Canvas Groups

The Canvas Group Sets / Groups tool allows instructors to split students up into smaller working groups for collaborative assignment work and discussions.  When you set up the groups, each group is provided a “Group Site” with various tools that they can use to facilitate collaboration.  Instructors can create and assign Canvas Discussion and Canvas Assignment activities to a group set for the purpose of collecting and monitoring group work.  

Why use Canvas Groups?

Canvas Groups is a way to facilitate small group work within Canvas.  Groups each receive their own Canvas workspace or "Group Site" which functions almost like a mini Canvas course for group members.  Within the Group Site, members of the group can create and manage asynchronous Discussions, synchronous Conferences, and can collaborate on digital content via their own Group Files and Group Pages.  

Canvas Groups also integrates with Canvas native tools like Assignments and Discussions so that instructors can assign graded (or ungraded) activities for group members to work on and submit as a team.  Groups also integrates with the Canvas Inbox (or Conversations) tool so instructors can send targeted messages to group members.

Instructors can set up group membership (manually or have Canvas randomly assign students) or groups can be self-joinable so students can pick their group.

Use Cases for Canvas Groups

Canvas groups can be used for any type of small group activities.  Below are some examples of how Canvas Groups could work in your course.

  • Collaboration for group projects/presentations
  • Splitting large enrollment courses down into smaller segments for asynchronous discussion assignments
  • Community building
  • Study groups
How do I use Canvas Groups in my course?

Canvas Groups are created and managed through the People Tool.  Instructors/TAs/Guest Instructors can create group sets by going to the People tool and clicking on the Groups tab.  Here, instructors will set up to two components of Canvas Groups - Group Sets and the coordinating Groups they contain.

Groups Sets vs Groups

Group Sets are collections of Groups.  Instructors can create multiple Group Sets in their course to accommodate different combinations of students for different projects.  Each Group Set will contain the appropriate number of groups between which the students should be assigned.  

NOTE:  A student can only be assigned to one Group within a specific Group Set.  

Group Sets and Groups Diagram Showing How Students Can Be Assigned
Creating a Group Set

In your Canvas course, go to the People Tool [1] and then click on + Group Set [2].

Creating group sets is done through the People tool in your Canvas course site.

In the Create Group Set pop-up, you will set up the information and settings needed for your groups:

  1. Group Set Name
  2. Self Sign-Up Settings - use these if you want students to pick which group they want to join
    NOTE:  If your course has multiple Canvas course sections (as see in the People tool under the section enrollments column), you can select the option to restrict students so that they can only be in groups with classmates that are in the same Canvas course section choose this setting,
  3. Group Structure Settings
    1. Choose to split your students evenly between a N number of groups**
    2. Choose to split your students so that N number of students are in each group**
    3. Choose to manually create groups later

** Automatically create groups will be titled with the Group Set Name followed by a number.  

Group Set Settings allow instructors create pre-set or self-join groups where the instructor manually creates groups or has Canvas automatically generate groups.

NOTE:  Instructor and TA level users do not need to added to group sets/groups.  Instructor and TA level roles by default have access to all group sets and groups.

Groups View Page

After you have created a group set, you will able to view the details of your group set on the Groups View.  Access this page by clicking on the People Tool button [1] in your course navigation menu and then click on the Groups tab [2].  Below is a description of what you will see on the Groups View page:

Group view page shows your Group Sets, Groups, settings, and enrollments.

[3] - A listing of all the groups within the current group set.
[4] - The expand arrow will allow you to show/hide the list of group members an individual group.
[5] - The expanded view of a group, showing the names of the student group members.
[6] - The More Options menu for an individual group appears as the three stacked dots button to the far right of the group name.
[7] - Under the More Options menu [6], instructors and TAs can use the View Group Homepage button to look in on group work that is managed through Canvas Quizzes.  NOTE:  Instructors/TAs are only guaranteed access to group work that is done specifically in the Group Site.
[8] - List of students that are not yet assigned to a group in this group set.  REMINDER:  Students can only be a member of one group within each group site.
[9] - Import groups tool - can be used to quickly assign students to groups.  TIP:  When you are on the import CSV page upload page, download the template copy of the Canvas Roster and use that file to recreate your enrollments.
[10] - Use the +Group button to create new groups in the current Group Set as needed.
[11] - The More Options menu for the Group Set.  Allows instructors the ability to modify Group Set settings.

Manually Managing Group Membership

To manage group membership, go to the People tool [1] in your course and click on the appropriate group set tab [2].  On the Groups View page, you can see a list of unassigned students [3] and the list of Groups [4] in your Group Set with the current list of members (you may need to click the expand arrow [5] to view student names).

To manage group members you must go to the People tool and then to the group set where you can view and manage group membership.

Assigning Unassigned Students

To the left of the groups list, you will see the unassigned students list.  To add these unassigned students to a group, simply drag their name from the unassigned students list and drop it on the Group in which you want this student to be a member.

Drag unassigned student names to the group in which they should be a member.

Moving Students From One Group to Another

To move a student between Groups, simply drag the students name from the current group member list and drop onto the group in which you want the student to be a member.

Drag student names from one group to another to change their group membership.

You can have multiple Group Sets but students can only be a member of ONE group within each Group Set.  

Viewing Group Site Pages

When using Canvas Groups, each group gets a shared Canvas workspace called a Group Site.  Instructor and TA level users can access all group sites to monitor/participate in group collaboration.  Because they have access to all groups, instructors and TAs access the group sites differently than students.

To view the group sites, go to the People Tool [1] in your course and click on the appropriate Group Set tab [2].  Find the specific group you want to view the site for and click on the more options three-dot menu [3] and select Visit Group Homepage [4].

Instructors and TAs can view any group site by going to the Group Set under the People tool and selecting the Visit Group Homepage option.

Once you are in a Group Site, you can quickly move to other group sites by clicking on the Switch Group menu [5] and selecting a different group [6].  If you want to move back to the main course site, click the course link in the upper breadcrumb trail menu [7].

When viewing a group site, use the Switch Group menu to move between group sites or click the course link in the breadcrumb menu to go back to the main course.
What will my students see?

Accessing Groups Sites

Students can access their group sites in one of two ways:

OPTION 1: Go to the Groups button [1] in the left-side navigation menu and then click on the appropriate group name [2].

OPTION 2: From within the course, from the Home page [3] select the appropriate group from the Course Groups area [4].

Viewing and Using the Group Site

Once the group site is open, the student view will display with in a similar fashion as a Canvas course site.  In the group site, students have the ability to create and upload content - almost like they are an instructor in the group site space.  Below are some links for students on how to upload and create content in their shared group space.

Student view of the group site