Please be aware that the group functions can only be used in private short courses and courses that make up Microcredential and Degrees.
When it comes to learning and course creation, there are three types of groups that are often referred to on FutureLearn: Learning Manager groups, Study Groups, Small Collaborative groups.
This document aims to explain the differences between these three types, and to give more information about each type, and how it can be used.
The main difference between all three is that Learning Manager (LM) groups are used to manually group students into smaller cohorts, and these groups can be used with either the study group or small collaborative groups feature.
Learning Manager groups
A Learning Manager (LM) group is a group created by the organisation in the Learning Manager tool where students are added manually and deliberately into the group.
- LM groups are only available on invite-only courses as these require that learners appear in Learning Manager.
- LM groups can be used for either Study Groups or small collaborative group tasks.
- LM groups do not have a limit on how many learners can be allocated to an LM group (we do provide recommendations based on which features they will be used with).
- LM groups can be reused for different program runs.
- A learner can only be in one Learning Manager group per program run.
- Learners invited to the organisation through Learning Manager or the University-initiated enrolment API can be added to a Learning Manager group before they’ve accepted their invitation and created their FutureLearn account.
- Learners can be added and removed from the LM groups up until the start date of the first course that is using that group. After that date, they can be added but not removed.*
- LM groups are set up slightly differently depending on whether you want to use a LM group with Study Groups or small collaborative groups.
A Study Group is a feature within a course that allows students to hold discussions alongside the content of the course. Students can access it by clicking the ‘Study Groups’ tab on their course page.
- Learners can be randomly allocated to a study group or the study group can be linked to a Learning Manager group.
- Regardless of which allocation method is used, an organisation admin must enable the study group feature on the course run before the start of the course. This step must be completed before the course starts.
- To do this, please ask your contact at FutureLearn to go to the Facilitation tab of the course in Course Creator. From there, click ‘Study Groups’, and then click the ‘Switch Study Groups on’ button.
- If randomly allocating students, enabling the group is the only required action ahead of course start.
- If using LM groups with Study Groups, please follow these instructions
- Study Groups do not require a “mentor” to be added during the Learning Manager group setup. Mentors are only relevant to small collaborative groups.
- Courses within a program run can only use either randomly-allocated or LM groups, not a mix of both.
- The content of study group discussions is only available at the course run level, and cannot be accessed from a different course run than the one it was used on.
- Study Groups appear in the Facilitation tab in Course Creator only after the first learner has clicked the Study Group tab in the course, regardless of whether the course uses randomly-allocated or LM groups.
- If randomly allocating students, the partner can customise how many learners are in each study group. The default is 80 learners, but it can be adjusted by multiple of 5s (so 5 learners, or 10 learners, etc). This can be done on the Study Group facilitation page in Course Creator, under the Settings tab.
You can find out more about setting up Learning Manager for use in Study Groups here.
Small Collaborative Groups
Small collaborative groups are a feature where students are grouped together to work on a set of three steps which mirror the experience of working in a group setting. This feature uses the Learning Manager groups to allocate students. There is much more information about this feature, the pedagogy behind it, and an explanation of each step here.
- Small collaborative group tasks must be used alongside Learning Manager groups.
- The course team provides support for each group’s work by assigning Mentors when setting up the Learning Manager group who can facilitate -- monitoring and intervening as needed into the groups during the timeframe set for each task.
You can find out more about setting up Learning Manager groups for use with Small Collaborative Groups here.
*Learners can still be removed from the LM group after the course has been added, but this won’t remove them from the corresponding study group or small group collaborative tasks if they’ve already joined.