Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Communicating with Year Groups through Moodle

Year Tutors and Programme Leaders have a common challenge in easily communicating messages to large groups of students. This post discusses how you can use the Programme/Network Area in Moodle effectively to solve some of these challenges.

You may not be aware that groups of students are automatically created in Programme/Network/School areas in Moodle based, on their year and mode of study. If you click into 'Groups' from the Administration menu (within a Programme/Network area), you will see students are grouped according to their 'Year of Study' and 'Type of Study', which means staff can target specific resources and activities to particular groups.

As you can see from the image on the right, students in the Computing & Digital Technology Network are grouped in multiple ways;

  • The beginning of the group name relates to the Programme number (11398A), and the year instance (11/12). 
  • Following that we have CH (Combined Hons) or UG (Undergraduate). In some areas you will see PG (Post-graduate) instead of UG.
  • Then we have the Year of Study (1, 2, 3), which relates to University Levels 4, 5 and 6; alongside the Type of Study, broken down as Full-time (F), Part-time (P) or Sandwich (S). Also, where appropriate, we see indicators for partner college students (MN, SC, SP). 
  • The number in parenthesis relates to the number of students in that particular group.

So what now?

Well now we know what (and who) they are, we can add the relevant groups into a Grouping, e.g. Level 4 students from across the Network (inc. CH, FT, PT and S). Then, we can create a forum that is only available to students in that particular Grouping, making it much easier to get messages out to specific cohorts of students more efficiently, and providing them with a platform to discuss academic (and perhaps non-academic) work. You can learn more about the difference between Groups & Groupings here.

The Computing & Digital Technology Network area has forums for each level that are really well used by students, and were identified as 'good practice' in the Students' Union Student 'Shout Out' event....

Of course if you want to communicate with large numbers of students that are not automatically grouped, you could always create your own custom groups. The post on Moodle Groups & Groupings clarifies the difference between the two and demonstrates how easily you can create your own. Of course, you can always feel free to give me a shout to run through this with you.

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

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