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 their 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 a user, select the X next to their name.

  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 a user, select the X next to their name.

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. Access the Tools menu and select Groups. Make your selection on the Create Link: Group page.

ULTRA: About course groups

At this time, only instructors can access course groups. Students can't access course groups, but they can respond to messages. You can send out a starter message to each group and the members can then send messages to the group.

In a future release, you'll have the ability to apply course groups to graded content, such as group assignments, tests, and discussion.


ULTRA: Access 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, the menu shows the number of sets and groups.


ULTRA: Create course groups

When you create course groups for the first time or want to add a new group set, a partial list of your students appears on the New Group Set page in the Unassigned Students section. Select Show All to view the entire list.

With a group set, you can create multiple groups around a theme, such as a lesson, brainstorming, studying, or volunteering. With group sets, you can pair students based on certain attributes, situations, or tasks.

You can create up to 99 groups in a group set.

You can also select the plus below the student list to create a custom group and add students.

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

You can divide your students among groups manually or choose how to form groups automatically:

  • Randomly Assign
  • Custom
  • Reuse working groups

Randomly Assign

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

  1. In the Group Students menu, select Randomly Assign.
  2. In the Number of Groups menu, select how many groups to create. Students are equally assigned to the number of groups you choose. To remove all students from the current group set, select Unassign All at the top of the page. The setting changes to Custom if you move students to different groups after they're grouped and before you save.

    Reminder: You can create up to 99 groups in a group set.

  3. Provide a name at the top of the page.
  4. Edit each group name if you want to change the default naming.

Select the plus sign wherever you want to create a group in addition to the groups the system created.

Custom groups

You can also create a single, custom group or as many groups as you want, with any number of students in each group. For example, you can create one or more groups for students who want to work on extra credit together or need remedial work. You might create a group for students who are in charge of a class event.

  1. In the Group Students menu, select Custom and provide a name at the top of the page.
  2. Select each student's name to select them at the same time. The selected students' names are highlighted with a purple border. Select a student's name again to remove the selection.
  3. After you select the students, access the menu next to one of their names and select Create a new group.
  4. Edit the group name if you want to change the default naming.
  5. Select the plus sign wherever you want to add another group.

You can also move multiple students to a group listed in the menu.

Reuse working group

Want to reuse an existing course group or group set?

  1. In the Group Students menu, select a title from the Reuse working group section. Groups with no members also appear in the list.
  2. The same students are added to your new group or group set. You can move students between groups as you need. Changes won't affect the original working group you copied.
  3. Provide a name at the top of the page and edit the individual group names.

At this time, group assessments you've assigned won't appear as course groups to choose from.


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 and send messages to your groups to kick off collaboration!

Add and delete groups

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

If you no longer need a group, access 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.

Manage student membership

Access 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.


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. Access 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 in your Original Course View and convert to the Ultra Course View, the groups won't appear on the Course Groups page.