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Make Group Assignments Respect Sections

Make Group Assignments Respect Sections

(5)
Idea:

Include an option in the People tool to create a group for each section.

 

Problem:

It is very labor intensive to add a whole section of students to a group (some of our sections have 300+ students)

 

Use Cases:

Instructor needs to share select resources with a section

Instructor needs to have discussions available to specific section

Instructor needs to share Content Pages with a specific section

Instructor needs to conference with a specific section

 

Mockup:

88443_Canvas_Section-Groups.pngCanvas_Section-Groups.png

Implementation Consideration:

  • The groups would need to stay synchronized as section membership is updated
  • Would need to account for the case where a section is added after the Groups were setup

 

 

NOTE: This is a more tightly scoped request based on the thinking from More section control for group creation

53 Comments
Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team

johnpj

Rather than have sections duplicate as groups, would it make more sense to request the ability to release or assign content by section?  Your Use cases are already framed this way.

  • Instructor needs to share select resources with a section
  • Instructor needs to have discussions available to specific section
  • Instructor needs to share Content Pages with a specific section
  • Instructor needs to conference with a specific section
johnpj
Community Contributor

 @Renee_Carney  It would indeed be useful to be able to release or assign content by section. In fact there are idea requests we have added or voted on that speak to that. But to the crux of my request, having a group site for a section is an immensely useful way to segment content in a more obvious and holistic way. We know this is useful because we have many faculty manually creating and maintaining groups for all their sections now; which requires a lot of time and effort they could probably spend more usefully elsewhere. We did create an API script that I can run to create groups for each section, but it is not scalable for me to do that for all of our courses.

And having done development on instructional applications for 25 years, I can fairly confidently say it would be much easier to leverage the existing groups functionality for sections members then to add the section awareness to each of the tools mentioned above individually. In other words, you gain a lot of functionality with a fairly minor change.

Thank you for your comments Renee. They are greatly appreciated.

jthoms
New Member

I'd suggest a slightly different approach.

By adding the ability to split students into X groups while ensuring that they remain in the same section, you could achieve two ends: 1) create groups that are not equal to sections but maintain section boundaries when automatically creating, and 2) the above feature request -- assuming the user enters the same number of sections as there are in the course.

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team

This idea is now open for voting.

emily
Community Champion

This is so logical, I was surprised to find out groups are not actually formed automatically by section.

RobDitto
Community Champion

Great to see so much energy around this idea!

Our institution has the need for section boundaries for a subset of groups within a category, as well as the need from the archived   and the new .  I'd be happy to collaborate on the section boundaries idea further.

One of our typical faculty use cases for section boundaries is:

  • I teach three sections of the same course, one undergraduate and two graduate.
  • Groups in my course use self-signup must be all graduate students or all undergraduate students.
  • I use different size limits for the graduate and undergraduate groups.
  • I want my groups to be as full as possible, so I offer only exactly as many as needed.

To make this work, the designer tries to guide students to join one of the "right" groups by using a combination of group naming convention and the "Require group members to be in the same section" setting.  This doesn't always work.  The first student to join the "wrong" group will make that group unavailable for the "right" students to join.

hesspe
Community Champion

I'd like to "third" to John Thompson's suggestion.  Our group submitted the request that  @RobDitto  refers to: " style="color: #2989c5; which, as Rob notes, would be taken care of by the approach suggested by John.  Extending Group functionality to sections seems to make so much sense, unless there are architectural barriers.  If so, that would be useful to know.

hesspe
Community Champion

John, as I try to think this through, I think some rephrasing might be in order.  Suppose you have a course with 3 sections.  Do you tell Canvas to split students into three groups maintaining section boundaries?  Suppose you tell Canvas to split students into 4 groups, while maintaining section boundaries - what does it do with the extra students?  What I think would be clearer is to offer instructors the option to randomly assign students to X groups per section, maintaining section boundaries.  The X would be "1" to create a group for each section. Does this cover all of the uses you had in mind?

jthoms
New Member

Great suggestion,  @hesspe ​ :smileycool:

By adding a blank for the number of groups per section, it would be possible to have either groups = sections or uneven assignment of groups as you described. It also is a lot easier to figure out to type 1 group per section, than to dig out the number of sections in the course.

sworrell
New Member

Moodle actually did this pretty well. When an instructor goes to make a new announcement there was the option for all students in the course or and individual section.

Having to make a group when you already have a section just to send an announcement to a section seems convoluted to me.

Canvas- Make an announcement drop down or check box option to send to individual sections. Have the default setting be to the whole course.

RobDitto
Community Champion

 @sworrell ​, I couldn't agree more with:

Having to make a group when you already have a section just to send an announcement to a section seems convoluted to me.

We still do this at our institution for certain multi-section courses, however.  I'm hopeful that the Product Team's comment that they might revisit will lead to improvements.

johnpj
Community Contributor

There are certainly many cases where you would just want tools like Announcements, Discussions, Modules, to be section aware (and I have created and supported idea requests for those), but in some cases it is very convenient and desirable to have a group site for a section. It makes for a nice way to contain section-specific activities and resources.

carrie
Instructure
Instructure

I see many use cases for this, most recently in medical education. I want to add that the TA (or Custom Role based on TA) assigned to Section be also assigned to the Group, perhaps as Group Leader by default.

- Group Mentor/Facilitator needs to easily find and manage their assigned Groups (without the distraction of 50 other groups in the list)

- Group Mentor/Facilitator needs to be able to Grade Students on Discussions assigned to Groups

- Group Mentor/Facilitator needs to be able to Grade Group Assignments

- Group Mentor/facilitator needs to be able to message entire Group or individual Students as needed

allison
Instructure
Instructure

John,

Thank you so much for sharing your idea. It sounds like maintaining group enrollments so that they match section enrollments is a barrier that keeps users from using groups more often. I'm going to restate what I think* it is that you are asking for. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

As an instructor, I can link section enrollments to any group in my course (including more than one group), so that if the section enrollments change, the group enrollments change as well.

-- Students that are added to a section manually or automatically via SIS provisioning are also added to group enrollments.

-- Students that are deleted from a section manually or automatically via SIS provisioning are also added to group enrollments.

-- Students that are deleted from a group lose access to collaborations and conferences created in the context of the group.

-- Students that are deleted from a group cease to receive notifications from that group and they are denied access to the group via any notifications sent while they were a member.

-- Students that are deleted from a group can no longer message members of that group via Conversations.

-- Students that are deleted from a group cannot access Announcements, Pages, or Files.

-- Discussion posts, attachments, and files contributed by the deleted student remain visible to other members of the group. (TBD: Personal files in the group area no longer count against the student's quota)

-- Students that are added back to a section re-gain access to all group features, including collaborations and conferences they had access to before and any new collaborations or conferences that were created since being removed from the group.

Those are my initial thoughts around what it would take to implement this. I'm relying on the brilliant folks on this thread to help me add to or remove from the list. I would love to pitch this to our engineers and find out how difficult this would be to implement.

Thanks all! Look forward to your additional comments.

Allison

johnpj
Community Contributor

Deactivated user Thanks for your assistance in moving this issue forward. I have included some comments below on your synopsis of the requirements.

As an instructor, I can link section enrollments to any group in my course (including more than one group), so that if the section enrollments change, the group enrollments change as well.

You've got it; It's clear from our account analytics that we've had poor adoption of the Group functionality, despite an emphasis in many of our programs on project-based and team-based learning. When we ask faculty about why they are not using groups, the primary response is that they are difficult to setup and manage for their sections.

-- Students that are added to a section manually or automatically via SIS provisioning are also added to group enrollments.

Yes, this is the key requirement we're looking for.

-- Students that are deleted from a section manually or automatically via SIS provisioning are also added to group enrollments.

I believe this statement above should read: "Students that are deleted from a section manually or automatically via SIS provisioning are also
added to removed from group enrollments.

-- Students that are deleted from a group lose access to collaborations and conferences created in the context of the group.

-- Students that are deleted from a group cease to receive notifications from that group and they are denied access to the group via any notifications sent while they were a member.

-- Students that are deleted from a group can no longer message members of that group via Conversations.

-- Students that are deleted from a group cannot access Announcements, Pages, or Files.

Yes, students that are removed from groups should no longer have access to participate in that group's activities.

-- Discussion posts, attachments, and files contributed by the deleted student remain visible to other members of the group. (TBD: Personal files in the group area no longer count against the student's quota)

-- Students that are added back to a section re-gain access to all group features, including collaborations and conferences they had access to before and any new collaborations or conferences that were created since being removed from the group.

Correct, we want to maintain the integrity of a student's past participation in a group even if they are removed later from that group.

I would be happy to provide any additional information you might need to progress this important capability. Many thanks.

jthoms
New Member

Hi Deactivated user,

Woah, that's some breakdown of the possibilities :smileyshocked:

There's still one additional use case I'm hoping to catch in this request: automatically creating x groups of students in the same section. Currently, only self assigned groups have the ability to be contained within a section, and it would be useful to have multiple automatically created groups of students in one section.

I suggested one way this might be achieved, above, and there seemed to be a bit of traction around it.

Thanks!

sworrell
New Member

"Announcements" are actually just "Discussions" correct? And, can't you split discussions into sections with different due dates and all? So, from my VERY uninformed eye, seems like it should easy(?) to do the same for announcements? I don't need all these complicated suggestions about groups in sections, sections in groups, etc. Just a way to direct an announcement to 1) by default, to all enrolled, and 2) by course sections.

kristin_bayless
Community Contributor

We conclude enrollments when students are withdrawn instead of deleting them.  I hope the "delete" scenarios mentioned above actually mean delete/conclude.  The only time an enrollment would be deleted would be if there was an error and problem resolution dictated this step.

I agree with John in that our teachers would like the ability to auto-generate groups within the same section.

bourjaim
New Member

There absolutely needs to be more options/control for creating groups within sections.  Right now, I have to create "self-sign up" groups and then manually drag students into them in order to restrict the groups by section.  Otherwise, if it creates groups by drawing from my entire course enrollment, I can't have groups work in class to follow-up on and extend their discussions.

spiros_loukopou
New Member

Interesting thread all around.

I have a few professors that have multiple sections housed in one main Canvas Course. They can create groups randomly, which is a nice tool for them, but they cannot have them randomized within specific sections. The pedagogical value of having all the content in one master course is immense, but not being able to keep groups organized by section defeats the point to some extent. Has there been a resolution to this?

Thanks!

Spiros - Kellogg Northwestern