Before we start
Before we delve into groups and groupings, it’s important to remember that Moodle divides what is added to Moodle into two broad categories: activities and resources.
Resources consist of the passive content you add to a course – documents, files, pages, books, galleries, website links and labels.
Activities are what you provide for student interaction such as forums, chats, quizzes, choice activities, assignments, SCORM packages, etc.
Now that we’ve got that sorted, let’s talk groups and groupings.
Why use groups in Moodle?
Using groups allows you to make the same content and activities available to all students in your course but allows you control over with whom students interact in activities.
Groups are popular with course coordinators who take a social constructivist/PBL approach or have a large student cohort you wish to break down into a more effective size for discussions and/or tutorials.
Our institution’s Moodle site interacts with our enrolment system, so students are automatically sorted into groups by their course offering selection. However, we can also manually create groups of students.
Once groups are created, activities that allow for multiple user contributions (such as forums, glossaries and text chats) can be set in three ways:
- No groups are enabled, therefore everyone can interact within an activity
- Separate groups are enabled so students cannot see or access the work of other groups.
- Visible groups are enabled so students can see the work of other groups but can only contribute to their own group’s work.
Group settings are not available for resources because Moodle assumes you want the same content available to everyone. If this isn’t the case, then you need to go to groupings OR in Moodle 2.8 you can use restrictions to restrict access to people in particular groups.
Why use groupings in Moodle?
Choose groupings when you want to make different content and activities available to different students.
Groupings allow course coordinators to choose who gets to see and do which activities in a course – allowing one course to serve multiple student groups and making less work when it comes to updates.
Content and activities in common can be made available to everyone. Content for specific student cohorts is assigned to a specific grouping rather than using group settings.
Groupings need to be created manually and consist of one or more groups.
Once you’ve created groupings, you can then go to the settings of resources and activities you create and make them available only to a specific grouping. Students in groups within other groupings will not be able to see these resources and activities.
Using groups and groupings effectively
Groups and groupings provide the ability for course coordinators to update only one course and leverage their work across multiple student cohorts.
They can be used in combination within the same course – so some resources and activities can be open to everyone, other activities can be broken into groups and other resources and activities can be restricted to specific groupings.
A visual guide to groups and groupings
Moodle Groups and groupings from Kerry J
What do students see with visible and separate groups?
It will vary depending on activity. For forums – this wonderful video shows you what students see in a forum set up with with visible groups then with separate groups. Start in at 2.51 (unless you want to learn about the different types of forums available in Moodle).