Groups are a great way to drive student interaction and are vital to many of our institutions. Please share with the community how you use Groups today and how we can improve this set of features.
I use groups in my online English comp class for our research paper project. Students typically hate working in groups in general, but it's an even greater challenge in an online environment. I would love to see an automatic integration with Bb Collaborate as one of the tools you can select when setting up the group so that I wouldn't have to create separate sessions for each group.
I've thought about that as well! It would be great if an instructor could create breakout groups with the groups already created in the course shell. Great recommendation!
We recommend creating an SAS (student accessibility services) group to easily accommodate students requiring extended test time. We also have faculty who prefer to break discussions into smaller groups. With Groups, I would like to be able to create forums that are not editable by students. We bypass this by creating separate forums per group and adaptively releasing to specific groups. Unfortunately this creates a plethora of grade center columns visible by all students regardless of groups.
I also would like to see Collaborate become available as a group collaborative tool for students.
We use Groups as a key part of our Course delivery. Students may be assigned Group projects, and so would benefit from a space where they can share materials, have discussions and finally submit one piece of work representing the contribution of all members. Some of the Blackboard tools work well here - Group assignments, discussion boards and blogs are easy, but as others have noted - no Collaborate Groups feature - please add this soon. Also it would be nice to be able to add Group events to a Course Calendar, currently this is not possible - very frustrating.
Great discussion here, thank you for contributing. Collaborate in Groups seems like a logical piece to add. I'll be sure to include that in our discussions for Groups in Ultra.
My faculty who schedule online office hours sometimes use self-enroll groups to determine if the hours should be held. I think they'd like to be able to set a self-enroll threshold that would automatically cancel or initiate a Collaborate session.
Also I've had a request to extend functionality, as per group submission to Assignments, to Tests and Surveys. I think this request cropped up in face-to-face classes though, rather than fully online.
We have some courses in which one single course will be taught by several instructors across multiple satellite campuses. They will merge the multiple sections together in one parent course for ease of use and ease of access to shared content. However, individual instructors sharing the course will put their students into a group to make things easier such as communicating via email, assignments etc.
It seems similar in my institution. Faculty request to merge their multiple sections. Then in the parent course shell, they use groups to deliver some special assignments to students from individual section.
Some folks here are using groups to help schedule things like final presentations. I don't think that this is the tool that should be used for this, so having something in Ultra that would allow students to sign up for time slots for things like presentations, office hours, group meetings and other synchronous activities would be great.
Possibly integrate this into the calendar tool to allow a faculty member to specify slots that students could sign up for or have the instructor specify a range where a time slot could be added and then have the student add it there. If you go this way, there should be someway of exposing this in a calendar that someone already has, like Google or Outlook.
This does seem like something more suited for the Calendar, but a great idea nonetheless. I'm not sure if this has been discussed yet with regards to Ultra, so I'll bring it up.
Guess I aim low but one thing that I wish I could find more readily is which group(s) Johnny is already in so I do not accidentally enroll him in multiple groups by mistake.
One last item is to add a gradable discussion board to the group's tools in addition to the current group discussion board. Both serve important but very different functions. We use groups to prompt participation in rather large enrollment classes and faculty want to grade on the participation but the current workaround of assigning a different discussion board to each group using adaptive release is painful and also makes the grade center even more unwieldy.
On the topic of gradable discussion boards for groups... I would imagine each would end up with a separate grade center column, since each forum would be set up per group individually. (Unless we want to have a function to create group forums that would spawn in a set of groups, perhaps.)
I think my dream scenario would be to set up a single course-level forum, but have an option that would allow viewing of posts based on group membership. So instructors would have but a single forum to grade against, and the instructor initial posts would be seen by all students, but students would not see posts by members not in their group, and only see instructor replies when made to a member of their group.
Of course, as I typed out my dream scenario, my mind kept going to how convoluted a process this would be to code for. Still... it could be nice.
I do like this idea a lot, especially since it would help a little with the grade book being less crowded. I'm no engineer, but a Group filter on a discussion is something we could look to do in a future round of work on discussions. Awesome suggestion!
Easier management of group enrollments is definitely something we can improve. As we continue refining that workflow, our designers will be looking for opportunities like what you've described here. Thank you!
I would like to see the ability to have groups within an assignment, instead of assignments within groups. I rotate my groups by assignment and with the current design my course has lots of groups and lots of grade center columns. Having the ability to create a single assignment and groups within that assignment, filtering into one grade center column would be awesome.
Melissa Stange That is such a great idea, to have groups by assignment. We have several professors who change groups with each assignment to spread that interaction around. I imagine this would be especially helpful if Blackboard Groups synced automatically synced with Collaborate as well, so it is not an extra step. Make sense?
Some professors also use groups to sign-up for project topics. However I do agree with Michael Shelmet that there should be some sort of reservation scheduling tool. We also make groups for students who need more time (accessibility students) to complete tests.
This is exactly what we're doing for Assignments in Ultra. If you haven't already registered on the Educator Preview site, please do and take a look. We'd really appreciate your feedback on how group assignments work in Ultra.
We use groups with our timetabling (class scheduling) system to automate the creation and enrolment into class groups. These are used in creating smart views for the smaller tutorials as well as the ability to release content to different classes within the same course at different times. We also have a building block which creates class lists with photos, based on the groups within the groups tool in Blackboard.
Teachers also use groups for:
What we'd really love to have is the ability for students to be able to quickly jump into their group area without having to navigate to a specific course, so that if they're working on group projects etc. they can get in easily access these areas to share content and collaborate with each other... preferably an entire new area in Bb Student called 'Groups'. Of course we'd also like to have improvements in the file sharing and online document collaboration space so they don't have to resort to Google Hangouts or Facebook Groups.
Bb Collaborate in Groups would also be nice
Great feedback, thank you, Lauren! I've seen some discussion in other issues raising concerns about content without context. Would you be at all concerned about students jumping straight in to a group without the context of a course? I'm sure we'd ID the course somewhere, but wanted to get your thoughts on the topic of context.
I don't think there is too much concern with that for groups, as they are very often student led or have continual and numerous interactions by members in the same location. This should make it pretty clear how the area fits in with the rest of the course. The content in groups is generally user generated rather than instructor led and is built up over time rather than pre-existing. Therefore I believe the name of the group should be enough to give the students context.
Also, groups can be made available and unavailable so presumably you wouldn't make a group available until its purpose is clearly established. It might be nice to consider timed release options for groups though so it could potentially be released at the same time as an assessment begins or a week or topic starts.
At my previous institution (Newcastle University, UK) the group tool was used for a wide variety of activities. Here are a few of them:
We would really be interested to hear how other institutions populate the groups in their courses, CSV file in the course is OK, but is there a way to populate groups in multiple courses and why is there no group population via SIS?
Yes!, group creation via SIS would be great, I can't figure why it is not implemented.
self unenroll from groups would be very useful (with an option for instructors to (dis)allow unenrolling)
proper implementation of group file exchange... as part of the content collection, with all the benefits of the content collection
This would be huge! It would make adaptive release a better tool as well
A master course (when combining courses using the built in merge tool) should automatically create groups based on child enrollments. Lots of ways faculty could use this (adaptive release, assignments, etc.). Group would be hidden from students by default.
Some way to assign new students (such as late adds) to groups automatically, or alert instructor they need to be added
Better sharing option than file upload (at least versioning like in Content system)
I like that you can create groups via txt file, but would like the ability to integrate that with SIS Framework. For example, Freshman Orientation wants one Org/Course with students grouped by major. We would love to automate this.
Basic Collaborate integration was on the roadmap a year ago or so, but haven’t heard anything recently. That is essential.
Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes - thank you Joesph
I'd love to see groups within groups - we have a unit of 200, with classes (groups) of 35 and we'd like to be able to say that from that group of 35, we want project groups of 5 stduents, for example. We have to do this manually at the moment.
Students being able to create collaborate sessions from within that project group and create assessments for that project group would be amazing.
Last week, I had a professor request that he could make groups based on already existing group memberships so he could use the new features for controlling access to versions of tests and times. Oh by the way, he does not want them to know they are in the groups. The groups are only for managing the students (approximately 400 in the lecture sections.)
We use groups mainly for students with accommodations, to give them more time on exams or to keep exams open longer.
We also use them to create categories of research and case studies. We allow students to enroll in groups that cover the topics that interest them most. The content and assessments then become available in the subject(s) they enroll in. Students can only enroll in a limited number of groups.
We would like to see the ability for group members to evaluate each other on their contributions which would then update the grade centre column
Yes..I agree.there needs to be a peer evaluation rubric embedded within groups which automatically reflects in the grade book calculations..
Some great ideas here. Here are my two cents, based on how I see Professors and staff using groups, and what they're regularly asking me for that Blackboard doesn't do. (I marked with a * the features which appear the most crucial and impactful on the use and workflow)
Small things but which matter :
Would love to see groups evolve also in the original version of Blackboard (we'll probably switch to Ultra in at least two years).
Great summary and analyses. Adding these features would increase buy-in from our instructors.
I've seen many of these Group features in other LMS'.
I would vote for this.
Yes please. There are several variations on this suggestion, but some of our parent courses have their own enrollments. Therefore we need Blackboard to either automagically create groups based on 'course of origin' whether that is the course itself or a child course, or at the very least, have visibility of the 'course of origin' (and the ability to sort on that field) from Users and Groups, Groups, All Users so you can easily Add Multiple Users to Groups based on course of origin.
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