The two main steps in this tutorial are to first create small groups for your class, and then to generate discussion forum topics for these small groups so that students can post and reply to a Discussion Forum only within their own group.

Step One: Creating Small Groups

1. On your D2L course site, click on [Groups] on the upper navigation bar.



2. On the Manage Groups page, click on [New Category]

New Cat

3. In the text box beside [Category Name], type a name for your groups.


4. Click on the drop-down arrow next to [Enrollment Types] to see your options.

NOTE: Several different [Enrollment Types] are available. The [Groups of #] is a common setting. However, this setting can cause issues, especially in large enrollment courses. The initial setup will create a certain number of groups and corresponding discussion topics. If [Auto Enroll New Users] is selected in Step #7, additional groups will be created as additional students enroll in the course. However, while additional groups will be automatically created, additional discussion topics WILL NOT be automatically created. As a result, you will have late enrolling students who do not have access to a discussion topic and you will be unaware of the issue.  For large enrollment courses, it is recommended that you select [# or Groups] in order to keep the groups and the corresponding discussion topics stable as enrollment changes.
This tutorial will describe creation of groups using the [Groups of #] enrollment type. Other types of enrollment include automatic enrollment according to the number of groups desired, student self-selected enrollment, or manual enrollment by an instructor, and are created by following the corresponding prompts. 

5. Select   [Groups of #]   to enroll a specific number of students per group automatically and at random :

6. Type the [Number of Users] (i.e., students) per group.

The recommended size of the groups depends upon what they will be doing.

  • If they will be completing a small group project, 5-7 is an appropriate number
  • If they are merely discussing a  topic or problem, 12-15 is a better number

You may want to err on the higher side of those ranges in case one or more students drops the course, fails to participate, etc.


7. OPTIONAL: Check   [Auto Enroll New Users] to automatically assign students to a group, at the time they are enrolled into your course. Please see “Note:” under step #4 to review potential issues related to [Auto Enroll New Users].

8. OPTIONAL: Leave the [Randomize Users in Groups] box checked to randomly assign students to groups.

9. Click  [Save]  to complete the process.

10. OPTIONAL: To see your groups, click on [Enroll Users]  in the dropdown menu to the right of your   Group Category.


11. OPTIONAL: From the [Enroll Users] page, you can easily move specific individuals from one group to another, using the check boxes.

NOTE: If you use the same small discussion groups the entire semester, you can skip this step after you’ve set up the groups for the first time. If, however, you decide to change the way your groups are enrolled, you need to go through the entire process again. You can have as many    [Group Categories]  as you need!


Step Two: Setting Up Discussion Group Restrictions

1. Click   [Discussions]  on the navbar

2. Click [New] and select [Forum] in the dropdown menu.   IMPORTANT! Do NOT create any topics for the forum yet!



3. Type a [Title] for your Forum

4. Click on   [SAVE AND CLOSE]     (remember, do NOT create a topic! That’s next.)



5. Click on  the  [Group Restrictions]   tab.



6. Confirm that have chosen the correct [Group Category] (the one you just created)

7. Confirm that you have chosen the correct [Forum]

8. Click on  the link entitled  [Automatically Create Restricted Topics]

CAUTION! This is a key step, but very easy to miss!


9. Check again to ensure that you have selected the right   [Group Category]   and the right [Forum]

10. Click on    [Create]



11. You will see a table that lists the Discussion Forum name (left justified) and a Discussion Topic (indented beneath the Forum) that is named for each Group. The checkboxes to the right indicate that each Discussion  Topic  is restricted to its correspondingly-named Group. Click [Save].



12. In the main D2L navbar, click [Discussions]

13. In the Discussions area,  as the instructor, you will see all of the topics. Each student, however, will see only the topic that is restricted to her/his small group.



14. OPTIONAL: Click on [Edit] from the dropdown menu next to the topics from this screen to edit the names of the topics, if desired.


D2L 10.1 November 2013