STUDENT GROUPS AND BLACKBOARD
Blackboard – some basics
To be able to explain about groups and how they can best be used it is first necessary to provide some basic background on Blackboard.
The Blackboard environment at Westminster breaks down into two broad components:
Blackboard Learn Ultra
This is the part that provides Blackboard sites for each of our modules. It is for asynchronous online learning, where students may go at anytime during a week to access materials or to contribute to discussion boards or read messages or submit coursework
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
This is the live classroom environment where everyone gathers together in a virtual space at the same time. It is for synchronous online learning.
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Blackboard Learn Ultra are integrated systems. A student can be looking at the content in a Blackboard site in Blackboard Learn Ultra in one browser tab and then move to a Blackboard Collaborate live class open in another browser tab. In other words, they can move between these two ‘virtual spaces’ seamlessly, going from synchronous to asynchronous online learning environments with a single click.
You can have groups in Blackboard Learn Ultra and in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. At this time however, there is no connection between groups formed in these two parts of Blackboard.
In Blackboard Learn Ultra you can organise students that have access to a module Blackboard site into group sets. Groups sets can be generated randomly, or they can be set to permit students to self-enrol or they can be custom (see table below).
Students are randomly assigned to the number of groups you choose. You need at least four students, so the system can randomly assign students to at least two groups.
You can ask students to self-enrol in course groups. Only students may join. Students receive a course announcement and an activity stream notification about groups they need to join.
Students see Join a group and New in the Details & Actions panel on the Course Content page. You can also add an enrolment period. Students are notified when the enrolment deadline approaches. When the enrolment period ends, students can no longer join groups, and they’re enrolled automatically.
You can create a single, custom group or as many groups as you want, with any number of students in each group. Students need to added by an instructor, one by one to each group. This can obviously be time consuming for large cohort classes.
Once you have group sets established in a Blackboard Learn Ultra site you can use these group sets for various actions including:
Messaging each group
Providing each group with a private group asynchronous discussion area
Creating a group assignment (each group will then have access to a private group Blackboard Collaborate space for their work together)