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What are Groups?

What are Groups?

Groups are a small version of a course and used as a collaborative tool where students can work together on group projects and assignments.

Instructor View

Instructor View

Instructors can create groups for students to collaborate on group assignments, pages, collaborations, and more. Instructors can also allow students to create their own groups.

Learn more about Groups: Group Creation and Management for Instructors (Video)

Within Groups, instructors can:

  • View all activity within all the groups within their course, including groups created by students as noted in the instructor's Student Groups tab (by default students will be allowed to create their own groups as noted in the Course Details tab)
  • View all created groups within the course
  • Manually or automatically create groups within a group set
  • Manually or automatically assign students to groups within a group set
  • Assign group leaders to each group
  • Allow students to sign up for their own groups  
  • Expand and collapse subgroups
  • Move students into different subgroups
  • Create group collaborations

When Should I Use Groups as an Instructor?

As an instructor, create groups to:

  • Set up student group configurations at the course level for assignments and in-class work, both graded and ungraded.
  • Facilitate semester-long projects so that students can communicate and iterate on documents together.
  • Facilitate faculty professional development and institutional committees or activities.
  • Facilitate student-run study groups within courses or at the account level.

Student View

Student View

Students can use groups as a collaborative tool to work with classmates on group projects and assignments.

Learn more about Groups: Group Creation and Interaction for Students (Video)

Within groups, students can:

  • View the groups list
  • View the groups they are enrolled in
  • Join a student group
  • Create a student group
  • Store and share Files
  • Start a Discussion
  • Send a message
  • Create group collaborations

When Should I Use Groups as a Student?

As a student, create groups to:

  • Create study groups
  • Collaborate on projects and assignments

This guide was so helpful! Thanks @CanvasDocTeam 

As faculty, how can I communicate with a group?

can I send emails or some other messaging to a group?

There are a section of guides on groups that may help answer some of your questions.  

To your specific question, How do I send a message to a user in a group in th... - Canvas Community should help

CAN I assign things to groups only instead of sections

I tried to let students make their own groups for an assignment. They could not see the assignment tab after clicking on "people". Is there a way to do this. The group was set up to allow "self signup"  

WHat did we do wrong?

This class is a cross linked course with 7 sections. We also said they must be in their own section. 


You sure can!

Please view this lesson for more information: How do I assign an assignment to a course group?


Hello @jryter1,

Can the students see the assignment from the Assignments page in the course? (Rather than trying to access it from the Groups page.)


I made an assignment. I made it an peer review assignment with groups and set it up so they could add themselves to each group. This may be my problem. The manuals say they can go to People, select the group and add themselves.

They can see the assignment fine. But under people they can see "student groups" only and not the "How to use a balance" that I put in the assignment. I looked at a students computer.

people.JPGSo they added their groups to the student groups which isn't linked to the assignment. I went in and added them to groups by hand to the "how to use a balance" tab after clicking on people. So my problem was getting them into groups correctly. Must be an order of operations...  I need to read your link above again before trying again.

@jryter1 yes I believe this may be an order of operations issue. In the future, we usually recommend creating the group set first and allowing students to sign up for groups before you add the group set to the group assignment. It tends to work better for students seeing the group set/page, assigning the group assignment, and for grades later on if you create and assign groups first and then create the group assignment. Let us know if you have any other questions.


- Nathan

I learned a lot.

We are in a Hybrid learning model at school with students split between A days and B days. Without creating a new course, is there a way to create an A group and a B group and assign each student in that group an individual assignment?

@jdopheide We have the same question and I think that the answer is NO, you can't assign an individual assignment to a group. By the nature of the "group" you're creating one assignment for the group. Unfortunately, we've learned this lesson the hard way and teachers are feeling frustrated and out of options. The first person who submits the assignment is doing so for the "group" and only one submission is accepted and can't be tied back to an individual student. 


@CanvasDocTeam how can we best organize cohorts within a section that need multiple due dates because they're on campus different days? 


It sounds like you need to divide your course into sections instead of groups so that you can then assign assignments with different due dates to different sections. Although it might get a bit convoluted, you can even create and assign students to multiple sections if needed, which sounds like what you might need (for example, if you have Biology 101 Section 001 and Section 002 in the same course, you can also create Biology 101 Section 001 A Day and Biology 101 Section 001 B Day and assign students based on days they attend class).

It sounds like you may need an A day section and a B day section (or whatever works best for how your course is set up). Then you can set up assignments like this: assign "Assignment 1" to the A Day section to be due on Monday at 10pm and the B Day section to be due on Tuesday at 10pm, etc. The links we posted above for sections should get you started with setting those up.

Let us know if you have any other questions.


- Nathan

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