Reviewed: 02/08/2022

There may be several reasons why you might need to put students into groups in Blackboard, e.g. group work, group discussions, specific items released only to a subset of students, etc.

Creating groups

There are two different types of groups that you can set up:

  • Single Group – Self-enrol
  • Single Group – Manual enrol

Single Group – Self-enrol

This type of group should be used when creating a single group (or a number of single groups) that students will sign themselves up to, e.g. groups to sign up for revision classes. If you want to create multiple groups and would like students to have the option to sign up to more than 1 group, use this option.

  1. In your Blackboard course, click ‘Users and Groups’ from the Course Management menu
  2. Click ‘Groups’
  3. Hover over ‘Create Single Group’ and select ‘Self-enrol’
  4. Give the group a name and description (if applicable)
    1. If you want the students to have access to group tools, e.g. Group discussion board, you need to select yes for ‘Group Available’. If you want group tools to be hidden, but for students to be able to sign themselves up to the group, select sign up sheet only. Selecting yes will not prevent you having a sign up sheet.
    2. In section ‘2. Tool Availability’ select the tools you want to make available to the group, e.g. for a group task you may been discussion boards and email. Unselect any you do not want available for them.
    3. In section ‘3. Personalisation’, tick this if you want to allow students to personalise the look of their group page, e.g. colour scheme, fonts, etc. We would recommend this is unchecked to keep the group page in line with the rest of Blackboard.
    4. In section ‘4. Sign-up options’ give the sign up sheet a name and if necessary, instructions. Indicate the Maximum number of members (if applicable). If you want students to be able to see who else is in the group, tick the ‘Show Members’ box. If you are having a groups listing page and want students to be able to sign up from that, tick the appropriate box in section 4. If you are unsure whether you have a groups listing page, but you are not restricting the access to the group sign up, tick the box.
  5. Click the ‘Submit’ button.


Single Group – Manual enrol

This type of group should be used when creating a single group (or a number of single groups) that students will sign themselves up to, e.g. groups to sign up for revision classes. If you want to create multiple groups and would like students to have the option to sign up to more than 1 group, use this option.

  1. In your Blackboard course, click ‘Users and Groups’ from the Course Management menu
  2. Click ‘Groups’
  3. Hover over ‘Create Single Group’ and select ‘Manual-enrol’ Give the group a name and description (if applicable)
    1. If you want the students to have access to group tools e.g. Group discussion board, you need to select yes for ‘Group Available’. If you want group tools to be hidden, click no.
    2. In section ‘2. Tool Availability’ select the tools you want to make available to the group, e.g. for a group task you may been discussion boards and email. Unselect any you do not want available to them.
    3. In section ‘3. Personalisation’, tick this if you want to allow students to personalise the look of their group page, e.g. colour scheme, fonts, etc. We would recommend this is unchecked to keep the group page in line with the rest of Blackboard.
    4. In section ‘4. select the students you wish to have in the group from the ‘Items to Select’ list and use the right arrow button to move the students to the ‘Selected Items’ list. You can move the students out of a group using the left arrow button. To select multiple students, hold the Ctrl key whilst selecting the students.
  4. Click the ‘Submit’ button.


Creating group sets

If you are creating multiple groups to divide students between, then choosing one of the Group Set options will make this process a lot easier for you, as Blackboard will automatically adjust the list of students not currently assigned to a group within that set.

The following options are available for group sets:

  • Group Set – Self-enrol
  • Group Set – Manual enrol
  • Group Set – Random enrol

Group set – Self-enrol

If you want students to be able to sign up to more than 1 of the available groups, look at ‘Single group – Self-enrol‘ above.

These instructions are designed to be used for setting up a set of groups for which a student should sign themselves up to just 1 group, e.g. If you have a group assignment and students have to sign up for the group they wish to be in (could be based on title, or just who else is in the group, etc).

  1. Go to Blackboard > Your unit > Course management menu > Users and groups > Groups
  2. Click: Create Group set > Manual Enrol
    1. Give the group set a name and description if applicable.
    2. Set the group availability dependent on whether you wish for the students to see the group page (from the group page students will be able to see who else is in the group and access the group based tools).
    3. Untick the boxes for tools you do not wish to make available in ‘2. Tool availability’
    4. Untick ‘Allow personalisation’.
    5. In section ‘4. Sign-up options’ give the sign up sheet a name and if necessary, instructions. Indicate the Maximum number of members (if applicable). If you want students to be able to see who else is in the group, tick the ‘Show Members’ box. If you are having a groups listing page and want students to be able to sign up from that, tick the appropriate box in section 4. If you are unsure whether you have a groups listing page, but you are not restricting the access to the group sign up, tick the box.
    6. Indicate the number of groups required in ‘5. Group Set Options’. Don’t worry if you need more/fewer, as you can amend later.
  3. Click Submit. Your groups will be listed and will automatically be given the title of the group set with a number after it.

Group set – Manual enrol

These instructions are designed to be used for setting up groups for large scale submissions, where you will individually assign students into specific groups (e.g. dissertation submissions).

  1. Go to Blackboard > Your unit > Course management menu > Users and groups > Groups
  2. Click: Create Group set > Manual Enrol
    1. Give the group set a name (i.e ‘Advisors’…. or … ‘Marker’) and description, if required.
    2. Set the group availability dependent on whether you wish for the students to see the group page (from the group page students will be able to see who else is in the group and access the group based tools). For large submissions this should be set to ‘No’ since the students will not need to know that they have been assigned to marking groups.
    3. Untick the boxes for tools you do not wish to make available in ‘2. Tool availability’. For submissions such as dissertations you will not need the students to know that they are in a group, or to interact, therefore you would untick all tools.
    4. Untick ‘Allow personalisation’
    5. Indicate the number of groups required in ‘4. Group Set Options’. Don’t worry if you need more/less, you can add these later.
    6. Click Submit
    7. On the next page you will organise your students in to groups: If each student is only going to be enrolled into 1 group, make sure that ‘remove member already in a group’ is ticked as this will enable you to see who is still left to add to a group, and as you work through the groups, it will reduce the number of students you have to search through. In most cases you should ensure that ‘show all course roles’ is not ticked. It is not necessary to assign the lecturers to groups in order for them to be able to see information and documents provided by the groups they manage.
    8. In ‘3. Group Set Enrolments’ each grey box is a group; it has a number. You can change the group name as required, e.g. for dissertations the name will include the name of the staff member marking the group by surname first. (i.e Advisor – Hilton, Kate)
    9. Locate a student that you want in the left hand column, click it, then click the ‘>’ arrow to move it to the right hand column, this student is now in the group. Repeat until the group is full. (NOTE: this hasn’t been saved yet, so don’t close the browser). You can use Ctrl on your keyboard to enable you to select multiple students at once.
    10. Continue to the next group.
    11. After doing a few groups, click the ‘submit’ button. This will save your work so far; you don’t want to lose work!
  3. You should be sent to the groups page. To return to the area to transfer students into the groups, go to the top right hand corner of the screen and click ‘group sets’.
  4. Next to the name of your group set, click the drop down arrow and click ‘edit set enrolments’
  5. You are now back on the group enrolment editing pages. Return to point ‘2.8’ above and repeat until all groups are created and submitted.

Group set – Random enrol

This option allows Blackboard to randomly split all students registered on your course into a defined number of groups.

  1. Open the ‘Users and Groups’ item in the control panel menu
  2. Click on ‘Groups’
  3. Hover over ‘Create Group Set’
  4. Click on ‘Random Enrol’
    1. Give your group set a name and description if applicable, e.g. Assignment Group (you will be able to edit the names of individual groups later).
    2. You should make the group available unless there is a need to prevent members of the group interacting.
    3. Only make available the tools you wish the students to use, e.g. Discussion board will create a discussion board purely for that group and will not allow students from other groups access to the messages.
    4. Untick ‘Allow Personalisation’, this option would allow students to personalise the group page (e.g. change the colours), however these changes will be reflected for all students in the group and may cause issues with viewing the page for some users.
    5. In the next section you will need to determine how many groups are set up and how the students are distributed. You can choose to split the students based on a number of groups, or number of students per group. You must then decide what to do with excess students.
  5. Click submit. You will now be on the Group listings page. From this page you can view or edit individual groups. However when using a group set, it is advisable to edit the groups from the Groups set page (see section Editing Group Sets).

Editing groups and group sets

If you need to make changes to any groups or group sets you have already created, please use the following as guidance:


Editing single groups

You may wish to edit the group properties (e.g. tool availability) or the student enrolments. You have access to edit all group types, including self enrol. Students cannot un-enrol themselves from groups; this has to be done by a member of staff.

These instructions are for editing single groups only. If you wish to edit a group as part of a group set, please see ‘Editing group sets’ below.

  1. Open the Users and Groups item in the control panel menu
  2. Click on Groups
  3. You will see your groups and group sets listed. Click on the context menu button for your single group.
  4. If you want to edit the set properties, such as which tools are available to the group, edit the group name or which students are in each group, click ‘edit’.
  5. The students that are not in the group will be listed in the boxes on the left hand side. The students assigned to the group will be listed in the right hand box. You can select students and use the arrows to transfer students into and out of the group.
  6. Made edits as required and then press submit to confirm your changes.


Editing group sets

If you want to make alterations to a group that is part of a group set, you should do it from the Group Set view so that you are able to see all groups at once and make all required changes.

  1. Open the ‘Users and Groups’ item in the control panel menu
  2. Click on ‘Groups’
  3. Click on ‘Group sets’ in the top right hand corner
  4. You will see your group sets listed. Click on the context menu button for your group set.
  5. If you want to edit the set properties, such as which tools are available to the group, click on ‘Edit set properties’, make alterations and click submit.
  6. If you wish to edit group names or which students are in each group, click ‘edit set enrolments’.
  7. You will be taken to a page which shows all your groups. The students that are not in a group will be listed in the boxes on the left hand side. The students assigned to each group will be listed in the right hand boxes. You can select students and use the arrows to transfer students into and out of groups.

Adding a Groups listing page

If you are running a group assessment, you may wish to have the groups listing page available from the assessments area ,so that students can access their group discussion board [as long as you have set the groups to be available, the students will also get a small additional menu below their standard left hand menu, which will enable them to access their group area].


Adding a Groups listing page to a specific place in your course

  1. Navigate to the course location where you want to add the groups listing page
  2. Hover over Tools and click on Groups
  3. Change the radio button to ‘Link to a Group or Group Set’, select your group, sign up sheet, or group set and click Next.
  4. You can now add a title/description for this link, as well as decide if you want to alter the availability dates.
  5. Once you have added your settings, click Submit and the link will appear on your Blackboard page.

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Creating groups in Blackboard