Using Google Course Groups

University of Minnesota instructors can create Google course groups for their classes based on data in the U of M PeopleSoft directory. The membership in these groups is synchronized twice daily. The groups can be used for sending email and sharing University of Minnesota Google resources. 

TIP: Google course groups will be created almost immediately, however the student and instructor members may not appear for up to 12 hours.

What Is a Google Course Group?

A Google Course Group is a Google group whose membership is made up of all instructors and students of record for that course. The source of membership is the U of M directory. The membership in the directory is synchronized to the University of Minnesota Google group twice daily.

  1. Class roster data is loaded from the U of M directory.
  2. Instructors create course groups based on that data in the directory.
  3. Synchronization of this data with the Google course group happens twice daily.

Auto member updates. Membership in a course group is updated automatically as students drop or add the class and as instructors for that class change. People who are not students registered for the class or instructors of record for the class cannot be added to the course group. Wait-listed students are not included in the group.

Auto class status updates. When a new class is added to the U of M directory, the option to create a Google course group is added.

Used for email and U of M Google resource sharing. Course groups can be used for sending email and for sharing U of M Google resources.

Created by instructors. Course groups must be created in by the instructor of record for the course. Instructors can see their course groups in the their Google Apps area under the My Groups page. Students enrolled in the course can also see this group. No one, not even the instructors, can find them by searching the directory.

Creating a Course Group

You must be listed as an instructor for a class to create a course group for it. The ability to create a course group cannot be delegated to anyone else. Once a course group has been created, all instructors for the class will see it listed in their course groups list in the Google Apps area under My Groups. A course group can generally be created for a course as soon as the course information, including the instructor(s) assigned to the course, is in the U of M directory.

  1. Go to the course request page: Request a Course Group.

    Log in with your University of Minnesota ID and enter your password.

  2. You will see a list of the courses for which you are an instructor. If a course group has not yet been created for a course, there will be a Create Group button to the right of the course name. To create a group for the course, click the Create Groupbutton to the far right of it. 

  3. Your course group will be created in U of M Google. You will receive an email verification that the group has been created. 
    IMPORTANT! It may take up to 12 hours for your group to be populated with students.

  4. The Create Group button will be replaced by the name of your new course group. Click the name to see the course group's profile page.

Deleting Course Groups

Course groups remain in University of Minnesota Google by default for 5 years and are then deleted automatically. If you want a course group deleted before its automatic deletion date, contact [email protected] with that request; you cannot delete it yourself. Note that once a course group has been removed from Google, all sharing with that group breaks and cannot be restored, even if the group is re-created.

Course Group Settings

Settings for course groups are automated to ensure compliance with FERPA. Course groups have these settings:

  • The group name is set automatically. The name consists of the course name, number, section, term, and campus.

  • Members are added automatically. Members include all instructors of record and students registered for a particular course. Wait-listed students are not included. Membership is updated automatically based on data in the U of M directory. Any changes that you make to membership will not persist beyond the point of membership update (12 hours).

  • Member list viewable by instructors only. Only instructors can see the member list.

  • Messages can be sent to group by members only. Only those listed as members of a course group can send email to that course group. Also, members must send mail to the group from an address in the form of uniqname@(campus) Google recognizes members by their email address rather than just by their uniqname.

    By default, all group members, instructors and students, can send mail to the course group, however an instructor can restrict posting rights for their group.

  • Course groups are not searchable. That is, no one, not even members of the group can search the U of M Google Directory for a course group and find it. The only way an instructor can see a course group of which they are a member is to look at their My Groups page.

Sending Email to Your Course Group

Your course group can be used for sending email and sharing resources as soon as it has been fully synchronized to the U of M directory. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to a day from the time you create the group.

  • Instructors can provide their students with the name of the group if they wish students to send mail to the group. Students can also see course groups in their My Groups area of Google Apps.

  • Creating groups of course groups. If you need to send email to multiple course groups (such as multiple sections of a course), you can create a group in U of M Google that contains one or more course groups. To create an official University of Minnesota group, Request a Course Group . Then add the course groups as subscribers to the container group.

Sharing U of M Google Resources with Your Group

To share a resource in Google, click the Share button in that resource.

Here are some things to keep in mind when sharing Google resources with course groups:

  • When you share an Google resource (such as an Google document) with a group or invite a group to an Google Calendar event, you do so by using the the email address of the group. Type the full address, being sure that it ends in

  • Always send notice to your group that you are sharing a resource with them. When members of a group are given access to an Google document or collection, for example, they will not immediately see it in their list of documents and collections shared with them until after they have clicked on the link in the notification. Another alternative is for you to send them the URL of the shared document in an email. They will also be able to access the document by clicking that link. 

  • When you share an Google document or collection with your group, think about what level of access you want the group members to have. If you give them edit access, they will also be able to share the resource with others outside your group.

  • When sharing an Google Site with your group, provide them with the URL for the site. The site will not display in their list of Google Sites, but they will have access to it if they click a link to the URL that you have provided to them or if they type the URL directly into their web browser.

  • When inviting your group to an Google Calendar event, let them know they should click the Add to calendar link (which will work) instead of the Yes link (which will result in an error message).

Viewing Course Group Members

Course group membership is visible only to the instructors for the course.

No one can search for and find course groups in the directory. Instructors must view their course groups on their My Groups page in Google Apps.

  1. Get to your My Course Groups page by following Steps 1-4 above under Creating a Course Group.

  2. On the My Course Groups page, click the name of the course group for which you want to see the membership. 

  3. On the course group's profile page, click the Members tab. The group members will be listed.

Exporting Group Member List to a Spreadsheet

  1. View the member list for your course group. (For instructions, see Viewing Course Group Members above.)

  2. On the Members page, click Export Members List. 

  3. A file will be downloaded to your device containing the names, email addresses, and roles of all members in the group. The file can be opened with Excel or another spreadsheet program.

Course Group Archival and Deletion

  1. By default, an archival of a course group will occur at the beginning of the following semester. At this point no new posting will be allowed, and the member list will be removed. Shared documents are not archived, as they belong to the user who shared them.

  2. A course group may be extended beyond the end of the semester upon request to [email protected] by a group manager.

  3. Deletion of a course group will occur 5 years after course completion, or at an earlier point upon request to [email protected] by a group manager.