again, your groups are deleted.

Add and delete groups

Select the plus sign wherever you want to add a group.

If you no longer need a group, open the group's menu and select Delete group. The students in that group are unassigned automatically and appear at the top of the page. You can manually assign these students to new groups. Or, you can randomly assign all students—not only the students you unassigned—to the number of groups you choose.

Ramifications

  • If you add or delete a group in a group set used to create a new group set, the new group set is unaffected.
  • If you add or delete a group in a group set that you used to create a group assessment or discussion, that content item’s groups are updated. Edits to group titles and descriptions also affect the content items.
  • If you add or delete a group in a group assessment or discussion that's based on a course group set, the course group set is updated. Edits to group titles and descriptions also affect the course group set.
  • If you delete a group set used to create a new group set, the new group set is unaffected.
  • If you delete an entire group set used to create a group assessment or discussion, the content item’s groups are removed.
  • If you delete a group assessment or discussion based on a course group set, the group set is unaffected.

Manage student membership

Open the menu next to a student's name to access these options:

  • Start a new group with the student as a member.
  • Select Unassign to remove the student from the group. Unassigned students appear at the top of the page.
  • Assign the student to a different group that already exists. Select the group's name in the menu. Groups with no members don't appear.

You can also move multiple students to a different group in one action, create a new group for them, or unassign them all from the group.

To remove all students from all groups, select Unassign All at the top of the page.

Ramifications

  • Membership changes in a group set affect the content-level items where the groups are used, such as in group discussions and assessments.
  • Membership changes in a content-level item based on a course group set affect the course group set.
  • Membership changes in a group set do NOT affect other group sets that are based on the group set.

ULTRA: Course Groups page

All groups you've created appear on the Course Groups page. Group sets with no members also appear. At the top of the page, the numbers of groups sets and individual groups are listed.

You can also create a new group set.

  1. Select a heading to sort your groups or the number of members in ascending or descending order.
  2. Show or hide the groups in a group set.
  3. Open a group set's menu to edit or delete the group.
  4. View the number of members in each group out of the total number of students in the course.

ULTRA: Course groups and conversion

If you have course groups and group sets in your Original Course View and convert to the Ultra Course View, the group sets appear on the Course Groups page. Groups not part of a group set don't appear on the Course Groups page. Also, self-enroll signup sheets don't convert.

If you used course group sets to create group assignments in your Original course, those group assignments convert.