Associating a Google Group with your course gives students a way to

  • ask questions
  • view and respond to questions that others have posted
  • collaborate on assignments
  • compare notes on course content

Students have access to the group via the Forums tab on the course navigation bar. They cannot join in one step, however. Students request access and you must approve their requests to make them members of the group.

In addition, as the instructor, you can use the group to

  • respond to student questions
  • get a sense of how well students are understanding your content
  • initiate discussions
  • create discussion-based activities and assignments by embedding the group in course content

Announcement-only groups

An announcement-only group is a mailing list that students join to receive announcements by email. This type of group is distinct from the typical Q&A group, and you create it with different settings. Your course can have either type of group or both types.

Help with Google Groups

On this page, you will learn how to set up and manage a group for your course.

Google Groups has many features and settings beyond what you will see here. If you have any questions about Google Groups, visit the Google Groups Help Center.

Create a Group

Make sure you are signed into a Google account with admin permissions for your course.

  1. Go to the Google Groups home page.

  2. At the top of the page, click CREATE GROUP.

  3. Give your group a name and create a Google Groups email address related to your course.

  4. For the Group Type, choose Q&A forum. (To create an announcement-only group, choose Email list instead.)

  5. Set some Basic Permissions. We recommend the following settings:

    • set View topics to Public.
    • set Post to All members of the group. (To create an announcement-only group, limit Post permissions to owners and managers of the group.)

    • set Join the group to Anyone can ask.

  6. Click CREATE at the top of the page.

  7. In the confirmation dialog, choose Customize your group’s settings to get to the Manage page of the group where you handle many tasks for your group including viewing and editing your group’s settings.

  8. From the lefthand menu, select Information > General information.

  9. Find the Topic types field and set it to Questions. (To create an announcement-only group, choose Discussions instead.)

You can always get back to the group’s Manage page to by clicking Manage on the right side of the group page above the topic list.

Customize Posting Permissions

If you are creating an announcement-only group, skip this section to leave the posting permissions as they are.

From the lefthand menu, select Permissions > Posting permissions.

Find two permissions and set both to All members of the group:

  • Mark Favorite Reply On Own Topic - lets the creator of the question choose the reply that he or she thinks answers the question best

  • Me Too Topic - lets other members of the group indicate that they have the same question

Allowing students to choose favorites and second questions encourages group participation and interaction among students.

Customize Moderation Permissions

If you are creating an announcement-only group, skip this section to leave the moderation permissions as they are.

From the lefthand menu, select Permissions > Moderation permissions.

Set the following permissions to All members of the group to enlist students’ help in maintaining the group’s overall quality.

  • Mark Duplicate - lets students prevent the group from getting bogged down with duplicate posts

  • Mark Favorite Reply on Any Topic and Unmark Favorite Reply on Any Topic - lets students upvote or downvote replies on all questions (topics)

Organize Questions with Categories

You can create categories to organize posts to your group. You can also create category groups to organize your categories.

Using categories and category groups provides a friendly hierarchical structure that lets students browse and find what they need.

Enable categories

From the lefthand menu, select Settings > Categories. Click Enable categories and add a category.

(If you do not add at least one category during this step, you will need to enable categories again later.)

Example category and category group hierarchy

Here is an example of a hierarchy for an interactive group for the course. The top level of the hierarchy is the category groups; the second level is the categories.

  • From Course Staff - Course staff posts here
    • Course announcements
    • Apply, share, and connect
    • Extra challenges and bonus material
    • Tips and tricks
  • Need Help? - Students post course-specific questions here
    • Unit 1
    • Unit 2
  • Course Feedback - Students comment on the course
    • Content feedback
    • Technology feedback

Integrate Group and Course

To get your group and course working together, you associate the group with your course so that students can access the group from a Forum tab on the course navigation bar.

In addition, you can

For an announcement-only group, skip ahead to see how to advertise the group. Announcement-only groups do not need to be associated with the course, and you probably won’t embed this type of group in your course content.

Associate group with course

In the Course Builder dashboard, select Settings > Forums.

In the Google Group Email field, enter the email for your group. It will look something like:

Entering a valid group email in this field adds a Forum tab for registered students on the course navigation bar.

Note that if your organization uses Google Groups for its own discussion forums, then you can use an existing group created within your organization. This group’s email might not end in, but you can still enter it here and associate it with your course.

Embed group in content

One of the components that you can add to course content is a Google Group. To embed a group, it must a group with an email address.

Learn about embedding a Google group using the content editor.

If you have set up your course’s registration so that students receive welcome emails, then you can include a link to your group in the welcome email template.

To create the link, you need the group URL:

  1. On the group’s Manage page, go to Information > General information.

  2. Find the URL under the Group email address field.

  3. Include this HTML (or something similar) in the welcome email body:

    <p>To participate in community discussions about this course, register for the web forum at
    <a href=""></a>.
    On that page, click on <b>Join Group</b>.</p>

    For an announcement-only group, include something like this:

    <p>To receive course announcements by email, register for the mailing list at
    <a href=""></a>.
    On that page, click on <b>Join Group</b>.</p>

Approve Join Requests

Before students can post questions to the group, you must approve their requests to join.

  1. Go to the group’s Manage page.

  2. In the lefthand menu, select Members > Join requests to show all the outstanding requests.

  3. Approve all requests by checking the box in the header row to the left of Pending Member and clicking Approve Applicant.