If your course uses groups to encourage students to collaborate on coursework, you can also include links to group tools to help them communicate. For example, you can create a special group discussion board available only to the members of a course group.

In the Original Course View, group discussion boards are separate from the regular course discussion board. Members of a group can create and manage their own forums.

Example: You assign students to groups and provide each group with a problem or situation to explore and develop into a class presentation. The groups can use the chat tool and their group discussion boards to brainstorm and discuss topic choices. They can also use their group discussion boards to post web links and members can post replies on their value. Also, they can use the group discussion board to divide up tasks and refine the outline. Members post portions of the presentation and all members post replies regarding the usefulness, grammar, and flow, as well as for agreement on the final product.

Enable group discussions

Doesn't seem familiar? Jump to the "Ultra" help about creating group discussions.

When you create a course group, enable the discussion board tool to help groups collaborate and communicate.

  1. On the Create Group page, select the check box for Discussion Board in the Tool Availability section.
  2. Select Submit.

The Group Discussion Board tool appears in the My Groups section and on the group homepage.

Disable group discussions

You can't delete a group discussion board without deleting the group, but you can make the tool unavailable. Existing posts are not removed—just made unavailable to group members.

When you make a graded group discussion board unavailable, the grade column associated with that group discussion board remains in the Grade Center.

  1. On the Control Panel, expand the Users and Groups section and select Groups.
  2. Change Edit Mode to ON. On the Groups page, select Edit in the group's menu.
  3. On the Edit Group page, clear the check box for Discussion Board in the Tool Availability section.
  4. Select Submit.

When members access their group homepage or the My Groups section, the link to the group discussion board no longer appears. You can make the tool available again at any time.

Edit group discussion settings

By default, each new group discussion board uses the group's name as the title. You and all assigned group members can edit the forum name and provide a description.

If you want to grade participation in a group discussion board, you can edit a forum's settings and enable grading in the forum or threads. Unlike other graded group activities, when you set a group discussion board to graded, each member is graded independently of other group members. Each group member must make the designated number of posts to earn his or her own grade. You don't assign a group grade for contributions to the group discussion board.

  1. On your course's Control Panel, expand the Course Tools section and select Discussion Board.
  2. On the Discussion Board page, the course discussion board and all group discussion boards appear. Select a group discussion board.
  3. On the next Discussion Board page, select Edit in the forum's menu.
  4. On the Edit Forum page, you can edit all settings, including the name and description, which appears in the Description column on the group discussion board page. You can edit the forum availability and enable grading for the forum or threads.

You or any group member can create more forums in a group discussion board.

ULTRA: Create a group discussion

Doesn't seem familiar? Jump to the "Original" help about enabling group discussions.

When you create a discussion, you can assign groups to focus the conversation. You may want to use discussion groups to help students feel more comfortable conversing in a course because fewer people are involved. Group discussions can also help students feel freer to speak their minds.

You can assign groups in a discussion in the Discussion Settings. Select the gear icon and then Assign to groups. You're brought to the Create Groups page.

You can align goals with a group discussion. The Post first setting isn't available in group discussions at this time.

On the Assign Groups page, you can create groups manually or you can choose how to form groups automatically:

  • Randomly Assign: Students are randomly assigned to the number of groups you want to create. Choose how many groups to create in the Number of Groups menu. Students are equally assigned among the number of groups you create.
  • Custom: You can create as many groups as you want, with any number of students in each group. You can also create new groups or remove groups based on how many you want for this discussion. The setting changes to Custom if you move students to different groups after they are grouped automatically or with random assign.
  • Reuse working groups: Want to reuse groups from a previous discussion? Choose the discussion name to apply those groupings to the new discussion. You can move students to other groups without affecting the previous discussion's groupings. The only groups that change are those contained in the current discussion.

To remove all students from groups, select Unassign All at the top of the page. The Unassign All disappears after groups start their discussions. Any student who isn't assigned to a group won't have access to the group discussion because it won't appear on their Course Content page.

View groups

After you create a group discussion, you can easily view groups from the Course Content or Discussions page. Select the groups link under the discussion title to open the Assign Groups page.

Move students to other groups

Move students to other groups that haven't started the discussion.

You can't move students into or out of groups that have started to post responses and replies.

You can move a student from one group to another on the Assign Groups page. Select the ellipsis icon next to a name to access these options:

  • Start a new group for this student.
  • To assign the student to a different group that already exists, select the group's name in the list.
  • Select Unassign to remove the student from the group.

You can also move multiple students to a different group or create a new group for them. To remove all students from groups, select Unassign All at the top of the page. The Unassign All disappears after groups start their discussions.

Select multiple students

To save time, you can select more than one student and change their group. You can select multiple students and move them if they're all in the same group or all unassigned.

  1. Select each student's name to select them at the same time. The selected students' names are highlighted with a purple border.
  2. Select a student's name again to remove the selection.
  3. After you select the students, select the ellipsis icon next to one of their names to access the options. You can start a new group, move them to an existing group, or remove them from a group.

Want to send a message to a group? In the More options menu next to the group's name, select Message group to start a course message with the students assigned to that group.

Delete a group

To delete a group, open the group's More options menu and select Delete group. The students in that group are automatically unassigned and the Group Students setting is set to Custom.

You can manually assign these students to new groups. Or, select Randomly Assign to automatically assign students evenly among the new number of groups.

View a group discussion

When you view a discussion, you can choose which group's responses to display on the screen. Select a group name to see their discussion contributions.

ULTRA: Grade a group discussion

You can grade a group discussion to make a student's contributions count toward their course grade. Grading a group discussion can help guide a student's ability to tactfully and clearly express personal views among a select group of peers. A grade can also help hold the student accountable to further the group's conversation and development of discussion ideas.

To enable grading on a group discussion, select Graded discussion on the Discussion settings panel and choose your grade settings and a participation deadline. Then select Assign to groups and assign students groups for the discussion.

You have the option to enable or disable grading at any time, even after groups have started the discussion. If you remove the grading option in the discussion after you assign grades, all discussion content remains but the grades are lost.

When you're finished assigning groups, set the discussion's visibility. Students can begin the group discussion as soon as it's available to them. Get started grading when you're ready.

Grade from a discussion

Ready to grade? You assign grades for each group member individually in a group discussion. Unlike group assignments, you won't be able assign a grade to a discussion group as a whole. Any feedback you include with a grade is visible only to that student.

Start grading from the gradebook or from the discussion. Select Grades & Participation to view who's participated.

On the Grades & Participation page, students are listed according to their groups. To view other groups, select a group name from the menu at the top of the page.

Select a student's name in the list to view his or her posts. Enter a grade and include optional feedback. When you're finished, select Post to release the grade and feedback to the student.

Grade from the gradebook

You can also assign a grade in the gradebook. Select the discussion and find the student's name in the submissions list. Select a group member's cell and all other group members are highlighted in the grid. Type a grade for the student's contributions.

You can easily go back to the student's submissions if you use the grid view in the gradebook. Select the cell for a student's grade and select View to see the contributions to the discussion, along with responses and replies.

More on how to grade a discussion

ULTRA: View group discussion statistics

You can also view discussion statistics when you assign groups. Select the More options icon and select View Analytics. In the main menu, there is an Overall tab that shows discussion statistics for the entire class, as well as tabs with details for each group. Select a group name from the menu to display specific analytics for that group.

More on discussion statistics