eClass Support
Setting Up Groups
Last modified on 04 July 2023 03:37 PM

When you combine multiple course sections in a single eClass course, students are automatically assigned to groups based on the course sections they registered in when registering for your course (LEC, LAB, SEM, etc.).

You can also create additional groups to divide students for other purposes such as participation in group projects or, in large courses, to filter and divide grading tasks among TAs.

If students are in multiple groups but need different groups for different group projects, you will also need to create groups of groups called Groupings which we treat in a separate article and, briefly, below.

Activities that have groups enabled allow instructors and TAs to filter contributions with three different group modes:

  • No groups: All students can view and participate in the activity.
  • Separate groups: Only students within the same group can see and participate together in this group activity.
  • Visible groups: Students can see all other groups' activities, but they can only participate in their own group's activities.

There are two main steps to setting up groups:

  1. creating the groups you want to use, and
  2. setting the group mode in the activity or content where you want group participation.

Creating Groups

To create Groups, 

1. Click on the Participants tab at the top of your course page.

2. Click on the Enrolled users dropdown menu and select Groups:

3. On the Groups page, you will see two panels: the Groups panel on the left will list the different groups in your course, and the Members of panel on the right shows the members in the highlighted group.

4. Click the Create group button below the Groups panel.

5. Complete the setup with your group information.

  • 'Group name': Name your group; for example, 'Study Group 1'.
  • 'Group description': Give your group a description so you can better remember what this group was defined for.

6. Click the Save changes at the bottom of the page when you are finished.

Manually Adding Users

To manually add users to your group,

1. Click on the name of the group you just created in the Groups column to select it, then click the Add/remove users button beneath the Members of column.

2. On the Add/remove users page, you will again see two columns: the left (Group members) shows the current members of your group, and the right (Potential members) shows the people enrolled in your course.

3. Click on a user's name to select them (highlighted in blue), then click the Add button between the two columns to move them into your group.

4. You may also use the Shift key to select a block of users (click user, hold Shift, click another user). Or, you can use the Control key (Ctrl) (or Command key (Cmd) on a Mac) to select multiple users that are not in a row (hold Ctrl while selecting multiple users).

5. If there are too many users to show all at once, you may use the Search box below to narrow the list of potential group participants.

6. When you finsihed, click Back to groups at the bottom of the page.

Auto-Creating Groups

As an alternative to manually creating groups, you can create groups automatically while adding participants randomly.

1. Click the Auto-create groups button under the Groups panel.

2. In Auto-create groups setup you can specify either the number of groups you would like to create, or the number of members you would like to have in each group:

  • 'Naming scheme': Use @ to differentiate by letters, or # to differentiate by numbers. For example, Group @ = Group A, Group B, Group C. Alternatively, Team # = Team 1, Team 2, Team 3.
  • 'Auto create based on': Choose either 'Number of groups' or 'Members per group'.
  • 'Group/member count': Specify the number of groups or number of members per group.
  • 'Select members with role': Select a particular role if you want to pull only users enrolled in your course in that role. Example: you could use this to create a group out of all the TAs. in your course.
  • 'Select members from grouping': Select students already belonging to a group in the given grouping. Example: you could use this if you wanted to take a specific grouping and create a larger group out of all the smaller groups currently assigned to the grouping.
  • 'Select members from group: Select students already belonging to the given group. Example: you could use this if you wanted to take existing larger groups and further break them down into random smaller groups.
  • 'Allocate members': Randomly, alphabetical (by first or last name), by ID number.
  • 'Prevent last small group': Check this box to distribute members to existing groups as evenly as possible. This could especially be needed if you have specified the number of groups (as opposed to members per group)
  • 'Ignore users in groups': Check this box to have users already belonging to a group not be assigned to additional new auto-created groups.
  • 'Grouping of auto-created groups': If you would like to add these groups to a grouping, you can do so here.
  • 'Grouping name': If you are adding this group to a new grouping, specify the name of the grouping.

3. Once you are done, you can Preview the groups or Submit them:

4. After creating your groups, the Groups page will display a number after each name indicating the number of participants assigned to each group.

Setting group visibility in course content (Group mode)

To restrict viewing and participation in activities using the groups you have created, you have to set the Group mode in the 'Common module settings' for that activity:

1. Go to your course page, and click on Edit mode at the top right of your page.

2. Enter the settings for an activity or resource and choose Group mode under Common module settings:

3. Save when you are done.

Group Mode Examples for Forums

  • 'No groups': Choosing ‘No groups’ for a Forum activity will allow all members of the course to view the forum, as well as post new discussions and replies, regardless of what group they belong to. This is always chosen for every activity by default.
    • Example: Help forum (no groups) - Anyone in the class can post a question, respond and see all discussions.
  • 'Separate groups': Choosing ‘Separate groups’ for a Forum activity will essentially create separate discussion rooms for each individual group. Course participants can only see and post to their own group's discussion; all other group's discussions are completely invisible.
    • Example: Graded group discussion (separate groups) - These forums will be graded by group so you cannot see any other group's discussion points.
  • 'Visible groups': Choosing ‘Visible groups’ for Forum activities will create separate discussion rooms for each individual group that can be viewed by all participants in the course. However, participants will only be able to post and reply to forums set aside for their own group.
    • Example: Group project discussion (visible groups) - These forums are set up for students to discuss their group projects, but all have different topics so they can read about what other groups are doing but can only contribute to their own.

Running multiple course sections in a single eClass course: You can run multiple course sections in a single eClass course and vary the activities while keeping the static content the same by using groups.

    • Example: A group is automatically generated for each of the sections in a combined course. You can create a Wiki on Topic One restricted to Group A1 and a Wiki on Topic Two restricted to Group A2. Each student will only see the Wiki Topic of the group they belong to (either A1 or A2). Meanwhile, the syllabus (which is group independent) can be seen by all students.


Assigning students to multiple groups will create a conflict in any individual activity when the system attempts to assign the activity to all the groups in your course. If you want participants to work with different groups on different activities, then you will need to combine the groups for a particular activity in a Grouping. Please see the article Setting up Groupings.

To limit a specific activity or resource to only the members of a particular group, you will need to set Access restrictions instead of using the group mode.

For eClass courses containing combined sections, a group will be automatically created for each individual section in the course (eg. a group each for LEC A1, and LEC A2).

Any activity in eClass can be set so that it uses visible groups (groups can see each other), separate groups (groups cannot see each other's work) or no groups. In these scenarios, the SAME activity is delivered to students along one of these methods (for giving each group access to their own separate activity or content, you must use Access restrictions).

Ensure that you establish your group settings before your students begin participating in any activities where groups are being used. Changing group modes can cause problems in activities if you change group modes (visible, invisible, no groups) after students have begun to work in the activity. For example, if you set up a discussion forum and posts are made after group settings are added, posts made before the change are replicated in all groups’ forums.

You may wish to have groups set by default for your entire course - you can do this in your course settings. This does not automatically apply the group settings to already existing activities and resources but does apply them to any new ones created. The other benefit of setting a group mode at the course level is that the gradebook can be sorted based on sub-section groups. See Filtering Your Gradebook by Groups for more information.

Unless you have Visible groups enabled, switching a student from one group to another will remove their ability to see posts made to the first group forum while a member of that group. If Student Five was originally a member of Group A, he will not be able to view any posts or replies he made in Group A’s discussion forum after he is moved to Group B.

If a user is not in a group, they will be unable to view or participate in any group activities if group mode is set to Separate groups. If Group mode is set to Visible groups, students not placed in a group will be able to view discussions across all groups, but will be unable to contribute.

Instead of auto-creating or constructing groups by hand, it is also possible to have students self-select their group using an additional block in your course - see Using the Group Sign-up Block.

WARNING in regards to Group AssignmentsOnce submissions have been made, DO NOT alter the groups or groupings in any way. If groups or groupings need to be updated or changed, we recommend that you create new groups/groupings and re-deploy the assignment with the updated group settings. Failure to do so will result in lost student submission data and glitches with the assignment review.

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