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A Moodle Secret Weapon: Cohorts

By February 19, 2018 No Comments

In our support team’s experience, we don’t see a lot of clients using the cohorts feature in Moodle but it can be a secret weapon depending on your implementation.

A cohort in Moodle is a way to organize a collection of users and control their enrollment in a series of courses via the cohort sync enrollment method.

This method allows you to maintain a single list of users and will dynamically update enrollments within any course the cohort has been mapped to. There are a lot of situations where institutions could take advantage of cohorts, especially if they have not implemented eThink’s real-time Student Information System (SIS) integration. Check out some examples of cohort use cases below.

Groups vs Cohorts

While similar, cohorts are slightly different than groups in Moodle. As mentioned previously, cohorts are students working through the same curriculums, while groups are simply groupings of students already within a course. Cohorts are the broader  system or category-wide sets of students, while groups are created for various activities or projects within a course.

Cohort Use Cases

cohort use cases moodle

Let’s say you would like online faculty to complete eThink’s Moodle 101 and 201 training courses. You could set up a cohort comprised of all your instructors who teach online and configure the enrollment method to enroll that group into the 101 and 201 courses. You can add and remove individuals from the cohort over time as the list of instructors changes, and that enrollment will automatically update in both the 101 and 201 courses at once.

Or, you might have a group of new hires who need to complete a set of onboarding courses or employees in a certain department that are required to complete some training. Using the cohort sync enrollment method, this saves you from having to update enrollments in each course.

Within a school district, you can also use cohorts to organize students by grade level.

grade cohort moodle

An added bonus of using cohorts is that it makes it easier to deploy learning plans to a group of students for the purposes of tracking achievement within a competency framework. There’s even a plugin that allows auto assignment of cohort based on a custom profile field!

If you are not familiar with cohorts yet, we encourage you to consider how this could help streamline how you manage enrollments for groups of users and courses in Moodle.

Creating Cohorts in Moodle

So you’ve decided cohorts are for you. Here is how to create one:

  1. Go to Site administration > Users > Accounts > Cohorts
  2. Select the ‘Add new cohort’ tab.
  3. Give your cohort a name.
  4. Select the context to which you want to apply. This can be a system wide cohort (‘System’) or you can choose a category to create the cohort within. If you are unsure what to use here then pick the ‘System’ context.
  5. The rest of the fields are optional, but if you want to upload users into this cohort you need to give it an ID. Once complete click ‘Save changes’.

Your cohort is now ready for you to populate it with users. Here is how to manually add users to your cohort:

  1. Go to Site administration > Users > Accounts > Cohorts.
  2. Your new cohort should be listed. In the edit column, click the ‘assign’ icon.
  3. From here you can select users from the right column and click the ‘Add’ button. Likewise selecting users in the left column and clicking ‘Remove’ will remove them from the cohort.

You can also create cohorts by uploading a pre-prepared CSV file:

  1. Go to Site administration > Users > Accounts > Cohorts > Upload cohorts
  2. From here you can upload your file. Below is an example of how your file should look:name,idnumber, description, category
    MyCohort, C1, My first uploaded cohort, Miscellaneous

Uploading users into a cohort is also possible. This is done using the ‘Upload users’ method. When creating your file for uploading users, make sure you include the field ‘cohort1’ for the cohort ID of the first cohort you want to add the user to. Note this is the cohort ID and not the cohort name. Additional cohorts can be specified by moving the cohort sequence on (‘cohort2’, ‘cohort3’, etc).

Have questions? Speak with one of our Moodle experts

To learn more about Moodle Cohorts and how to use them in your learning programs, contact us to connect with our experts, or request an individual demonstration below.

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