ITS Documentation

Course Groups in MCommunity and M+Google

S4390 • January 2013

U-M instructors on the Ann Arbor campus can create groups of the people in their courses, based on data in Wolverine Access, using the MCommunity Directory. These groups are then synchronized to M+Google. The groups can be used for sending email and sharing M+Google resources. All Ann Arbor campus instructors can create course groups in MCommunity regardless of whether they use CTools.

Table of Contents


TIP: Most changes you make to your MCommunity Directory profile or groups take effect immediately or within a couple of minutes. Some changes, particularly those that must get to multiple systems, may take longer. When will my MCommunity changes be made?

What Is a Course Group?

A course group is a group of all the students and instructors for a particular course section stored in the MCommunity Directory and synchronized to M+Google.

  1. Class roster data from Wolverine Access is stored in MCommunity.
  2. Instructors create course groups based on that data in the MCommunity Directory.
  3. MCommunity synchronizes the course groups to M+Google.

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 in Wolverine Access. 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 Wolverine Access, the option to create a course group for it in MCommunity is added for the instructors for that class. When a class is canceled and removed from Wolverine Access, the corresponding course group in MCommunity is also removed. The removal is then synchronized to M+Google, and the course group is removed there as well.

Used for email and M+Google resource sharing. Course groups can be used for sending email and for sharing M+Google resources. Resource sharing works best when all members of the course group use M+Google email.

Created by instructors. Course groups must be created in MCommunity by the instructor for the course. Instructors can see their course groups in the MCommunity Directory by clicking a tab on their My Groups page. No one else can see course groups in the directory. Students cannot see them. 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 in Wolverine Access 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 MCommunity course groups list. A course group can generally be created for a couse as soon as the course information, including the instructor(s) assigned to the course, is in Wolverine Access.

  1. On any page in the MCommunity Directory, click the Log In link in the upper right corner to log in.

    The Log In link is in the upper right corner of the window.

  2. Log in with your uniqname and UMICH password.

  3. Click My Groups.

    The My Groups link is in the upper right corner of the window.

  4. On your My Groups page, click the My Course Groups tab to see the list of courses for which you can create course groups, along with your list of already-created course groups. Course groups are stored differently from regular groups in MCommunity. They do not appear in your regular list of groups. Instead, they appear on a list that shows only course groups.

    The My Course Groups tab is to the right of the My Groups tab, just below your name.

  5. 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 Group button to the far right of it.

  6. Your course group will be created in MCommunity. You will see the profile page for your new group.
    IMPORTANT! You cannot use your group for sending email and sharing M+Google resources until it has been created in M+Google. It can take up to a day for M+Google to process and create your group after it receives the information from MCommunity.

    Under 'Group Details,' there will be a 'no' next to 'Sent to Google UMICH.' This will change to 'yes' in a few minutes when MCommunity has sent your group to Google UMICH. The email address for your group will be listed under 'Contact Information.' Note that all course group addresses end in @courses.umich.edu.

  7. Click the My Course Groups tab to return to the list of your course groups.

    On the group profile page, the 'My Course Groups' tab is in the upper left corner of the window, just under the group name.

  8. 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 MCommunity for a minimum of five years and are then deleted automatically. When a group is deleted from MCommunity, it is automatically removed from M+Google as well. If you want a course group deleted before its automatic deletion date, contact the ITS Service Center; you cannot delete it yourself. Note that once a course group has been removed from M+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. You cannot change the settings for your course groups. Course groups have these settings:

  • The group name is set by MCommunity. The name consists of the course name, number, section, term, and campus. (All courses end in A for Ann Arbor right now.)

  • 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 Wolverine Access. You cannot make changes to the membership of a course group in either the MCommunity Directory or M+Google.

  • Member list viewable by instructors only. Only instructors can see the member list in the MCommunity Directory as of fall 2012. Group membership is not visible to anyone in M+Google.

  • 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@umich.edu. This is because mail delivery to course groups is handled by M+Google rather than by the U-M Mail Gateway. Google recognizes members by their email address rather than just by their uniqname.
    WARNING! If a member of a course group sends mail to the group from an address in the form of uniqname@med.umich.edu, the mail will not be delivered. M+Google will not recognize the address as being a member.

    All group members, instructors and students, can send mail to the course group.

  • Course groups are not searchable. That is, no one, not even members of the group can search the MCommunity 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 Course 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 M+Google. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to a day from the time you create the group in MCommunity.

Course groups are different from regular MCommunity Directory groups. Membership information is stored and managed differently, the email addresses have a different ending, and email delivery is handled by M+Google instead of by the U-M Mail Gateway. Here are some things to keep in mind when sending mail to a course group:

  • You must be a member of a course group to send email to it. That is, you must be either an instructor for the course or a student registered in the course.

  • To be recognized as a member of the group for purposes of sending mail to it, you must send mail from an address in the form of uniqname@umich.edu.

    The From address must end in @umich.edu.

  • Course group email addresses end in @courses.umich.edu. You must use the exact address listed in your course group directory profile when sending mail to the group. Mail sent to a course group name followed by @umich.edu cannot be delivered.

    The To address must end in @courses.umich.edu.

  • Instructors will need to provide their students with the name of the group if they wish students to send mail to the group. Students cannot see course groups in the MCommunity Directory or in M+Google.

  • Group members must have a mail forwarding address in their MCommunity Directory entry to receive mail sent to a course group. Everyone who uses M+Google for email has a mail forwarding address set up for them automatically. Many people who use the email service provided by the U-M Health System (who have addresses ending in @med.umich.edu) do not have mail forwarding addresses in their directory entries. They will need to add their med.umich.edu address as a forwarding address in the directory to receive mail sent to a course group of which they are a member.

  • 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 MCommunity that contains one or more course groups. Add the course groups as external members using the full @courses.umich.edu address.

IMPORTANT! Google Mail via the web is not accessible to people who use some assistive technologies. See M+Google Accessibility for information about configuring alternative clients for accessing M+Google Mail and for general accessibility information about, and work-arounds for using, M+Google Apps.

Sharing M+Google Resources with Your Group

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

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

  • When you share an M+Google resource (such as an M+Google document) with a group or invite a group to an M+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 @courses.umich.edu.

  • You cannot share M+Google Calendar events with people who do not use M+Google Calendar, such as those who use the mail and calendaring service provided by the U-M Health System.

  • Be aware that if you share an M+Google resource, such as an M+Google document, with someone who does not have a mail forwarding address in their MCommunity Directory entry, the email notification telling them you are sharing the resource will be undeliverable.

  • Always send notice to your group that you are sharing a resource with them. When members of a group are given access to an M+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.

    Leave the 'Notify people via email' box checked when your share a Google resource with your group.

  • If you use CTools, consider posting links to any shared M+Google resources on your CTools site. That will ensure that students can always get to those resources, even if they can't find the email notice sent to them when the resource was shared.

  • When you share an M+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 M+Google Site with your group, provide them with the URL for the site. The site will not display in their list of M+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 M+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).

  • As of August 2012, groups are not supported in Google Blogger. Do not use groups as Authors or Readers in Blogger.

Viewing Course Group Members

Course group membership is visible only to the instructors for the course, and it is only visible in the MCommunity Directory. It is not visible in M+Google.

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

  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.

    The members tab is the farthest thing to the right on the same line as the course group name.

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.

Need a Discussion Tool?

Course groups in M+Google do not yet offer discussion features such as digests and archiving. If you need features that course groups in MCommunity and M+Google do not yet offer, consider these alternatives:

Additional Resources

Watch an eight-minute screencast that shows how to create a course group and then use in in M+Google to share resources:

Video Platform Video Management Video Solutions Video Player

Visit ITS's Information System to obtain ITS computer documentation and other resources.

The ITS Service Center provides a variety of computing help resources.

For further help with this or any other topic, call 734-764-HELP [4357] or submit an online service request.