Creating groups in Blackboard is a great way to allow your students to interact with each other, learn, share ideas, and demonstrate what they know. 

If you’ve never used the Groups feature in Blackboard before, or just want to learn more about what options there are for using it, we’ll cover all the basics of Bb Groups in this post. 

Why Groups? 

Groups are primarily created for assignments, tests, and discussions, but you can also create Groups for activities outside of the classroom like volunteering or field trips.  

The Group function is also available in Bb Collaborate Ultra and can be integrated with existing groups in Blackboard itself. Learn more here

These groups allow students to work together to understand course materials and to produce assignments, papers, and projects throughout the semester. They can be a good way to get students more engaged in the course and to allow them to hear a variety of viewpoints and ideas. Research shows that group work can be extremely beneficial to students, promoting not only improved academic achievement but aso collaborative abilities. 

Creating Groups 

Using 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.

There are three ways you can add students to a group in Blackboard.  

  1. Manual Enroll You will assign each student in your course to a group manually. 
  2. Random Enroll Students will randomly be distributed into groups based on parameters you set (max number of group members and number of groups). You can adjust random enoll manually if you so choose. 
  3. Self-Enroll Students will sign up for a group using a sign-up sheet. 

There are pros and cons to each type of group, so take some time to consider both the needs of your course and the dynamics of your students. Learn more about group enrollment

When creating groups, you’ll also need to select your options for what kind of tools the group will have to use (wikis, blogs, discussion boards) and what grades will be attached to the group. 

Student Access to Groups

Students will access their groups through the My Groups link on the left hand navigation menu.  They will be able to see all groups they are a member of in your course, and will be able to select the one they want to enter. There are some other options that you can use for setting up student access to groups, you can learn more below. 

Each student group will have its own homepage with links and various tools that will help students collaborate. Only students in the group and you as the instructor have access to these pages and tools. Depending on the options you have selected, these can include: 

  • Collaborate Ultra 
  • File Exchange
  • Group Blog 
  • Group Discussion Board 
  • Group Journal
  • Group Tasks 
  • Group Wiki 
  • Send Email 
  • Group Homepage

You can change access to these tools at any time using the Options menu, unless the item is for a grade–then it cannot be removed. 

There may be times when you want to communicate with entire groups or individual members of a group.

  • Emailing a course group. This tool allows you to email all or some members of a group. These messages are sent via students’ external COD emails and are not stored in Blackboard. Email a Course Group. 

You can access all student groups in your courses and can post comments, content, and anything else you need to support students.

Managing Groups 

As an instructor, you can remove students from a group. Students cannot un-enroll themselves from a group. 

To do this, you will go to the Groups page, and select Edit Group. Then, you’ll select the X in the group member or members that you want to remove’s row. This will remove the user from the group. If you want to remove all members, select Remove All Users. 

To finish, select Submit. You can ensure that removal is successful by going to the group homepage and looking at the list of members. 

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