Setting Up Groups [FOR INSTRUCTORS]

IN THIS ARTICLE
How to set up groups
Making on-the-fly adjustments to groups

💡 IMPORTANT NOTE

See how your learners will experience groups here

Community Owners and Facilitators can automatically divide Community Members into groups and can make ad hoc adjustments to group composition and visibility as desired. Each group is an audience, and depending on group settings, group members can decide with which audiences they would like to share posts, comments, and other content.

Groups can be useful for MOOCs and other high-enrollment classes ( 100). But for most use cases, we do not recommend separating students into groups, as doing so can minimize conversations, limit students' posting and commenting opportunities, and make Communities less dynamic.

If you are going to use groups, we strongly recommend following these best practices:

  • Leave "Public Visibility" ON most of the time, turning it OFF only for asynchronous breakout sessions.

  • Leave "Group-only posting" OFF, letting students alternate between Community-level conversations and talking with their group. 

  • Make sure that each group contains at least 50 students. This helps ensure that group-level conversations don't become stagnant.

  • Change group names to something more informative than "Group 1", for example.

  • Avoid excessively reshuffling groups, as changing groups can disorient students and make it harder to find past content.

Pros and Cons of forming smaller groups in large communities

Somewhat independent of community size, a higher faculty-to-student ratio is typically preferable from a student perspective since they can get the feedback and affirmation that they often seek. However, instructors don't always need a smaller community to benefit from this, rather they can add TA's or other instructors to the larger community as needed.

While smaller communities can be great for collaborative work, typically there is less selection of content to engage with. In larger communities, students have a higher volume of content to interact with that is being posted more often, which is more likely to draw students back in to engage in conversations.

Our data suggest that community size doesn't have a predictable impact on community success, so we do not typically recommend using groups just because you might have a larger community.  Many other implementation decisions and ways in which instructors interact seem to have a much greater impact on how much students participate and how much they enjoy the experience than community size.


How to set up groups

  1. Go to Settings → Groups.

  2. Set the "Groups Enabled" slider to ON. Keep in mind that, if you turn this slider OFF after creating groups, the groups you created will be deleted, and any content associated with those groups will be made available to the entire Community.

  3. Set the "Public Visibility" slider to ON or OFF. (We recommend leaving it ON most of the time.) If Public Visibility is ON, students will be able to see posts and comments from other groups; if Public Visibility is OFF, students will only be able to see posts and comments that have been posted for the entire Community.

  4. Set the "Group-only posting" slider to ON or OFF. (We recommend leaving it OFF.) If Group-only posting is OFF, students will be able to post to the entire Community. If Group-only posting is ON, students will only be able to post to their group. (The only exception is that, if a Facilitator or Owner creates a post for the entire Community, all students will be able to comment on that post.)

  5. Under "Group Count", specify how many groups you want in your Community. Community Members will be sorted evenly between these groups, though you can manually re-sort Members after the initial sorting. Community Facilitators will not be partitioned into groups.
    • Depending on enrollment, some groups may be smaller than others. For example, if 200 users are divided into three groups, Groups 1 and 2 will have 67 students, but Group 3 will have 66 students.
  6. When you're done, click SUBMIT.

💡 Note On Group Filters

Group filters are based on post audience, not group affiliation. Hence, if group-only posting is OFF, and if a student posts only to Public, filtering by that student's group affiliation will not return their posts, but filtering by Public will return their posts.


Making on-the-fly adjustments to groups

  • To change the name of a group, click the EDIT button next to a group's name. Enter the new name in the "Group Name" field, and click SAVE.

  • To manually move a student from one group to another, click on the ellipsis (...) icon next to their name and select the name of the group to which you want them moved.

  • To initiate asynchronous breakout sessions, turn Public Visibility OFF. To end asynchronous breakout sessions and reveal the contents of the breakout sessions to everyone in the Community, turn Public Visibility back ON

  • To temporarily prevent students from posting to the full Community, turn Group-only posting ON. To re-enable posting to the full Community, turn Group-only posting OFF. Be advised that group-only posting can reduce engagement and make Communities less lively. Reserve this option for Communities containing 250+ students.

  • To change the number of groups and randomly reshuffle students into different groups, click Edit group count; choose a new number; and click SUBMIT. Previously authored posts whose audiences were groups will now be displayed to the entire Community. This action cannot be undone.

  • To get rid of groups, turn Groups enabled? OFF. Previously authored posts whose audiences were groups will now be displayed to the entire Community. This action cannot be undone.
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