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Groups can be utilised with courses as learning groups, or as project groups for group work outside of OpenOLAT courses. The distinction between the two types of groups is a purely didactic and goal oriented one.

While "project groups" are meant for collaborative work outside a course context, e.g. when writing a term paper in groups, when preparing a presentation, when working jointly on some academic publication, or when planning to communicate with other group members via forum or chat, "learning groups" on the other hand /however, are linked with at least one course in OpenOLAT. They are often used for the enrolment in a course, the registration for an excursion, for assigning presentations, etc. Or you can use learning groups for granting write permission to your course or single course elements or you can assign various tasks to course participants. Groups associated with a course can be combined to form a learning area. The disdinction between those two types of groups is no longer made in the rest of this manual.

Create Groups / My Groups

The menu item "Groups" on top in the main navigation is your starting point for creating a group. If your system administrator enabled this feature, you can finde the button "Create group" at the bottom of each table in the "Favorites" and "My groups" tabs.

Click the button and enter a name for your group. Determine the maximum numbers of participants and save your settings. The group will then appear on the list containing all groups in the tab "My groups."

If you wish to create a group associated with a course, there are two more methods to create a group in addition to the one mentioned above:

  • In the course tool member management: In the course, open the "Members management" in the drop down menu "Tools" and navigate to the menu item "Groups" to create new groups. Learning areas to subsume several course associated groups are created with the "Learning areas“ tool, which you will also find in the course tools. The menu item "Groups" in the members management also allows you to edit all linked groups, add new members, configure collaborative tools or even delete groups.
  • In the course editor: When configuring the registration element or when using the tabs "Visibility" and "Access" you can create groups directly. However, it is not possible to add members or to activate collaborative tools. To do that, either navigate to the members management, or open the relevant group in a separate tab.

You can view all your groups under "Groups" in the sub-tab "My groups".

Group Names

When creating groups please mind to choose appropriate group names. OpenOLAT users will appreciate to be able to draw conclusions from group names regarding the purpose of the group. You could e.g. select the name "ParticipantsSocialPolicy" instead of just "Participants." Or you could add your initials or a date. All groups can be published by configuring a booking method - you should therefore aim for a distinct, unique group name.

Number of Participants and Waiting List

When creating a group there is the option to limit the number of participants; you can determine how many members your group should have. When activating a waiting list potential members can enter their names on that list in case the limit is exceeded. If there are members leaving the group or if the group coach cancels some previous registrations, persons on the waiting list will move up automatically if the option "Transfer automatically" has been selected.

Configuring Tools of Groups

Having created a group you can now provide it with collaborative tools in the tab "Tools." If you want to modify your configurations later on (e.g. deactivate some tools) you have to do this via the tab "Groups." Click on that group's title and open the menu item "Administration." In the tab "Tools" you can now activate or deactivate collaborative tools.

In the tab "Tools" of the context-sensitive help you will get more detailed information on available group tools.

If the tool "Information" is activated and saved you will be able to edit the information meant for your group members right beneath the list containing all tools. If you have activated and saved the calendar setting you can configure the write permission regarding the group calendar. If you activated and saved OpenMeetings, a virtual classroom is at the group's disposal.

Each tool can only be used once in a group. It is therefore not possible to e.g. provide your members with more than one folder. If you want to work with more than one forum or Wiki or if you want to provide documents in more than one folder it is better to use course elements instead. Link one or more courses to the group, and configure the courses or the course elements to be only visible or accessible to the respective group.

If the tool "E-mail" is activated, non-members of a group are able to use the mail function and contact group coaches and/or participants.

Managing Members of Groups

In the tab "Members" you determine if members should see each other or not, and whether non-member will be able to see group members. The waiting list can also be made visible. Additionally, you can add more group members.

There are two different ways to allocate members to a group:

  1. OpenOLAT users enroll on their own.
  2. The course owner or group coach allocates members to groups.

To enable users to enroll themselves, the group must either be published, or accessible through the course element "Enrolment". Public groups are suited for projects or course independent trainings. The first option is suitable for groups with many participants, for participants you do not know yet or for participants who should decide on their own in which group or topic they want to register (e.g. when assigning tasks to be performed in groups). When configuring the course element, please determine in which group(s) your participants should be able to register. For more information about publishing groups, please refer to the section "Access Control".

The second option is suitable for participants you already know in which groups they belong and if you want to make sure that only those will be able to register who qualify for your group.

Participants are added in the lower section of the "Members" tab in the group administration. Participants can use collaborative tools and see each other in the OpenOLAT chat. In order to add members, open the group either from the members management in the course or via the main navigation item "Groups". In the course members management, click on "Groups" in the left navigation, and enter the group by clicking on the "Edit" link next to the group name. In the group, open the tab "Members" and add group members as either coach or participant:

Coach: Appoints or deletes members as well as provides groups with collaborative tools. In addition, a coach has access to the assessment tool, if one or more courses are linked to the group. Coaches also have the rights to delete a group.

Participant: Uses the collaborative tools of a group.

The classic role of a tutor can be represented in OpenOLAT by means of those coach rights mentioned above.

When clicking on the icon "Download table" (underneath the button "Add users") an Excel file containing all owners or participants of a group will be generated.

If you enable the option "Members can leave the group", group participants are allowed to leave the group on their own volition. If not checked, you will be notified via mail if a member wishes to leave the group.

 

Link Courses

A group can be linked to several courses, and a a course may have several embedded groups. There is no restriction by OpenOLAT.

Groups are often used in courses for controlled enrollment, for the assignment of papers or to register for field trips. Groups and courses can be linked in two ways:

  • In the group, under the tab "Courses" in the group administration: as a principle, you can link only those courses in which you are enrolled as owner. Just click on the link "Link course" to the right of the course name.
  • In the course members management as well as in the editor view of individual course elements: You can either use the button "Create Group" to create a new linked group, or add an already existing group you own via the button "Add group". If you are in the editor view on course element level, you can also create new groups under the access and visibility tabs. The same goes for learning areas.

In the group, the menu item "Course" provides access to all linked courses, while all embedded groups can be accessed in the members management in the course.

Access Control

In the tab "Publishing and booking configuration" you configure the access control for that specific group. A booking method allows access to all users based on the access restrictions defined in the booking method. If no booking method is selected, only those users defined in the "Members" tab gain access to the group.

Three different booking methods are available:

  • Access code: An access code is manually set by the coach of the group, who then passes the code on to authorized users. In order to open the group, this code must be entered when opening the group for the first time.
  • Freely available: A group marked as freely available can be used without any restrictions. Using this booking method adds users as participants to the group.
  • PayPal and Credit card (only available if unlocked by an administrator): The price for admission to the group is specified here. The group is subsequently booked by paying with either PayPal or credit card. The waiting list cannot be combined with this booking method. The options "waiting list" respectively "PayPal and Credit Card" will not appear in the group administration if the respective other is selected.

You can add a validity period to each booking method. Once a booking method is configured, the group will be listed in the "Published groups" and can thus be searched and booked by users.

Using Tools of Groups

As soon as the owner has provided the group with tools group members will see the following items in the group menu:

InformationGroup owners can edit this text.
CalendarGroup events should be managed via the group calendar. According to the configuration you will hold the write permission or the permission to read only.Events can be connected to linked courses, the library documents and external links.
CourseA table overview of all linked courses is available here. Clicking on a course name opens the corresponding course in a new tab.
MembersHere you will see a list containing all group participants and/or its owners. Depending on the settings, the waiting list might be visible too.
E-MailSend all group owners or participants an e-mail.
FolderExchange documents with other group members.
ForumHere you can discuss with other group members.
ChatYou will see who else is present in the group chat. Enter the chat room to communicate with others in real time.
WikiUse a Wiki to jointly create learning content.
PortfolioUse a portfolio to jointly create a binder or add artefacts.
OpenMeetingsUse OpenMeetings for online communication and collaboration in virtual classrooms.

A Wiki is especially useful for recording group work and other projects, or for creating link collections. When subscribing to a Wiki OpenOLAT will notify you of any modifications.

Manage Groups

Under "Groups" in the top main navigation you will see in the tab "My groups" all groups you have enrolled in. There you can leave a group and delete those groups you have created or have been nominated as co-owner. If a group is deleted which is connected to a course, only the group is deleted, but not the course.

Under the sub-tab "Coach" you can find all groups in which you are enrolled in as coach. After selecting at least one group in the table column "Check", you can perform the following actions:

  • Duplicate: Copying groups will spare you the individual manual configuration of collaborative tools if those are identical in all of your groups.
  • Merge: Selected groups are merged into one single group, after selecting the target group in the wizard.
  • Manage members: This allows you to collectively remove enrolled members from groups, add new users as either coach, participant or put them on the waiting list.
  • Configure: Define which collaborative tools should be available for all selected groups. The next wizard step allows you to link one or more courses to the groups.
  • Send E-mail: Send E-mails to multiple groups simultaneously.
  • Delete: Coaches are able to delete all the groups they supervise.

Published Groups

A table overview of all published groups are available in the tab "Published groups". All groups with at least one defined booking method can be viewed and selected here. The table provides an overview of the number of free slots, the type of booking method used and, where specified, the booking costs. Book or enter a group directly by clicking either the links "Book" or "Add to waiting list".

Group Management

Users with the group management role see the additional tab "Group management". Group managers are able to view all published as well as private groups, and are eligible to manage them to the same extent as group coaches. Please refer to the section "Manage Groups" for more information". In addition to that, a group manager can find and manage so-called "Orphans", groups without members and linked resources.

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