Group work is one of the most common types of student collaboration. The CLE allows you to extend this practice to your online courses by creating Groups and Groupings. It’s important to understand the difference between Groups and Groupings and how they can be used in the CLE.
How are Groups different from Groupings?
Groups in the CLE allow instructors or course managers to assign a particular activity (or all course activities) to groups of students. Each group member always works in their own group, but you can control whether or not they can see the contributions of members of other groups. Groups can also be used to dictate different access to items in your course by a particular group of students.
Just as a Group is a collection of users, a Grouping is a collection of Groups. If you plan on using multiple sets of groups in your class, groupings allow you to keep certain groups together, depending on what kinds of activities you want the students in those groups to do. This is ideal when you have multiple group work activities and you want to re-compose the groups for each activity, so groups can work with different groups throughout the semester.
A Group is a collection of one or more individual users. Users are usually students, but you can also assign instructors or assistants to be part of a Group.
Why use groups?
Groups enable instructors to split the students into sub-sets to work on activities together as a group or restrict resources to the group of students.
1. Assign collaborative activities
CLE groups can be used to assign collaborative activities such as assignments or forums to several groups and allow them to submit the assignment as a Group. This is ideal when you want students to work in the same group throughout the course.
2. Dictate different access
CLE groups can be used to dictate different access to items in your course by particular students. This can be done very broadly or on a very granular level. Below are some scenarios in which groups might help you:
- You would like to deliver some activities/resources to one group, but not the whole class
- Some students should submit different assignments
- Some students should discuss separately from one another
- You want to see a particular set of students when you grade
- You need to grant standard extensions (for any reason, including accommodations)
- You wish to restrict activities to individuals. For instance, you could set up one-person groups if you'd like each student to have a private forum that only they and the teacher can see (think journaling exercise)
- On your course page, click the Participants tab in the Secondary navigation bar.
- Towards the left-hand side, below the Secondary navigation bar, search the drop-down menu to filter and select Groups.
- The Groups page will open.
To create groups, you have three options here:
- Create group creates a single group. See Create group (below).
- Auto-create group lets you set parameters to automatically create multiple groups, and the CLE will randomly assign your students to the groups. See Auto-Create Group (below).
- Import groups lets you upload a spreadsheet to create multiple empty groups. See Import Groups (below).
Except for Auto-created groups, instructors must manually add students to the empty groups. See Add & Modify Group Members (below).
- On the Groups page (see the above 4 steps), click Create group. The Create group page will open.
- For Group name, enter a name (required), and for Group description, enter a description (optional), change the Group messaging to Yes to allow the group members to communicate within CLE.
- Click Save changes to create the group. You will be returned to the Groups page where your new Group will be listed in the left column, with (0) indicating the number of students in the group.
- On the Groups page, add/remove group members.
- On the Groups page, under Groups (left column), click the group name. The group name will be highlighted, and the Members of...column (at right), will list any course members who have already been added to the group.
- Below the Members of column (at right), click Add/remove users. The Add/remove users page will open.
- On the Add/remove users page, the left column lists current group members, and the right column lists potential group members.
- Click a Student name in the Potential members column (at right) to highlight it, and click the Add to move students into the group members column (at left).
- To remove students from a group:
In the Group members column (at left), click student name, then click Remove. The names will be removed from the group and returned to the Potential members column.
- When you are finished modifying the group members, click Back to groups.
The Auto-create groups function quickly assigns your students to multiple groups and includes the option to randomize group membership.
To use Auto-create groups:
- On the groups page, click Auto-create groups. The Auto-create groups page will open.
- For the Naming scheme, enter the group name you would like to use for your groups. Moodle will automatically generate names based on what you enter.
- An "@" sign will generate a letter (e.g., "Group @" will generate Group A, Group B, Group C)
- A "#" sign will generate a number (e.g., "Group #" will generate Group 1, Group 2, Group 3)
- From Auto create based on the drop-down menu, choose how you want to divide your students:
If you select Members per group, under the Group members settings, check Prevent, last small group. If a remaining group is less than the size you set, Moodle will place these members into other groups (preventing a group of 1 student).
- Number of groups will form groups based on the total number of groups you select
- Members per group will form groups based on the number of members you want in a group
- Use student names can be used if you are creating groups of an individual student.
- For Group/member count (required), enter the number of members you would like in each group (If creating a group based on Course member names, enter 1).
- Change the Group messaging to Yes to allow the group members to communicate within CLE.
- Under the Group members settings, from the Select members with role drop-down menu, choose whether to include only students or course members with other roles.
- From the Allocate members drop-down menu, select how you want group members to be assigned to groups. The default setting is Randomly. You can also sort alphabetically by First name, Last name, or ID number.
- (Optional) To create new groups within a Grouping (a group of groups, useful for assigning the same activity to multiple groups), under the Grouping settings, use the Grouping of auto-created groups drop-down menu. To create your groups within an existing grouping, select the name of that grouping, otherwise, select New grouping. For more information about Groupings, refer to the Groupings tab.
- Click Preview to see a preview of the groups at the bottom of the page. If you are satisfied, click Submit.
Import groups allows you to create multiple groups at once by uploading a spreadsheet containing the names of the groups. Before you can import groups, you must first prepare a text file containing a list of groups that you want to create. While this can create multiple groups at once, all groups will be empty and you will need to manually add users.
Prepare a List of Groups for Import
The group list has the required fields needed for the import to be successful. The file must include "group name" as a field, and can optionally include "description". The following steps explain this process using Microsoft Excel.
- Open Excel and create a new worksheet by clicking File > New Workbook.
- In cell A1 enter group name (case sensitive).
- Optional: In cell B1 enter the description (case sensitive).
- In the rows that follow, enter names and descriptions for each of the groups (descriptions should be short with no commas).
- To save your file, click File > Save As. In the Format drop-down menu, change the file format to Comma Separated Values (.csv). Enter a name for your file, then click Save.
Create Groups through Import
- On the Groups page, click Import groups. The Import groups page will open.
- Click Choose a file. The File Picker pop-up window will open.
- In the File Picker pop-up window, click Upload a file. Then, click Choose File to select the CSV file from your computer. Once you select the file, the name will appear next to the Attachment box. Click Upload this file. The File Picker pop-up window will close and you will see the file listed on the Import groups page.
- Click Import groups. The import process will begin and a confirmation page will open.
- If your import is not successful, check your CSV file and ensure that the column headings are correct. Also, if you included group descriptions, consider shortening them and removing any commas.
A Grouping is a collection of Groups that can be used to organize groups, assign activities, distribute materials, and/or maintain forums. When you add an activity or resource to your Moodle course, you can restrict the activity/resource to a grouping and, therefore, the groups within.
You may also want to use differently-sized groups. Groupings allow you to keep certain groups together. When you add an activity to your Moodle course, you can assign the activity to a grouping and, therefore, the groups within. This is ideal when you have multiple group-work activities, and you want to re-compose the groups for each activity so students can work with different group members throughout the semester.
Create a Grouping
Before you create Grouping, we recommend you first create the Groups. So you can add the groups to a grouping. To create a grouping:
- On your course page, click the Participants tab in the Secondary navigation bar.
- Towards the left-hand side, below the Secondary navigation bar, search the drop-down menu to filter and select groupings.
- The Groupings page will open.
- To create a grouping, click Create grouping at the bottom of the page.
- Add a Grouping name and an optional description. Click Save changes to open the Groupings page and see the new grouping listed.
Note: When you create a new grouping it will be empty and groups must be manually added. See below for instructions.
Add Groups to a Grouping
Before you can add Groups to a Grouping, you must first create the Groups. To create Groups, see the Groups tab-->Creating Groups.
- On your course page, click the Course Management panel (black gear icon, top right), and click More in the drop-down menu. This will open the Course Administration page.
- Under the Course Administration page, click the Users tab, and click the Groupings tab. This will open the grouping page.
- On the Groupings page, click the Show Groups in Grouping icon in the edit column.
On the Grouping editing page, add/remove groups.
- On the Grouping editing page, the left column lists exiting members of the grouping, and the right column lists potential members.
- Below the Potential Members column (at right), click the group to highlight it and click add to add the group into a grouping.
- To remove groups from a grouping:
In the existing members column (at left), click the group name to highlight it, then click Remove. The names will be removed from the grouping and returned to the Potential members column.
- When you are finished adding groups to a grouping, click Back to groupings.
Restrict access can be used in a variety of ways in the CLE to limit access to your activities:
- Restrict access can be used to assign an activity to a particular group without having to use a grouping. For example, you can create an activity for only one section of a multiple-section course, such as an honors or graduate section.
- You can also use Restrict access to assign an activity to course members who are not in a particular group or grouping or, by adding multiple restrictions, a mix of Groups or Groupings.
- On your course page, turn Edit mode on.
- Add the activity you will assign to groups, or if the activity has already been added to the course, click Edit (at the right of the activity), then Edit settings. The activity’s Settings page will open.
- Configure the settings for the activity but do not set Common module settings as you normally would when assigning an activity to a grouping.
- Under Restrict access, click Add restriction…. The Add restriction window opens.
- In the Add restriction… window, click Group or Grouping. A new restriction will appear on the Settings page, and the pop-up will close.
- For Access restrictions, from the Student drop-down menu, select whether the student must or must not match the group.
- From the Group (or Grouping) drop-down menu, select the name of a group (or grouping).
- (Optional) To add restriction, click Add restriction.
- Click Save and display to save and open the assignment or click Save and return to the course to return to your course page Note: When using Restrict access, be careful to check Common module settings for conflicts. For example, if you select a grouping in the Common module settings and also use Restrict access to restrict the activity to a group that doesn’t belong to that grouping, no one will be able to access the activity.