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Creating Small Groups and Small Group Restrictions for Discussion Forums

[Click this link for a .pdf version of this tutorial, with larger images!]

Note: to see larger images in the online version of this tutorial, click the image.

The two main steps in this tutorial are to first create small groups for your class, and then to generate discussion forum topics for these small groups so that students can post and reply to a Discussion Forum only within their own group.

Step One: Creating Small Groups

On your D2L course site, click on [Groups] on the upper navigation bar.

You will see the screen below.  Click on [New Category].

Next to Category Name in the screen that appears below, type a name for your groups.   Then click on the drop-down arrow next to [Enrollment Types] to see your choices.

There are several different Enrollment Types available. This tutorial focuses on the one most often used, particularly in larger enrollment classes. Other types of enrollment include automatic enrollment according to the number of groups desired, student self-selected enrollment, or manual enrollment by an instructor.

Select   [Groups of #]   to enroll a specific number of students per group automatically and at random :

Now enter the Number of Users (i.e., students) per group. The recommended size of the groups depends upon what they will be doing. If they will be completing a small group project, 5-7 is an appropriate number; if they are merely discussing a  topic or problem, 12-15 is a better number. You may want to err on the higher side of those ranges in case one or more students drops the course, fails to participate, etc.

Next, check   [Auto Enroll New Users] to allow D2L to automatically place students who add your course into a group.  Leave the [Randomize Users in Groups] box checked, so that D2L places students in groups at random.                                                                                    
Finally, click  [Create]  to complete the process.

Now you may click on the   [Enroll Users]      icon   to the far right of your   Group Category   to see your groups.

From this page, you may easily use the checkboxes to move specific individuals from one group to another.

It’s probably worthwhile to point out that if you use the same small discussion groups the entire semester, you can skip this step after you’ve set up the groups for the first time. If, however, you decide to change the way your groups are enrolled, you need to go through the entire process again. You can have as many    Group Categories    as you need!

Step Two: Setting Up Discussion Group Restrictions

Go to the   [Discussions]  area of your D2L site, and    [Create a New Forum]   -- but it is important to note that you will NOT yet create any topics for that forum!

Give your new forum a title and click on   [SAVE]     (remember, do NOT create a topic! That’s next.)

Now click on    Group Restrictions    on the left side of the screen.

You need to make sure that you’ve correctly located in the dropdown boxes both the   Group Category   that you previously created, and also the   New Forum.

Now click on    [Automatically Create Restricted Topics]      (Be careful: this is a key step, but very easy to miss!)

Check again to make sure that you’ve got the right   Group Category   and the right Discussion Forum, then click on    [Create]

This is what you will see. Each   Topic   is restricted to one   Group.

Now if you go back to    Discussions    you as instructor will see all of the topics. However, each student will see only the topic that is restricted to her/his small group.

Finally, note that you can click on the [pencil icons] from this screen and edit the names of the topics, since they’re pretty generic.

UW – Milwaukee Learning Technology Center
September 2011