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.