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. You can allow members to create forums.
  2. Select Submit.

For students, 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 aren't 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 help students feel more comfortable because fewer people are involved. You can also assign a specific topic to each group.

You assign groups to a discussion in the Discussion Settings:

Discussions Settings icon > Discussion Settings panel > Assign to groups > groups page

You can align goals with a group discussion. When you want to use both post first and groups, select Post first before you assign groups. If you select the Grade discussion check box, more settings appear.

Create groups

On the groups page, a partial list of your students appears in the Unassigned students section. Select Show All to view the entire list. You can create multiple groups to deliver the discussion to. You can also select the plus sign below the graphic to create a custom group and add students.

Students who aren't assigned to a group won't have access to the group discussion because it won't appear on their Course Content pages. If you ask students to self-enroll in a group, they can't access the discussion until they join a group.

If you want to release the group discussion in the future, students can't access the content, but they can join a group.

You can divide your students among groups in these ways:

  • Custom
  • Randomly assign
  • Self-enrollment
  • Reuse groups

Learn about group types and workflows in the group assignments topic. Use your browser's back function to return to this topic.

To remove all students from groups, select Unassign All at the top of the page. Unassign All disappears after groups start their discussions.

You can't move individual students out of groups after they start their discussions. However, you can move unassigned students into groups after discussions have started.

ULTRA: View groups

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

View a group discussion

Select a group discussion title on the Course Content or Discussions page. To view each group's discussion, select a group name from the menu at the top of the page.

ULTRA: Grade a group discussion

Graded group discussions can guide a student's ability to tactfully and clearly express personal views among a select group of peers. A grade can also hold the student accountable to further the group's conversation and development of discussion ideas.

To enable grading on a group discussion, select the Graded discussion check box in the Discussion settings panel. Choose your grade settings and a participation deadline.

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.

Select Assign to groups and assign students groups for the discussion.

Grade from a discussion

You assign grades for each group member individually in a group discussion. You can't assign a grade to a discussion group as a whole. Any feedback you include with a grade is visible to only that student.

From a group discussion, select Grades & Participation to view who's participated.

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

Select students' names in the list to view their posts. Assign a grade and include optional feedback. When you're finished, select Post to release grades and feedback to students.

Grade from the gradebook

You can also access group discussions from the gradebook. In grid view, find the student's group discussion cell. When you select a group member's cell, all other group members are highlighted in the grid. Open the cell's menu and select View to open the student's contributions, along with responses and replies. Assign a grade and feedback. You can post the grade or return to the grid.

More on how to grade a discussion

ULTRA: View group discussion statistics

You can also view discussion statistics for groups. Open a group discussion's menu and select View Analytics. The Overall tab near the top of the page displays discussion statistics for the entire class. You can also open tabs with details for each group.

More on discussion statistics