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D2L Brightspace: Group Discussions

The Groups tool sets up student work groups. It allows the instructor to restrict access to Discussion topics and Assignment folders on the basis of group enrollment. Students can belong to any number of groups in the same course. In this tutorial, you will:

  • Create a Group Category
  • Set Up a Group Discussion Area
  • Verify/Assign Group Enrollment

This article is also available in PDF Format.

There is also a helpful tutorial video for this article.

Create a Group Category

The first step in the process of creating group assignments is creating a Group Category. Categories will organize and manage groups related to specific course activities, i.e. Discussion Group, Case Study, etc. To create a new set of groups, you need to set up a Category.

  1. Click the Communications menu, and click Groups.
  2. Click the New Category button at the top of the screen.
  3. Enter a name for your group in Category Name.
  4. [Optional] Enter a Description, which will be for your use only.
  5. Click the drop down box by Enrollment Type and select your choice of how you want to assign the members of your groups.

You can a) Manually enroll students into groups, b) Allow D2L to automatically enroll students randomly, c) Allow students choose to their groups, or d) Create a group for each student.

      • Manually enroll students: Click # of Groups – No Auto Enrollment. D2L will create a specified number of groups and you will manually enroll students into each group.
        NOTE: To manually enroll students, go to Verify/Assign Group Enrollment at the bottom of this tutorial.
      • Automatically enroll students: Click Groups of # and D2L will create groups based on how many students you want in each group, or click # of Groups and D2L will create a specified number of groups.
      • Allow students to choose their groups using a Self Enrollment option: Click Groups of # – Self Enrollment and students choose their group and you select how many will be allowed in each group, or click # of Groups – Self Enrollment and students choose their group and you select how many groups there will be, or click # of Groups, capacity of # – Self Enrollment. With this choice, students choose their group, while you set the number of groups and how many students are allowed in each group.
      • Create a group for each student: Click Single user, member-specific groups: D2L will create one group for each student using the student’s name as the group name.
  1. Number of Groups/Users: Depending on the chosen Enrollment Type, enter the Number of Groups to create, the Number of Usersper group, or both.
  2. Group Prefix: To apply a distinctive prefix to each group name and code in the category, enter it in the Group Prefix  If you do not fill in this field, the prefix defaults to “Group”.
  3. If you have chosen a Manual or Auto Enrollment Type, these Groups Options will appear in Advanced Properties. Click Auto-enroll new users and Randomize users in groups. With these options, late course registrants will be auto enrolled and students will be assigned to groups randomly.
  4. If you have chosen a Self Enrollment option, the Set Self Enrollment box will appear. Click Set Self Enrollment Expiry Date and complete the deadline for students to self enroll and click Allocate unenrolled …. Students who have not enrolled by the deadline, will be assigned to groups.

NOTE:  If you want to change group enrollments part way through the semester, it is recommended that you create a new group category, rather than moving students from one group to another.

  1. Scroll down to Additional Options.
  2. Click the Show/Collapse additional options arrow if the workspaces do not show.
  3. Click Set up lockers and your student groups will have a location to share their group work, if they desire.

At this point, your groups are set up and they have group lockers.

  1. Click Save.
  2. Optionally you can click Set up discussion areas (and Set up assignment submission folders), but we recommend you go directly to Discussions (or Assignments) to set them up (see instructions below).
Set up Group Discussions

To get started, click the Communications menu and then click Discussions.

  1. Click New and select New Forum.
  2. Enter a Title and [optional] Description.
  3. Select optional settings, and then click Save and Close.

Next, you will create a Group Topic for your Discussion. Topics are where the actual discussion takes place. You must have both a Forum and a Topic for the discussion to be visible to students.

  1. Click the arrow next to a Forum and click Add Topic.
  2. Select Group or section topic, everyone can access this topic but students only see threads from their own group or section.
  3. Be sure to select the Group Category you created from Group or Section Category list.

  4. Enter a Title and [optional] Description for the topic.
  5. Select optional settings, including if Users must start a thread before they can read and reply to other threads. NOTE: If you selected options at the Forum level, you do not need to add them to the Topics in the Forum.
  6. Set [optional] date restrictions:
      • Availability. These dates control when the topic is visible to students. We recommend that you either leave the topic “Always visible” or only add a “Start Date.” You can then close a topic by locking it.
      • Locking. These dates control when a student can add posts to the topic. If you add a Locking End Date, students will be able to review the posts in the topic, but will not be able to add new posts.
  7. When finished, click Save.
How to Assess a Discussion Post

If you plan to assess student participation in Discussions, you will need an Assessment attached to each Topic. Even if you do not plan to record a score in the gradebook, adding an assessment to a Topic gives you the ability to pull all posts from one student together in an easy to read format.

  1. Click the arrow next to the Topic and click Edit Topic.
  2. Click the Assessment

  1. [Optional] Choose a grade item from the dropdown list. If you need to create a grade item, click New Grade Item and fill in the required information to create the grade item.
  2. Enter the Score Out Of point value.
  3. [optional] If you have created a Rubric for grading discussions, click Add a Rubric and select the Rubric from the list.
  4. Under Posts, do NOT click the box for “Allow individual scoring.” This option requires that you assess each individual post rather than the topic as a whole.
  5. Click Save and Close.
Assess the Topic (disregard if the topic is not going to be graded)
  1. Click the dropdown arrow next to the Topic, i.e. What is Problem Based learning?
  2. Click Assess Topic.

  1. [Optional] Sort your list of students by clicking the Last Name column heading.
  2. Click the Topic Score link below the student’s name and then scroll down to view their posts and replies.
  3. If you are using a rubric, scroll back up and click the various levels achieved.
  4. [optional] enter General Feedback to the student.

  1. Click the Topic Score and enter the student’s score (if using a Rubric, this score can be transferred from the Rubric).
  2. Click the Publish score on save This will send the score to the student’s gradebook.
  3. Save and Close
  4. Continue with the next student.
Verify/Assign Group Enrollment

If you chose to manually enroll students in your groups, the following steps will guide you through the process. If you chose automatic enrollment, you can follow these instructions to view which students are enrolled in each group.

  1. Go to Communications, then click Groups.
  2. On the Manage Groups page, click drop down arrow next to View Categories and choose the category you want, i.e. Case Study.
  3. The Category name (i.e. Case Study) and corresponding Groups will display.
  4. Click the dropdown arrow next to the Category name (Case Study) and click Enroll Users.
  5. The group enrollment table will display.
  6. Click the checkboxes to assign or reassign individuals to groups.
  7. Click the Save button.


Additional Resources

Go to eLearning Website for detailed tutorials on almost any D2L topic.

Call or email Beth Jensen (4217) or Julie Adams (4219) for individual support. The staff in eLearning Support are available for one on one or small group training sessions by appointment. Please let us know how we can help.