Moodle Groups, Groupings and Cohorts – The basics unleashed #Moodletips

Moodle is based on the Social Constructionism pedagogy and according to that : “We learn particularly well from the act of creating or expressing something for others to see” . Moodle supports this kind of collaborative learning environment right from its core. Many other LMS’s available in the market may support document collaboration or project collaboration but Moodle is way ahead from all the other industry LMS’s.

The heart of Moodle is courses that contain activities and resources. The main power of this activity-based model comes in combining the activities into sequences and groups, which can help you guide participants through learning paths. Thus, each activity can build on the outcomes of earlier ones. You can create groups in Moodle to support collaborative learning.

In this article – I am going to uncover the basics of Groups, Groupings and Cohorts in Moodle context. So, if you are a new Moodler looking to find your way in all these technical jargon, then Don’t worry, I will give you a simple overview of the Groups, Groupings & Cohorts and how you can effectively use them.

First of all, let’s start our way with the Groups.

Moodle Groups, Groupings and Cohorts - The basic unleashed #Moodletips


You as a teacher can create groups to allocate a particular course activity, resource or a complete course section only to a specific group of students.  This will make the students collaborate with others and scaffold upon others learning.

Moodle supports three groups modes within the courses:

  • 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 in read only mode.

It can be used on a complete course level as well as on the specific activities levels. Once you choose the group mode on a course level, it will be the default mode for all activities defined within that course.

You can create groups from Administration > Course administration > Users > Groups.  You can also create the groups automatically through Auto-create groups.

For more information about creating groups in Moodle course, check out this Moodle docs page.

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


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. Groupings were designed to allow a selection of different sets of groups in each activity.

Difference between Groups and Groupings is that A group is a set of users where as A grouping is a set of groups. 


Cohorts are site-wide or course category-wide groups. A cohort exists only for enrolment purposes whereas A group exists only within a course. The purpose of cohorts is to enable all members of the cohort to be easily enrolled in a course.

To create a new cohort, go to Administration > Site administration > Users > Accounts > Cohorts and click Add. Cohorts can be created in both the system (site-wide) context or in the course category context. You as an administrator can also upload multiple cohorts from a CSV (comma separated values) formatted text file in Administration > Site administration > Users > Accounts > Cohorts > Upload cohorts.

So, this brings us to the end of our small article over Moodle Groups, Groupings and Cohorts. If you have any queries or any questions about Moodle Groups, Groupings and Cohort, do let me know in the comments section below. I will be happy to help you out.

Jaswinder Singh

Jaswinder Singh, passionate about using Moodle in improving the Indian Education System and reaching the students in far flung areas where still education seems to be a impossible prospect of life. He is the author of the popular Moodle Book "How to use Moodle 2.7". In October 2016, Jaswinder was elected as the Moodle User's Association Committee member - the first to make it from India.

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  • Mark Glynn

    Thanks for this post – it is very useful. You may be interested in this screencast where I walk through teachers on allocating groups/groupings to particular assignment activities on Moodle

    • Hi Mark,
      Many thanks for sharing this awesome screencast.