Moodle Monday: Forums for individual groups by @timdalton

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After something of a delay due to other commitments I’m hoping the Moodle Monday posts will now return to a regular schedule, apologies all…

I’m sure most of you are aware of the groups function in your Moodle courses. They are a nice way to divide your course participants up into more manageable sizes. Not really a concern if you only have a few students and one teacher on a course, but great if you’re dealing with a few hundred with multiple teachers. If you’re not familiar with Moodle groups add a note in the comments and I’ll write something about those in another post.

What I want to achieve here is as follows. I have a course set up with the whole of Year 8 as participants, they mainly take part in activities and view resources together as a year, but we wanted to create a forum on the course that was only visible to one particular class. Maybe you have a course where the majority follow a set curriculum, but you wanted to split off one activity for an advanced group? This might be a good case for what follows.

The separate groups option is in part the way forward, but this still makes the forum link appear on the course for every participant. To hide it from all apart from your one class you need to set up the groupings feature.

The groupings feature was designed to allow you to create groups of groups and assign activities to them. So, if you wanted 2 classes to interact in an activity this would be the way forward. Maybe I wanted two classes to communicate on a forum. The groups feature would only let individuals classes interact, creating a grouping of the two classes would connect them for just this activity.

However, we could also use the groupings function to isolate a particular class, and hide the activity from the rest.

There are 2 jobs involved in setting this up. We need to create our special groupings, and then set up a forum for them.

Creating groupings

In this example, I have a grouping for each class on my course- you may only need it for 1

You need to already have your course groups set up for this stage to work. So, go to your course and select ‘Groups’ from the admin menu on the left. Create your class groups, add members to them.

Once you have this stage sorted we can look at the groupings.

  1. On your course select ‘Groups’ from the admin menu
  2. On this page click the ‘Groupings’ tab from the top of the page
  3. Click ‘create grouping’
  4. Give your grouping a name (in my case this is the name of the individual class I want to add to a grouping, but it can be anything)
  5. Back on the groupings screen click the ‘show groups’ button on the right of your group name (far side of the table)
  6. Add the correct class to your grouping

So, what we have here is a new grouping with just the class we want to see the forum in.

Setting up the forum

In this example the forum will only display for the 8L grouping
In this example the forum will only display for the 8L grouping

We now need to create a new forum activity for this group.

  1. Turn editing on for your course, add a new forum to the right topic.
  2. Give it a name/etc and set the usual options
  3. In the group options select ‘separate groups’ (so other groups can’t see each others postings)
  4. In the grouping option select the grouping you just created
  5. Tick the box next to ‘available to group members only’
  6. Create the forum

This last setting is the important one. It tells Moodle to only make the forum visible to the grouping you selected.

And that’s it. Try a couple of student logins to make sure it works as you would expect, job done. There is no limit to the number of groupings you could create, so you can use this system to create a very flexible collection of activities that are only available to certain groups of students.

Remember- this groupings set up is a more complex way to direct content at one individual set of students on a course. It might not be the best system all the time. Think about the needs of your particular activity- would it be better to start a new course just for these students? Would the usual groups function do the job with less set up? Plenty of options, the trick is picking the best one.

Do you have a better way to do this? Did this method work for you? Do add to the comments if you found it helpful or have a better idea.

This post originally appeared on My other work there, or find me on twitter @timdalton.

14 Responses

  1. Thanks for the great post. I use groups/groupings and appreciate access to these very clear directions. I utilize this feature but do want to caution everyone about something. Even though you create an activity the be only visible to a grouping in your course this activity will show up in everyone’s grade book if there is a grade/evaluation attached. This can really make the gradebook a huge mess. I have had a ticket on the tracker for a long time and much smarter minds than mine have worked on it but last I checked this was still not resolved. What a bummer. Let me clarify that the students grade is not affected at all, they are “excused” from other groupings activities but if you have a lot of groupings this makes for a ton of extra assignments and confusion. This has severely limited my use of this feature. BUT if anyone has found a way around this I am all ears.

  2. Great article, looks really useful but doesn’t appear to be an option for us.

    Could I ask you to include version information in future articles so we can see if it applies to us or if we need to pester tech. support 😉


  3. Gotta give props (and all due credit) to Tim Dalton (@timdalton) for contributing another great Moodle Monday tutorial.

  4. Thank you very much for this posting. Great explanation about how to use groupings in activities. I have experienced the same scenario as Deb Burdick-Hinton.
    Thank you,

  5. We are just beginning to use Moodle. Groups is one thing we have not used as yet, but plan to use in the fall term.

  6. I suppose this is a little off topic, but has Moodle addressed the issue of forcing the instructor to pose a forum topic/question for every single individual group? I assume this is a very common issue, but I haven’t seen a ton of requests for it. In other words, if I have 6 classes (separated by groups), and I want to post a forum question, that means I need to post the question 6 times, correct?

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding this and someone can offer a solution.

  7. The images on this page are broken… It looks interesting but a picture says a 1000 words…

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