4 – Setting up and Using Groups

In the above video we cover how to:

  • Set up and edit groups
  • Send messages to groups
  • Use group assignments and release content by group

1  Setting up groups

To set up groups, go to the main “Course Content” page in your module and look in the left-hand Details & Actions menu. Click on the link for the second item – “View sets & Groups”, this will open the Groups page.

Click on the plus sign icon in the top right for “New Group Set”.

First you can enter a name for the group set – note that this is for the set as a whole, not the names of the specific groups. You may want to make it for a tutor group, for any sections of your module, or for a specific assignment. To the right of this is the visibility drop-down item. Set it to hidden if you don’t want students to see the group or their group members – this can be useful if you are setting up marking groups or other groupings you don’t want students to see.

Below that, there is a drop-down for what kind of group set you will create: Custom, Random, or Self-enrolment (this has to be visible to students). We’ll cover each of these in order. Do note there is a way to import a CSV file with student names to create and populate groups. We won’t cover that in this session, but we will include a link below for more information.

Setting up a custom group set is ideal if you want to have complete control over the groups. You can add as many groups as you want and you can assign each student individually.

Use the plus sign icon below the list of students to create a new group. You can click on the “New Group 1” to enter a specific name – make sure you use clear and consistent names so anyone else viewing the groups can make sense of them, too! You can also add a description if you’d like.

To add more groups, click on the plus sign icon above or below the group you just created.

Now, let’s add students. Above the groups, you can see all of the students who are not assigned to a group, potentially including your Preview User account. If you don’t see a PreviewUser account, see our 101 on Getting Started in My Dundee to learn more about this feature!

Find the student who you want to add and click the three dots by their name. This will open to a menu that lets you assign them to a group. Repeat this for all of the students you want to assign. If you have a large course, you may want to use the search bar to look for your students. Simply enter your student’s first or last name (we recommend not using their full name as it’s easy to have an extra space and come up with nothing), press “Enter” and you’ll see all of the students who match that search in the “unassigned students” area. Clear the search term at the top to return to the full student view or search for another student.

If you want to move a student to a different group after you’ve assigned them, click on the three dots beside their name and then either select the new group or select “unassign”.

We recommend that you add your PreviewUser account to a group as this will help you test any release conditions or submission points later if you would like.

Click Save when you’re done.

1.1 Randomly Assigned Groups

To use a randomly assigned group, go to the drop-down menu that says “Group Students” and select the option “Randomly assign”. This will set up a default number of groups and students per group, but you can adjust this. Once you’ve selected the random group, you will see a new drop-down to the right of this that says “Number of groups”. Click on this to customise how many groups you want, and it will define how many students can fit into that amount of groups. This may not be exact based on the number of students in your module, but it will approximate this as closely as possible. This will set up a minimum of two students per group.

You can still adjust the students in the groups, simply find the student who you want to move, click on the three dots beside their name and then either select the new group or select “unassign”.

Click Save when you’re done.

1.2 Self-enrolled Groups

The first thing to point out is that you need to set the group set to be visible before you can select “Self-enrolment” from the “group students” drop-down menu.

Once you have selected that, you can see a few important differences from other group set types. The first is a description at the top, you can use this to enter any instructions you would like students to see before they sign up for a group.

Below this, you can see enrolment dates for the start and end of when students can sign up for a group. Once the date/time passes for the end of the self-enrolment period, any students who did not sign up for a group will be randomly allocated to a group.

Below that you can set a cap for maximum members per group.

You can use the tick box below that to hide enrolled students. This means that a student who looks at the groups to sign up to one will not see who else has already signed up for that group.

Below that are the same options as the custom group, including adding new groups and editing details in each group and adding students directly into groups.  

2 Send Messages to Groups

Sending messages to groups can be a bit confusing, because it’s not in the typical messages section. Instead, once you’ve set up your groups, you will need to go back into the “View sets & Groups” link from the Details and Actions menu. Find the group set that contains the group or groups you want to message and make sure it is a “visible” group set. At the time of recording, you can only send to visible group sets. Next, click on the three dots next to it and select “Edit”.

Then, find the group that you want to message and click on the three dots at the far right of their group name and select the option for “Message group”. This will auto-fill the recipients field with the group members. All group members can see who the message is going to (think of this like the “to” field in an email that everyone can see as opposed to the hidden “bcc”), this is why the group set needs to be visible to use this option.

From here, you will enter your message as you typically would then click on the send button. For more information on sending messages, see our 101 video on “Communication in your Module”.

3 Group Assignments

If you want to create a group assignment, you will need to use a Blackboard assignment. For full details of how to set up a Blackboard assignment, see our 101 on that topic. Here, we will show how to add groups to an existing Blackboard assignment and will not go into the settings in depth.

Find your assignment and click on the three dots to the far right, and select the option for “edit”. Next, click on the cog wheel to the right of the “Assignment Settings” to see the full assignment settings options. Scroll down to the bottom of this menu and click on the link for “Assign to groups”. Here you can click on the drop-down menu that says “Custom”. Below the standard group creation options will be a section called “Reuse groups” and a complete list of all of the group sets you have created. Select the one you want to use and then click “Save” at the bottom right.

Now, each group will be able to submit one document that they can each receive a mark for. You can use one mark and enter feedback that will apply to all students in the group, but you can also enter individual marks and feedback. This allows you to enter marks quickly if they are shared, but still gives you the flexibility to change this for individual student or students if required.

4 Release Content by Group

One extremely useful aspects of groups is the group release. This can work well with items like Turnitin assignments but can be applied to any content in your module. You can see more information about releasing items in our 101 on “Adding and Reusing content”, but here we will just cover using group release.

From the main Course Content page, each item will have a link below it that explains how it is currently set – typically this is “hidden from students” by default. To adjust this, click on that link and select “Release conditions”.

In the side panel that opens, you can see a few options that we can use to customise how content is released. The first section includes is “All members” or “Specific members or groups” and the second section includes “Date/time” and “Performance”. You can use these different settings alone or together, depending on your needs.

If you click the radial button for “Specific members or groups”, you can see two drop down-areas, one for individual members and one for groups. Click on the drop-down menu for groups to see each individual group you have set up. This will release the content not to the group set as a whole, but to one (or more) specific group(s) that you decide. Anyone who is not in the groups selected will not see the item nor receive any notifications about it. This can be extremely useful if you are setting up submission points for different levels in your module (e.g. Level 7 to submit in one Turnitin submission point and Level 8 to submit in a separate submission point), or if a specific group set is allowed a second submission date (e.g. if students have been allowed proofreading time from Disability Services).

If you want test this release, you ought to make sure you have a PreviewUser account set up for the class, and be sure to include this account in the group or the individual user list. You can then go into the Student Preview Mode to make sure the release is working as you expect it to. For more information on the Preview User account and Student Preview mode, check out our first session on getting started in My Dundee.

Do note this is different than creating a group assignment – this only determines who can see and access the item.



Vendor guides:

  • Coming soon: Blackboard Guide on using CSV files to import and export groups. This feature is so new, Blackboard don’t yet have a guide for it! We’ll update this with a link once we have one.

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Updated on 09/09/2022

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