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Brightspace Tip #289: Working with Groups


Online groups can enrich class discussion and provide a virtual environment for sharing information. You can use groups to organize users’ work on projects and assignments, or you can create special work areas for users with different learning needs. The Groups tool allows instructors to form virtual groups of students to support peer collaboration.

Users can belong to multiple groups within the same course. For example, each user can simultaneously belong to a group for class projects, a group for special interest discussions, and a group for advanced users. Each group can have its own discussion forums, assignments, and locker area to work in. You can grade members of groups individually or as a team.

Groups have a maximum enrollment of 200 users. If there are more than 200 users in a course, you can create new group categories; there is no limit on the number of group categories in a course.

Groups can be designated as Self Enrollment (allows students to add themselves to a Group), No Auto Enrollment (instructor assigns students to Groups), or random enrollment (Brightspace system distributes students equally into Groups).

Group Enrollment Type Description
# of Groups

Groups of #

Groups will be created by either number of groups (i.e., 4 groups total) or group size (i.e., groups of 4 students). Students will be randomly assigned to each group.
# of Groups - No Auto Enrollment This option allows instructors to manually assign students to groups.
# of Groups - Self Enrollment

Groups of # - Self Enrollment

# of Groups, Capacity of # – Self Enrollment

Blank groups will be created for students to sign-up for. Students will be able to see the other members of their group.
Single user, member-specific groups This option creates groups of one (1). Each group has a single user where the first name and last name of the learner is the name of the group.

Important: Currently, there is no way to hide the names of group members from other students who are in the same group. Therefore, creating groups for remedial or disability purposes could violate confidentiality laws if group names and/or group members makes the purpose of the group obvious.

Follow these steps to do it.

To create a group category you should:

  1. On the navbar, click Groups.
  2. On the Manage Groups page, click New Category.
  3. Enter a Category Name and Description.
  4. Select an Enrollment Type from the drop-down list.
  5. Depending on the chosen Enrollment Type, enter the Number of Groups to create, the Number of Users per group, or both.
  6. To apply a distinctive prefix to each group name and code in the category, enter it in the Group Prefix field. If you do not fill in this field, the prefix defaults to "Group".
  7. Depending on the chosen Enrollment Type, to automatically enroll users to groups, select Auto-enroll new users.
  8. Depending on the chosen Enrollment Type, to randomly place users in groups, select Randomize users in groups. If you do not choose this option, users are placed alphabetically based on the Classlist.
  9. If you select an Enrollment Type that supports self enrollment, to set a deadline after which learners can no longer self enroll in the group, select Set Self Enrollment Expiry Date.
  10. Click Save.

To create a group you should:

Note: Groups reside in categories. You must create a category before you can create a group. These instructions assume you have already created a category for the group.

  1. On the navbar, click Groups.
  2. On the Manage Groups page, from the View Categories drop-down list, select the category you want to add a group to.
  3. From the context menu of the category, click Add Group.
  4. If you do not want to use the default name provided, enter a group name.
  5. If you do not want to use the default group code provided, enter a group code.
  6. Enter a description for the group.
  7. Click Save.

Want more information?

Groups Tool Quick Reference Guide (pdf)
Creating Groups in Brightspace
Create Group Work Areas for Learners
Create a Group (video)
Understand Group Enrollment Options (video)
Modify Group Enrollment (video)
Create Groups and Group-Based Assignments (video)
Best Practices for Setting Up Groups

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Instructors Quick Start Tutorial
Continuous Delivery release notes
Brightspace Known Issues
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You can find Brightspace help at D2L's website.
Join the Brightspace Community.
Try these Brightspace How-To documents.
Visit our Brightspace FAQs for additional Brightspace information
or schedule a one-on-one session, email, or
call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418.

Note: Are you doing something innovative in Brightspace or perhaps you've discovered a handy tip? Share how you are using Brightspace in your teaching and learning in The Orange Room.

Image credit: image by qimono from Pixabay

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