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Use groups and groupings

This guide describes what Moodle groups and groupings are, why they can be used and how to set them up.

In this guide:

Groups

Groups are used to split students into groups to allow for multiple, distinct, instances of a single activity or to restrict access to specific sections of a Moodle space for example:

  • You need students to work separately, but do not want to create multiple copies of an activity, resource or topics. For example, you want students to discuss a topic within their own groups within a single forum.
  • You are sharing a Moodle space with other teachers and want to filter your own group of students' contributions to activities and the gradebook. For example, students have submitted an assignment and you want to just see the submissions of your students.
  • You want to allocate a particular activity, resource or topic section to just one set of users while restricting it from others.

Group modes

Each activity that supports group mode allows three options under the Common module settings of that activity:

  • No groups - There are no groups. All students participate in the same version of activities and can, where appropriate, see each others' work.
  • Visible Groups - Group members can view work from other groups but can only participate in their own group. For example, students can read, but not reply to, another group's forum posts.
  • Separate Groups - Group members can only see activity within their own group.

Group modes provide the greatest benefits when using:

  • Announcements: Announcements can be targeted to specific groups or groupings instead of to all participants.
  • Discussion forums: Add a single forum to your Moodle space. Each group can only see (separate group mode) or participate in (visible group mode) discussion with members from their own group.
  • Assignments: One member of a group submits on behalf of everyone. Each student in that group receives the same grade and feedback. 

Creating groups

Before going through the steps of setting up Groups, you may want to consider Tabula Small Group sync (TSG) which allows the import of TSGs into the associated Moodle space. Departmental Learning Technologists or the Academic Technology team can set this up via Moodle-admin. If the Moodle module space is also set up to sync with MS Teams, then the TSGs can generate, via Moodle, matching Teams channels and Office 365 groups for controlling access to Streams video (for example).

You may also want to consider Auto-create groups if you are using a consistent naming scheme. Students can also be allocated to groups at the same time, although somewhat randomly.
  1. Click the gear icon to open the Action menu at the top right of the Moodle space.
  2. Click More from the drop-down menu.
  3. From the Users tab, click Groups.
  4. Click Create group to open the group creation page and complete the following fields:
    • Group name - Give the group a name that the students will recognise or that makes sense in the context of the Moodle space.
    • Group description - This is optional, but it may be useful to describe what this group is to be used for or who is a member of it in order to remind yourself and help distinguish between groups when there is a larger number.
    • New picture - This is optional but may be useful in distinguishing groups or in creating a group identity.
  5. Click Save changes to save the group. You will be returned to the group management page where you can add and remove users from groups.

    At this stage, you could create a Group choice activity to have students sign themselves up to the available groups.
    • Select the group that you wish to edit. This will show you a list of the current members (if any).
    • Click Add/remove users to add or remove participants. This will open the Add/remove users page.
    • Select the course participants (on the right) that you would like to add to this group and click on Add in the centre.
    • Click on Back to groups when you have added all the relevant members to the group. The page will update to show the students now in that group.
    • Click through the groups on the left to see the list of participants allocated to each one.
You will need to repeat this process for each group that you wish to create.

Once you have created groups, you will be able to

Groupings

Students can be allocated to more than one group. You may be using groups for different purposes within the same Moodle space. For example, you would like students to the engage with a discussion forum in seminar groups, but you also want them to work in different groups for an assignment and submit that as a group. In this case, you would need to use Groupings.

Groupings are sets of groups. In the above example, both the forum and the assignment activities would need to know which set of groups it is separating students into for the respective tasks. You would require a grouping called 'Seminar groups' and a grouping called 'Assignment groups', each containing the appropriate groups.

Creating groupings

  1. Click the gear icon to open the Action menu at the top right of the Moodle space.
  2. Click More from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click the Users tab and then Groups.
  4. Click the Groupings tab.
  5. Click Create Grouping.
  6. Enter the name of your grouping. This will be used to identify which grouping should access to the specific activities.
  7. Click Save Changes.

When you create a new grouping it will be empty. After creating a grouping, you will need to manually add groups.

Create groupings using auto-create groups. If you use auto-create groups, you can assign the groups automatically to groupings that already exist, or you can create new groupings at the same time as you create the new groups.

Adding groups to a grouping

  1. Follow steps 1 and 2 from Create a grouping above.
  2. From the edit column, click Show groups in grouping icon .
  3. On the add/remove groups page, select the group(s) you want to add to the grouping from the Potential members list.
  4. Click the Add arrow button that points towards the Existing members list.
  5. Click Back to groupings. The group(s) you added to the grouping will now be listed in the table on the groupings page.

Existing groupings can be edited and/or deleted using the appropriate icons in the edit column of the table on the groupings page. If you delete a grouping, the groups inside it will not be deleted.

More information on Groups and Groupings is available at Moodle Docs
The information on this page relates to Moodle v3.10 and was last updated August 2021.

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