The plugin that I am reviewing this time is the activity module choice group for Moodle. This activity enables students to join a group in a course using the activity. Please note the links here are to the old plugins database, and not the new one as at the point of writing the review this module had not been moved over yet.
This module was released in April 2011 and I have been meaning to do a review of it since, it has been on the list. It was written by Nicolas Dunand from Switzerland. There was a hack in Moodle 1.9 which enabled this, but this solution is cleaner and easy to implement and use in Moodle 2.
There is also another plugin which does similar which I will review as well.
What does it do?
If you assume that you have a Moodle course with groups and groupings defined. There are students enrolled but not assigned to any group. You can set up this activity to enable the students to self-select groups. You can set limits on the group memberships and allow them to change back and forth if you wish. This is all automatic and just works.
Where before you may have set up a choice to have students select which project they wanted to work on and then manually added them into project groups, this activity automates this process for you.
You could probably use this multiple times, such as once per topic to re-stream students into groups & groupings for that particular section of the course. Since you only select the specific groups as options for the activity, you can control that per topic should you wish.
This can be very useful when you have a training course in Moodle which requires breakouts and you want to enable the students to self-select which group/project they are going to do.
Is it simple to install?
Yes. Like a lot of GitHub hosted plugins, using the link from the plugin page for the Moodle 2 download, you get a zip called ndunand-moodle-mod_choicegroup-bec94a5.zip so I needed to extracted the folder and rename to choicegroup. I uploaded this into the moodle/mod folder of my Moodle site. When it was installed through the notifications page it produced no errors and brought up no extra global settings. The source code is also available to browse.
Is there documentation for it?
The plug-ins page has a brief overview on the module. The Moodle Docs page has some information on installation and operation. There is also a link to the video from @moodlefairyon how to use it. There is also a forum discussion for the release of the plugin.
Is it easy for the teacher/admin to use?
The use of this activity requires groups to have been set up in the course. So once this is done, a teacher can then add this activity and configure it.
The form dropdowns automatically pick up the groups that are in the course, and the teacher can optionally allow the choice be changed, limit the number of responses and even set this on a per group basis.
The teacher can also restrict the answering time-frame.
Is it easy for the learner/student to use?
Yes, but guidance should to be given clearly as to what the impact of the decision is and whether you allow them to change or not.
Once the student has select and submitted, they can go back to the course and proceed.
In the example given, once the student has selected Apple as a group, he is able to see the forum specifically for apples.
If the student updates the activity and changes to the pear group then he can see the forum for pears and not see the one for apples.
Does it do what it promises?
Yes. This activity is really quite useful and I imagine than many people will use it in their sites.
Stars: 4 out of 5 stars for this activity.
These reviews check out the plugin for usability not for security. If you are considering installing any module on your site you should also check that is secure and does not impact the server performance.