Category Archives: 2. Creating and syncing groups

Defining Groups

Before it can conduct an a peer assessment WebPA needs a list of students and needs to know which groups they are allocated to.

WebPA pulls the list of enrolled students from Blackboard when ever you use the Sync tool.  Sync will also populate WebPA with group enrolments from any Group Sets defined in the Blackboard Module.

You can define student groups in a number of ways.  The most suitable method will depend on:

  • The number of students involved
  • Whether you wish to give students access to group features in Blackboard
  • Whether you already have an electronic list of students and group membership

 Option 1: Define groups in  WebPA

This is a fast way of working if you have a small cohort of students.  You use sync to populate student details in WebPA then use the group editor in WebPA.

See: Create a link to WebPA then WebPA group Editor

Option 2: Define groups in Blackboard

Here you define a Group Set in Blackboard and populate the group membership in Blackboard. WebPA sync populates student details and group membership.   See:  Create and Populate Group Sets in Blackboard.

Create and Populate Group Sets

  • Sign into your Blackboard course.  In the Control Panel area open Users and Groups and select Groups.
  • Click Create select Manual Enrol from the right hand options under Group Set

Create Group Set

Fill out the fields on the Create Group Set form.

  1. You’ll need to specify a name (eg PosterGroup)
  2. Make the groups available (you can hide them if needed after you synchronise the completed groups)
  3. Turn on any tools that you would like students to have access to in these Blackboard groups.  If these will not be useful, you should uncheck them
  4. Turn off Personalisation
  5. Specify the number of groups

Blackboard then creates the groups and takes you to Edit Group Set Enrolments

If you are working with a small number of students you may wish to manually populate the groups:Select group members

  • Click Submit when you are finished.


If you have a large cohort of students, and already have a list of group members, it will be more efficient to use the Batch Allocate Groups tool to populate groups.

  • Click Submit to accept the group sets without defining memberships

Blackboard shows the group names and group sets

Group List

  • Prepare a CSV file with the username in the first column and the groupname in the second column.
    • This file does not require a header row
    • You can use NUContacts Search By Module  to give a starting list of users and ids
    • Make sure the text in the second column matches the groupnames you’ve defined in Excel.
CSV file
  • Back in Blackboard, on the Control Panel click Expand Course Tools and click Batch Allocate Groups

CSV upload

  • Click Allocate by CSV File Upload  and browse to your prepared CSV
  • Click Submit

You will see a summary of results (if there are any errors you will need to investigate these)

Summary of results

You now have groups defined and are ready to create a WebPA Assessment.

Upload Errors during Batch Allocate Groups

We’ve seen a couple of potential sources of errors from the Batch Upload:

An individual student is not added to the specified group:

  • Check that the student’s id is correct and that they are registered on the course

The Groups are not populated properly

  • Check that the group names on your CSV exactly match the group names in the group set.




Create a Link to WebPA

Once your groups are set up go to the content area of your course where you would like to place the WebPA assessment.

From the Assessments Tab Select the bottom Link WebPA(pilot) WebPA on Assessment Menu

Fill out the on-screen form:

1. Give the assessment a name eg  Poster Presentation and type in a description to appear on the course page:

Name Item

2. Personal Data:  leave all these settings as “Required by tool”

3. Custom Parameters: leave this blank

4. Services:  here you can define whether you wish this WebPA tool to create a column in the grade centre.  Final WebPa scores can be pushed directly to the grade centre if required.

5. Select the date and time when you would like this item to be shown in Blackboard.  You could set this to the time the assessment “opens”

6. Groups:  Selecting specific groups here will restrict the visibility of the WebPA assessment to just the selected groups.  If everyone on the course is doing the assessment you can leave this blank.

Click Submit

The WebPA assessment tool will be created on your course page:

Peer Assessment Item


Syncing Groups and Users in WebPA

When you click on your WebPA assessment item you will be taken through to WebPA’s interface.

The first time you use WebPA in your course you need to click sync data.  This uploads users and group memberships to WebPA.  (You should also do this if groups or students change before your assesment starts.)

sync data

  • Put a check mark next to any new collections (Collections are WebPA’s terminology for Group Sets)

synchronise data

  • Click Update WebPA OS

You should see “Updates Completed”

If you haven’t used WebPA before you will now need to create a set of questions that the students will answer for the assessment.  You can do this by creating a WebPA form.


WebPA group editor

WebPA has its own group editor which you can use if you have chosen not to define  groups via a Blackboard Group Set.  (If your groups are already synched from Blackboard skip over this item).

In WebPA use the Sync Data option to refresh the list of students on the module.

Click on Create Groups icon, or create new groups wizard

Enter a name for the new collection eg. Poster Groups.

Then, state the number of groups the prefix used for the groups and the numbering style. The example below will create 2 groups “Group 1” and “Group 2”

Click Next then Finish.

To allocate students to groups click the link to start the Group Editor

Edit the membership of groups using the edit tool

Use the radio buttons to assign students to this group:

Repeat the process for the other groups.