Group work is an essential component of many online courses. Effectively managing groups takes a bit of work, but the group tools in Blackboard make it easy to manage groups and assignments.
Adding members to existing groups
If you are teaching an online class that has been set up by OKWU, groups and their assignments will already be created, and all you need to do is add the members. Note that students cannot see group assignments until they are enrolled in a group, so it’s important to get this done early.
To get started, open your course, make sure you are enrolled in as an Instructor, and that you have Edit Mode turned on (the button is towards the top right of the page). Now, find Users and Groups in the Course Management options, then click on it and then Groups in the drop-down menu that appears.
You will see a list of the groups that have already been created. To add members, hover your mouse over the name of the group you want to add to, then click the arrow that appears and then Edit Group.
On the Edit Group page scroll down to Membership and click on Add Users.
This will open a pop-up box. In the Add Users box, check the box next to students you want to be in the group. Click Submit when you are finished.
The students you selected should now be in a list under Membership. Click Submit to save your changes and repeat these steps for all groups in your class.
Once your groups are set up, it’s a good idea to post an announcement to the class letting them know that they are now enrolled in groups and who is in which group.
To get started creating a group open the Groups page from Course Management, click Create on the Action Bar, and then the type of group you want to create. Single Group creates one group at a time, and Group Set creates multiple groups at once. Here is a brief description of the group types:
- Self-Enroll – Students enroll themselves in groups that they choose.
- Manual Enroll – The instructor enrolls students in groups.
- Random Enroll – The instructor selects either a group size or a number of groups and the students are randomly placed in groups accordingly.
Click on the type of group you want to create and you will be taken to the Create Group page. Most of the options are the same for all group types, with a few options unique to each type. For detailed descriptions of each option, click on More Help under the page title (if you don’t see that, click on the ? icon next to the Edit Mode button to show the help options).
Briefly, here are the required options:
- Name – The name of the group. When creating a Group Set the group names will automatically have a number preceding them, so if you put in Group it will create Group 1, Group 2 and so on.
- Group is visible to students – Students cannot see the group until Yes is selected. Useful for if you want to create groups ahead of time but keep them hidden until needed, just be sure to make them visible when needed.
- Group Set Options – Enter either how many groups you want to create, or how many students per group (random enroll only).
- Sign-up Options (self-enroll only) – Name the sign up sheet, and give students instructions on how to set up their groups.
Try to limit the amount of tools available to students in Tool Availability, with too many options it can get confusing. Think about which tools your students will need to use to accomplish the tasks at hand. Typically, all they will need access to is the Discussion Board, Email, File Exchange, and Tasks.
When all the options and tools are set you how like, click Submit to create the group(s). If you create a self-enroll or random enroll group you’re done! For Manual Enroll you must now enroll students in the groups (you can come back and do this later if you aren’t ready yet).
Click on Add Users for each group.
Click the checkbox next to the students you want in the selected group, then Submit. Do the same for each group.
Review your groups, and when everything looks good click Submit.
Your groups are now set up, but they need some assignments to work on.
Group assignments make group work simple for both you and your students. Instead of having everyone submit a copy of the assignment, or manually entering the grade for the group, only one member of the group needs to submit the assignment and everyone gets credit (they must confirm that work is being submitted for the whole group before it is accepted).
It’s easy to set up a group assignment; all it takes is changing a setting when creating a regular assignment. When creating or editing an assignment, change Recipients to Groups of Students. You will then see a list of all groups in the course. To assign groups select a group in the box on the left and click the > arrow to move it to the box on the right. Once all of groups are in the right box click Submit to save your changes.
An important thing to note is that students cannot see group assignments unless they are in a group that has been assigned that assignment. If a student says that they can’t see an assignment check to make sure that they are in a group and that all groups have been assigned. Additionally, if an assignment already has a submission you cannot change it from an individual to a group assignment, so make sure all of your assignments are set up correctly before class begins.
To make sure that a group has been added to all assignments go to the Groups link, click the down arrow that appears when you hover over a group name, and then click Open Group. At the bottom of the screen there is a section that shows the assignments that group has been added to.
Another way to check that group assignments are set up correctly is to look at the Grade Center. Open the Full Grade Center from Course Management and scroll through all of the columns. If you see any cells that are grayed out it is most likely a group assignment that has not been assigned to any groups.
If you need to change the points for one team member you can do that from the Full Grade Center, just find the cell for the student and assignment, click it, and type in the corrected grade.
Further Reading on Groups
Click on the links below for further exploration of creating groups in Blackboard and some tips on creating great group assignments.