Monday, 21 November 2011

Moodle Groups & Groupings

Over the past few months, academic staff have been getting to grips with a range of features within Moodle, and it is apparent that the Groups features are of particular interest. At the same time, the group tools can be a little confusing as they work slightly different to the WebCT equivalent.

So this post hopes to introduce you to the Moodle terminology: Groups and Groupings, as well as what can be achieved and how.

What are Groups & Groupings? 

Firstly, it's important to clarify the difference between Groups and Groupings:

Group release applies to the options within the 'Add an Activity' drop down menu, such as Forums, Assignments and Quizzes, etc. When releasing an activity, for example a discussion forum, you have two options in the groups section:

  • Separate Groups: each group has their own private forum 
  • Visible Groups: each group has their own forum but they can still view other group's forums.

Groupings allow specific content to be hidden from particular students and released to others. Anything from within the 'Add a Resource' drop down menu can be released to a particular set of students within a grouping. For example, you might have a quiz that all students will complete, but you might want to release a separate quiz that is only visible to those students who are entitled to extra time. This is where Groupings come in handy.

The only confusing aspect related to Groupings is that you first have to create at least one group of students, and then add that group to the grouping (don't worry though, we'll run through the steps below)

Creating Groups & Groupings

Now we have clarified what the Groups and Groupings tools can do, it's time to look at how we create them - luckily it's pretty straightforward, and the short video below runs through the steps involved.

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Putting Groups and Groupings into Practice 

So now we have created two groups and one grouping, it's now time to put them into practice. These two videos demonstrate releasing a forum to separate groups and releasing a quiz to a particular grouping.

Creating a Forum for Separate Groups

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As a tutor you can easily see the different group forums, along with the number of replies, etc.

It's also possible to toggle between Separate Groups and Visible Groups from the course page in Moodle. When you hover over the silhouette, the tool-tip confirms which group mode you are currently in, and clicking on it allows you to change.

Releasing a Quiz to a Grouping

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For more information, the CeLT Moodle Training Guides page contains a guide on 'Creating and Managing Groups in Moodle', but of course if you are having difficulty implementing groups and/or groupings, feel free to get in touch.

Also, if you are doing anything interesting with the Groups/Groupings tools, why not share them in the comments....

Creative Commons License
This work by Peter Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.


  1. is there a way to assign groups via a csv file or similar?

  2. There is an auto-create groups feature. csv file would require more functionality to be exposed to general users (unit leaders) than is available at present I believe.

  3. Hi both,

    thanks for leaving comments.
    The auto-create groups function can be pretty handy - you can set it to create a certain number of groups, or to create groups with a certain amount of people in.
    You also have the option of allocating students randomly, alphabetically by first name, by surname or by student number.

    This will suffice in many cases, but sometimes you want to create Moodle groups based on tutorial groups or some other type of predefined group. Unfortunately we are not able to create groups via csv at this point in time, however I believe it is something that may be possible with a few tweaks in the future. Unfortunately there's no time on this given other priorities.

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