Creating Student Groups

The "UT Course Grafter" is for combining course sections together, e.g. L01+L02+L30 into one course shell (more...) and the "UT Manage Groups Tool", popularly "The Grouper" is for defining and managing enrolment in subgroups within a course shell, such as for tutorials and/or lab practicals. (more...).

 Conceptual map of the uses of the Blackboard Grafter and Grouper

With 'The Grouper' you can:

  • create course groups from the Repository Of Student Information (ROSI) (as the intranet does)
  • create groups which randomly distribute the course enrolment
  • create empty groups then allow students to sign themselves up (self-signup)
  • allow switching between groups (w/ self-signup)
  • assign course staff to groups (in roles `TA`, `Grader` or `Course Builder`)
  • create sub-groups or copies of groups
  • import or export a group structure from another course
  • upload or download Excel .csv files of group enrolment rosters
While the 'UT Manage Groups Tool' or 'The Grouper' can be used to facilitate a lot of operations, it is most commonly used to define tutorial/lab-practical groups from ROSI.
 
Here's detailed text instructions [Create an Advanced Group from ROSI baseline roster], or follow the illustrated instructions below.

Six steps!

  1. Enrol course staff, esp. TA's via Control Panel > Course Tools: UT Manage Users
  2. Select Course Tools > UT Manage Groups, then Create Group > Advanced Group
  3. Create and Link each group to the corresponding 'baseline roster' for the tutorial or practical group (you may need to request access to these [portal@utsc.utoronto.ca])
  4. Assign TA's to the sub-groups
  5. Monitor groups for changes in enrolment
  6. Create Grade Center smart views corresponding to groups, to enable selection and sorting by tutorial
     

Step 2: Creating 'Tutorial' Groups

Once your TA's have been enrolled in the course, begin creating tutorial groups by selecting:

1. UT Manage Groups

2. Create Group > Advanced Group.

Screen shot of Blackboard 9.1 UT Manage Groups Tool

 

Step 3: Create Tutorial or Practical Groups, Linking them to the Baseline Rosters

Create the groups one at a time, by naming each group, searching for the roster, linking the roster to the group, configuring the group tools, and then enabling it.

  1. Name: Enter the Group Name, such as 'Tutorial 01'.
  2. Search: Click 'search' to pop up a list of current course enrolments you have access to.  If your tutorial or practical sections are not showing at this point, or don't show from a search of your course code, contact [portal@utsc.utoronto.ca] to have them linked to your UTORid.
  3. Link: Having located the corresponding ROSI group, select 'Add' from the search pop up to import the current enrolment of this group.  A table will now appear just above the search button, indicating the linked baseline roster and the total students.  Don't close the popup, or you will need to search again for the next tutorial group.
  4. Configure: Select the optional course tools you would like to make accessible to the group.
  5. Make the group visible to students, or leave it visible to instructional staff only.  Then select 'submit and add another', repeating the steps until all the tutorial sections have been created.

Screen shot of the UT Manage Groups tool - click to enlarge
 

Step 4: Link the TA's to the Groups

To link TA's to the groups you have created, return to the main UT Manage Groups tool and select 'Manage Staff'. 

1. Select the TA, and
2. The tutorial or practical group(s) you would like that staff member to have access to.  Click submit and repeat this process for each TA.  Consider also linking yourself (the instructor) to the groups, to make them easier to access.
 
Screen shot of Blackboard 9.1 UT Manage Groups manage staff screen

 

Step 5: Update Enrolment Changes

To periodically update the groups to reflect enrolment changes being made as students change tutorials in ROSI, 

1. Check the number of ungrouped students to see if grouping needs to occur.
2. Select 'Assign students to groups' to add recently transferred students to a tutorial
3. Select 'Move Students ' to shift a student from one tutorial group to the other.
 
Another option is to delete the old rosters to and reimport them with the new enrolment information, as you did in step 3.  The core portal support group recommends to minimize the updating that you 1) Create groups using baseline rosters after the course add period has ended; or 2) Clear each group of all students and then update the baseline rosters.   Note that if you do delete groups and re-create them, that any smart views you've established in the Grade Centre will also need to be deleted and recreated.
 
Screen shot of Blackboard 9.1 UT Manage Groups tool, illustrating adding or moving students between groups

 

Step 6: Smart Views based on Groups

It if often useful to create grade center smart views based on groups.   Most commonly this is done if each group is a tutorial and grading work needs to be viewed by tutorial-group.

  1. Once the groups are set up (steps 1-5), navigate to the Grade Center > Full Grade Center.  
  2. In the charcoal-grey toolbar, select Manage > Smart Views.
  3. Select 'Create Smart View'
  4. Give the Group a descriptive identifier, such as Tutorial 01 - AJ;  appending the initials of the TA to the tutorial can help TA's select the tutorial group they've been assigned more easily.
  5. Tick the 'Add as Favorite' box, so the view will appear on Grade Center menu as an option.
  6. In 'Selection Criteria', select User Criteria: Group; Condition: Equal to; Value: group name, e.g. Tutorial 01

Screen shot of Blackboard 9.1 Create Smart View screen

 

Confirmation appears, with the 'favourites' link showing on the menu.

Screen shot of Blackboard 9.1 Grade Centre smart view creation confirmation.

 

Now if this process of using the "UT Manage Groups Tool" doesn't appeal to you, tutorials and lab practicals 'shells' actually do get created with the `ROSI` enrolment in Blackboard automatically.  Once you are linked to them you can make the course shells available; however, they exist completely independent of the lecture sections and each other.  Please request your department's Blackboard domain administrator to link you, or the Blackboard campus administrators [portal@utsc.utoronto.ca].