Differentiated Learning/access based on Groups or Userfields

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I’ve been playing around a lot with differentiated learning paths and restricted access to certain course  areas based on user fields and groups (honestly we’ve been testing to see which is the better way to organize users and allow only specific resources or even topics).

There are two very simple ways to limit availability of resources to student groups. I played around this week with both features. The goal was to create a limited view of the course until a student acted to purchase the remainder. It does require a more sophisticated enrollment management system to trigger the enrollments, but it also could be administrated manually with only a little bit of effort per user (and only when they change status). Each topic, if you edit the summary, all of the conditions for release are available to you:

restrict access

1: Restrictions based on “Grouping Access”: groupings are a more advanced group feature and require that you first setup a group and at least one grouping. Once this is done, the Grouping Access for a full topic or week can easily be configured to show or not show entire course topics.

2: Restrictions based on “User field”: userfields include all of the regular fields like email, city, country, etc. but they can also include loads of custom userfields to help differentiate users or, as in the example, to restrict access to resources based on user information.

To test both I setup two courses identical except for the manner in which the conditions were met (either group membership or a userfield that reflected a certain state or included something like “T” or “Yes”). Here’s a side by side where the student doesn’t meet the requirements:


Honestly, they both do the trick and I see a lot of flexibility with both approaches. My preference is for userfields though. Though there is a trade off. When userfields are used, you can tell restrictions setup just at a glance on the page as a teacher (even with editing off):


Grouping Access doesn’t make it as obvious but it is just as effective (you can get the same side by side as above).

Read more about the Moodle access restrictions and condition options at

2 Responses

  1. Hi,

    I used this sort of thing in practice back in Moodle 1.9 to provide differentiated material to different teaching groups whilst maintaining the use of the same course. Really useful.

    I did attempt to set up group only assignments the other day but was unable to prevent all of the groups seeing the other assignments. Thoughts?



  2. I think the key is also setting up groupings and restricting by that. Also, ensure that the “before section/resource/activity can be accessed” is set to “Hide entirely”

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