19 August 2011

Groups

Students within a Desire2Learn course offering can be divided into groups, which give instructors an additional set of tools. The Groups page can be accessed via the Groups navbar link or by selecting the Edit Course link and then choosing Groups. Students access their groups via the navbar link.

Creation and categories

There must be at least one category before groups can be set up. The name of the category is visible to students, though the description is not. Within that category, the groups all share certain settings, including the enrollment type and available tools.

Enrollment Type options:

  • If you want to enroll all students manually in groups, choose the first option. The only additional information needed is the number of groups. Once you click the Create button, a new button appears at the top of the page. Click Enroll Users to assign students to the groups you just created.
  • Desire2Learn can also auto-enroll students in groups, and you can decide whether you want to create a certain number of groups or whether you want to specify the number of students per group. If you choose either of these option, there are two additional choices:
    • Auto-Enroll New Users places new students enrolled in the class into the groups, creating additional groups if necessary
    • Randomize users in Groups distributes students randomly. If you do not choose this option, students are distributed in order of the classlist.
The enrollment type for a category cannot be changed. Note that the auto-enroll options does not include an option to ensure that everyone in a group is in the same section, which means that auto-enrolled groups in multiple-enrollment course offerings will likely contain students from different sections.

Group tools

There are three optional group tools: discussion, locker, and dropbox:
  • For discussion, Desire2Learn creates a discussion topic for each group that is restricted to its members. You can add those topics to an existing forum or create a new one. Remember that any discussion forum or topic can be limited to a particular group through the use of release conditions.
  • The locker option creates an online file storage area that any group member can edit. This appears as a button on each member’s locker page as well as a link on the Groups page for each group that has a locker.
  • In a group dropbox folder, any member can submit a file to the folder. You can grade these submissions as a group or individually.
All groups have an email button, which opens a new browser window with a compose email message addressed to all group members. Students can see a count of membership in each of their groups and click on that number to see a list of names.

Self-enrollment

If you choose to create any categories with self-enrollment, students see a prompt to choose a group in each category that they have not self-enrolled in. If a group is full (you chose the enrollment type Groups of # - Self Enrollment), the word “FULL” appears next to the group name. Students can see who has already enrolled in the group before they choose. Once a student has chosen a group within a self-enrollment category, Desire2Learn will not prompt them to choose another group in that category.

Viewing and changing group enrollment

You can view the group enrollment for an entire class by clicking on the Enroll Users button. You can change the enrollment for any student or group by clicking the appropriate check boxes. Remember to click the Save button. It is possible for a student to be a member of more than one group within each category, but the only way to make this happen is for you to go to the Enroll Users page for that category. None of the auto- or self-enrollment options will place a student in more than one group per category.

Changing group names

Students see the group name of each of their groups. To change group names, select the category from the View Categories menu on the Manage Groups page. This shows all groups within that category. Click on a group name to edit it.

Sections

Sections are set up automatically for all classes, with each section matching the enrollment component of a course in PeopleSoft. Every Desire2Learn course offering with students has at least one section, and it may have more:
  • Cross-listed classes have one section for each enrollment component
  • Science lab classes have one section for each associated lab
  • Multiple-enrollment classes have one section for each class grouped by that instructor
Like groups, sections can be used to control student access to course material through release conditions. Also, you can view your grades area by section, which may ease entering grade data.
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