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Using Groups

NOTE: This is a persoanl web site, and is not associated with any other entity, project, or organization.

Using Groups in Canvas is quite easy, and it offers many opportunities for delivering courses where some form of team / group collaboration is desired.  This is where Canvas shines.


The important thing to remeber, at present, Groups are user data and not course data (this could change).  This means that when a course is copied from term to term, the groups go away.  The next time the course is run, and is populated with students, it is then that you can Create your groups (sometimes you can do it without students - can't figure it out other than that is the way it is). It is up to the Instructor to create these Groups each time a course is run. Of course, you can also enable (in Settings) that users can create / form their own Groups (this is up to you).

First of all, it is important to read the Instructure Guides as it pertains to using Groups: http://guides.instructure.com/m/4152.

In addition to the Guides, here are a couple of short but useful videos that may be of help:

Groups 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ms0RUfAFSs4

Groups 2:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVywSx5q1CI

And: http://vivaelearning.com/Groups-for-Students-Instructure-Canvas-Tutorials-_v1101

Unfortunately, you cannot test Groups until you actually have students enrolled in a class (at the time of the writing of these instructions).

Note:  If students wish, and YOU ALLOW it, students can create their own groups.  By default, allowing students to set up their own Groups is disabled.  To modify this, click on Settings in the lower right of the Menu.  Click on Edit Course Details.  Then click on "more options".  It is here that you can enable that students can create their own Groups.  There may be times where students wish to create their one study groups for a variety of reasons (over and above speific curse requirements).  This can be a powerful addition to some courses where students want to collaborate (for a variety of reasons) with other members of the class (or the instructor).

If you read the guides, and watch the videos, setting up Groups is quite easy.  You can access groups from the People menu item, then select View Groups, then you can Create them (once there are students in the class).  You basically set up the main group:  like "Project Group".  Then you set up the individual Groups under the Main Group.  Certainly, you can just have Canvas automatically allocate students to each Group, or you can do it yourself by dragging the student name into the associated Group (probably the most common option). NOTE: the instructor automatically is a member of each Group).

Once the Group is established, a wealth of tools exist for students to use as defined in the documentation / video (even Web Conferencing).  Or, you can do as always, and create a starting discussion for each Group.  Note: you can also set up graded Assignments / Discussions for each group.  Note: again, by default, the instrutor has access to each Group.  You do not need to add yourself.

Specific Instructions (which may vary):

  1. Click on People
  2. Click  on View User Groups
  3. If visible, click on Make a New Set of Groups (Canvas goes back and forth, but currently, one cannot add Groups until stdents are added.  Not a bug.  Canvas say this is the way it is.  It varies what you can do when students are not added.  I cannot keep up with these Canvas changes. 
  4. Add your main Group:  like: Team Project, Group Activities, or whatever you want.
  5. When there are multiple groups, they will be tabbed on that screen.
  6. Add your individual group names under the main Group you created (+ sign)
  7. Choose the name you want:  Blue, Green, etc or Bankers, Arbitrage, etc, or Puffins, etc ..whatever.
  8. DO NOT have Canvas create which student goes where (unless you want this) - But it could be just fine if you do no selections of teams based on certainl "class mix" criteria.
  9. Add your seed discussion to each Group (if you choose to use this) but students should be encouraged to use the wealth of tools under their Group area. Check it out.  You will get questions.
  10. The navigation in an out of Groups is Cumbersome (unless it has changed)
  11. When students are added.... drag from the student list into the specific Group to which they are assigned...the instructor is automatically a part of each group.
  12. Let them do their thing in the course.
  13. Unless it has changed (not checking) enjoy the navigation from Group to Group.
Making Team Assignments:  Thanks to Mark Porter, here it is:

In Canvas I have made Team Assignments designated as "Group Assignment".  You will need to do this for each of yours as we didn't have this completed in time for the second course this summer.  Instructions are below -

  1. Need to go into each Team Assignment and Edit it.  (e.g. Week 1 Team Assignment - Projectizing Obstacles and Issues) and make it a Group Assignment by opening the Assignment, put it in "edit" mode, click on "This is a Group Assignment", let the name remain as "Project Groups" (or whatever you call your main Group), leave " Make sure you create your Groups / Teams first.
  2. If you don't check the box that says "Assign grades to each student individually" all students in the group receive the same grade.  This is the way I will do it as this is the way I did it in Angel.
  3. When you enter a grade in SpeedGrader for the assignment that grade will apply to all members of the group.
  4. Once students show as enrolled in the class you can go to "People", "View User Groups" and create the subgroups that you can drag students into.

Try it....explore the possiblitities! Groups add many exciting collaboration possibilities to a course.