Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 1.9. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version is available here: Groups FAQ.

Groups FAQ

From MoodleDocs


What is the 'groups mode' setting?

There are three different groups modes – No groups, Separate Groups, Visible Groups. In ‘Separate groups’ mode, each group can only see their own group – other groups are invisible. In ‘Visible groups’ mode, each group works in their own group, but can also see other groups.

What is the difference between a cohort and a group?

A group exists only within a course. You might have a class 10B for example which you want to enrol in course 1 and course 2. The group would need to be created in both courses and its members enrolled separately in both courses. Cohorts only exist in Moodle 2.0 and are groups of users created by admin which can then be brought in "en masse" to courses. So if class 10B is created as a cohort by admin, then it can be selected in those courses where enrolment via cohort has been enabled. (For more information on creating and using cohorts, see here: Cohorts) Once members of a cohort have been added to a course, they can be included in a group, either by using the "auto create groups" feature or by adding the members to an empty or pre-created group.

What is the 'force' setting?

If force is set to yes, then all activities are group activities. This overrides any settings for individual activities. If force is set to no, then activities are only group activities if they have been set to group mode. In this case, each activity requires to be set to group mode individually.

Can I automatically add users to a group at the same time that I enroll them via a csv file?

Yes. One of the optional field names that can be uploaded in the flat file is "group1, group2, etc". Moodle docs states that the group name must be associated to the corresponding course. The group must also already exist. Here is an example of a portion of a csv file that would enroll students into a group entitled 'Section1' within a course entitled 'Astro1'.

username, password, firstname, lastname, email, course1, group1,...
    jdoe, changeme, Jane, Doe,, Astro1, Section1,...

How do I assign a teacher to a group? Can a teacher be in more than one group?

You can assign a teacher to a group in exactly the same way that you assign a student to a group. In 1.5, a teacher cannot be in more than one group. This has changed in 1.6.

How do I restrict a teacher to view only information about the groups that they are in?

In Moodle 1.6, for Separate Groups mode, teachers can see all groups, whilst non-editing teachers can only see the groups of which they are a member.

In Moodle 1.7 onwards, for Separate Groups mode, the capability moodle/site:accessallgroups may be used to restrict access to all groups in a particular context.

What determines whether students can see a teacher's profile?

A student can see the profile of all teachers that are members of their group or that have edit rights.

I have two groups that meet on different days. Can I set up activities for different times for the two groups?

Not currently. You can create a separate course for each class using backup and restore, though you do then have to update both courses.

Can I use the same groups for more than one course?

Not currently. There are two possible workarounds for this. The first is to give the students group enrolment keys, so they enrol themselves into the right group for each course. The other alternative is to create a master course with all the students enrolled and in the correct groups, and then to make each of the courses a metacourse based on that master course (although the metacourse documentation claims that metacourses do not preserve groups, this seems to have been used by some people). See the documentation on Metacourses.

Can a student be a member of more than one group?

Yes, a student can be in more than one group. In 1.5 the answer would be no.

If one student is in a group, do all students have to be in some group?

No, a student does not have to belong to any group.

If I have several groups, can I make a specific activity visible to just one of those groups?


In Moodle 1.9 onwards, you can organise groups into groupings, then assign an activity (or resource) to a particular grouping.

In any version of Moodle you can make a forum post visible to just one group.

Can I have one set of groups for Activity A and another set of groups for Activity B?


In Moodle 1.9 onwards, you can create two different groupings (a grouping is a set of groups), and assign different groupings to the two activities.

Is it possible to view all the groups in a course as a list to print out?

In Moodle 1.9 onwards, the groups overview page provides a table listing groups, group members and a user count.

When I try to add a student, they are always added to the first group, whichever group I select?

Make sure that the students name does not include any punctuation. There is also a workaround – give each group a temporary name at the start of the alphabet, put your students in the group and then rename the group.

How can I delete a group in Moodle 1.9?


In Moodle 1.9, follow these steps.

After clicking, "Groups" in the Administration block,

  1. Select the group that you want to delete.
  2. Click "Show members for group." (Then the "Delete selected group" button will become active.)
  3. Now you can click the "Delete selected group" button

How can I import a list of students into a group?

Please check Upload users.

How can I sort students automatically into groups during enrolment?

You can make use of enrolment keys. Set an enrolment key on the course settings page (to enforce the enrolment key dialogue form when students enrol). That key is only for students who should not be in a group. On the screen for administering groups, you create your groups and by editing the settings of each group, you can add a different enrolment key for each group. When a student enrols, using an enrolment key that is connected to a certain group, the student will automatically be part of that group.

TIP: Make sure that the first letter for each group enrolment key is the same as the course settings enrolment key. If a student makes a mistake typing in the enrolment key, they are provided with the first letter of the course settings enrolment key as a hint.

How can I change the sort order of the participants?

The admin can change the "fullnamedisplay" variable which will affect the sort order of participants for the entire Moodle site. This can be found in the Site administration block under Security>Site Policies>Full name format. The default is First+Surname, with First, and Surname+First as options. Some language packs have other options.

What is the difference between a group and a grouping?

See Groups versus groupings. A grouping can be thought of as a category of groups. A grouping is a meta group. Student membership to a "grouping" can only happen by their membership to a group that is associated with the grouping.

What is an orphan group?

An orphan group (in Moodle 1.9 onwards) is a group that does not belong to any grouping.

Is it possible to create site-wide groups?

Site-wide groups are not yet available in Moodle. The Using Moodle forum discussion Site Wide Groups contains possible work-arounds.

Is there any way to enable students to choose a group?

Not in the standard Moodle 1.9 build, but there are hacks which people have described in the forums.

Activity modules and groups

Different activity modules vary as to how they treat groups – some have better support for groups than others! For groups in forums, see the section on group mode in Adding/editing a forum.

In general if you have questions about how an activity supports groups, you’re advised to post in the forum for the activity module, and not the groups forum.

What Activities do NOT support Groups?

All Activities modules support the use of groups EXECEPT: Glossary, Lesson, and SCORM/AICC.

What happens if I switch an activity from being in non-groups mode to being in groups mode?

This depends on the activity module in question.

For forums, posts made before the forum is put into groups mode are visible to all students after you have put the forum into group mode. However students cannot reply to these posts if they have no group (i.e. blank).

What happens if I change the groups for an activity in groups mode e.g. if I move a student from one group to another?

Again this depends on the activity module. You may find that grades or activity logs are lost, so check for the specific activity module first.

How do I post a message in a forum that only one group can see?

Before you click 'Add a new topic', you need to choose the group from the Separate groups drop-down menu at the top left.

As a teacher I want to put the same post in each group's forum with students able to reply to that post. How can I do this?

You need to post the same message into the forum for each group. There is currently no way to do this in one go if you want students to be able to reply to your post. If you don't mind students not being able to reply, then you can of course just post the message to all participants.

How can I hide an activity/resource in the course from anyone who is not assigned to a group?


In Moodle 1.9 onward you can use the Grouping 'Available for group members only' setting for allowing access to an activity/resource only to participants who are assigned to a group. If no participant on the course site is assigned to a group, ticking the 'Available for group members only' will effectively hide the activity/resource from everyone.

See also