Skip to main content
Skip table of contents

Groups & Grouping

Why use groups?

  • You are a teacher in a course where you have several classes and you want to filter your activities and gradebook so you only see one class at a time.
  • You are a teacher sharing a course with other teachers and you want to filter your activities and gradebook so you don’t see the students from your colleagues’ classes.
  • You want to allocate a particular activity, resource, or topic section to just one class or set of users and you don’t want others to see it.
  • This screencast about using groups also highlights the benefits of using groups.

Group levels

Groups settings in course settings

A group or grouping can be used on two levels:

  • Course level - The group mode defined at the course level is the default mode for all activities defined within that course. To use groups you need first to set a group mode in Course > Edit settings. This setting might be forced by the site administration to a different value.
  • Activity level - Each activity that supports groups can also have its own group mode defined. If the course setting "Force group mode" is set to "Yes" then the option to define the group mode for individual activities is not available. If it is set to "No", then the teacher may change the group mode:

Group modes

There are three group modes

  • No groups - There are no sub groups, everyone is part of one big community
  • Separate groups - Each group can only see their own group, others are invisible.
  • Visible groups - Each group works in their own group, but can also see other groups. (The other groups' work is read-only.)

For example, enabling either separate or visible groups on an assignment drop-box enables staff to filter the student submissions to see only those from a particular tutor group. With visible groups, students can see which other groups are doing the same activities as they are; with separate groups, they do not know which other groups are doing the same activities.

Using groups with discussion forums allow teachers to restrict interaction between students. Separate groups mean only students in the same group can see and participate in discussions within a particular forum. Visible groups allow students to see other group's discussions but only participate in their own group's discussions.

Note: Where visible groups are used or the participant can access all groups, the user's own group is shown first, followed by other groups:

Creating a group

  1. Click the 'Create group' button in Course > Users > Groups
  2. Add a group name. Name is the only required field here. Optionally, you can add a description (displayed above the list of group members on the participants page), enrolment key and picture (displayed on the participants page and next to forum posts)
  3. Click the 'Save changes' button
  4. Select the group to which you want to add participants, then click the "Add/remove users" button
  5. In the "Potential members" list, select the users you want to add to the group. Multiple users may be selected using the Crtl key. You can search your students by typing their names in the search box.
  6. Click the Add button to add the users to the group

An optional group ID number (an advanced setting) may be added for matching the group against external systems. Group ID numbers are not displayed anywhere on the site. Within a course, all group ID numbers must be unique. Thus it's not possible to create a group with a duplicate group ID number.

Auto-create groups

Auto-create groups

Groups may be created automatically via the 'Auto-create groups' button in Course > Users > Groups. To see all the settings, click the Expand all link top right.


A naming scheme can be created automatically. # is replaced by sequential numbers, and @ by letters. For example:

  • Group @ will create groups with a naming scheme Group A, Group B, Group C . . .
  • Group # will create groups with a naming scheme Group 1, Group 2, Group 3 . . .

You can specify if you would like to create

  • an x number of Groups or
  • each group contain x number of students

When selecting Members per group the Prevent last small group will allocate additional members to an existing group rather than create a new group with fewer members than x. This setting is found by clicking on the Show More link.

Group members

Select members from ... allows you to choose from roles assigned within the course, available cohorts, groups, or groupings. Specify and Group/Member count work together.

The setting 'Select members from cohort' lists all cohorts which users enrolled in the current course are part of. The number in brackets is the number of users enrolled in the course in that cohort.

The 'Ignore users in groups' checkbox should be ticked to only select group members from users that are NOT already in a group in the course.

Prior to creating the groups, you can view the groups.

Restricting an activity, resource or course topic to a particular group

To be able to restrict an activity, resource, or course topic to a group, expand the 'Restrict access' section in the activity, resource or topic settings and a group restriction can then be added.

What is a grouping?

A grouping is a collection of groups within a course. Using groupings allows you to direct tasks at one or more groups in your course so that they can work together on the tasks.

Grouping example

  • You teach students in a course called 'The Art of Language'.
  • Your students are divided into four groups, Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing, and for much of the course, they work in these groups.
  • You wish the students to work on a project, exploring passive and active language. You create a grouping Passive Language and assign the Listening and Reading groups to this grouping. You create a grouping Active Language and assign the Speaking and Writing groups to this grouping.
  • Using the Restrict access feature you set certain tasks only for the Passive Language grouping and other tasks only for the Active Language grouping.
  • Now the groups can work together, within their grouping, on their respective focus areas.
  • At the end of the project, you can bring the groups together in an activity for all participants to share their learning.

Adding groups to a grouping

The groupings tab

To add groups to a grouping:

  1. In your course, click  Course > Users > Groups.
  2. Click the groupings tab.
  3. If necessary, create a new grouping by clicking the create grouping button on the groupings page. An optional grouping ID number (an advanced setting) may be added for matching the grouping against external systems. Grouping ID numbers are not displayed anywhere on the site. Within a course, all grouping ID numbers must be unique.
  4. Click the "Show groups in grouping" people icon in the edit column.
  5. On the add/remove groups page, select the group(s) you want to add to the grouping from the "Potential members" list.
  6. Click the arrow button that points towards the "Existing members" list.
  7. Click the "Back to groupings" button. The group(s) you added to the grouping will now be listed in the table on the groupings page.

Adding groups to a grouping

Existing groupings can be edited and/or deleted using the appropriate icons in the edit column of the table on the groupings page.

Setting the default grouping

Once some groupings have been created, a default grouping for course activities and resources may be set.

  1. Follow the settings link in the course administration block.
  2. In the "groups" section of the course settings, select the default grouping.

The default grouping is used on the Participants page.

Selecting a grouping for an activity

To use a particular grouping in an activity:

  1. Click the 'Edit settings' link for the activity
  2. In the common module settings section, set a group mode
  3. Select the grouping from the grouping dropdown menu.
  4. Click the "Save changes" button at the bottom of the page.

If the group mode is set to separate groups, students will only see the activities they have been assigned to. Teachers will see the name of the grouping in brackets after the activity name on the course page. A count of activities assigned to each grouping is kept on the groupings page.

Please note that the grouping option appears by default only in activities that support group modes.

Add group/grouping access restriction' button

If Conditional activities are enabled, there is a button 'Add group/grouping access restriction'.

Restricting an activity, resource, or course topic to a grouping

To be able to restrict an activity, resource, or course topic to a grouping, Restrict access must be enabled. This will result in a 'Restrict access' section in the activity, resource or topic settings and a grouping restriction can then be added.

JavaScript errors detected

Please note, these errors can depend on your browser setup.

If this problem persists, please contact our support.