Mastering LMS User Groups: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated on August 7, 2023

Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are often tailored around open access, individual learning. Let’s take the example of online courses, which are a common use case for LMSs. In most cases, you’d set your course to be always open — anyone can purchase it, and access it whenever they want to. This approach is tried-and-tested, but there are also some scenarios where you’d want to enable group learning.

As we’ll discover in this article, the two main benefits of group learning are that it unlocks further monetization opportunities for course creators, and it motivates students to complete the course.

If you’re interested to set up group learning on your online course, we’ll show you how to do this with WordPress with Sensei LMS. Whether using an LMS for the first time or looking to improve yours with the addition of user groups, here’s all you need to know.

What are user groups in Learning Management Systems? 

User groups in Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are a way to organize users within the system into specific categories or teams. With user groups, participants are grouped together based on certain criteria, allowing for targeted communication, content access, and progress tracking within the LMS.

In a user group format, the course content is typically divided into modules or units, and all participants within a particular group move through the material at the same pace. This structure enables a cohesive learning experience for group members, encouraging collaboration, interaction, and shared progress.

Enabling group learning within an LMS offers several benefits for course creators and learners alike. Let’s explore the three main scenarios where group learning is particularly important:

  • You want to pre-sell your course. In this scenario, you would set an access period for your course and allow students to enroll up until the launch date. This strategy offers several advantages for course creators, including the opportunity to gauge the interest and demand for your course, generate revenue in advance, and allocate resources to further enhance the course content and delivery.
  • You want to collaborate with educational institutions, training corporations, or other similar organizations. In this scenario, a company or institution may buy several seats in your course to support their employee training programs or educational syllabus. As a course creator, you will want to enroll all participating members as a group so they can learn together, and you’ll have the flexibility to schedule and drip content to facilitate this. This type of collaboration presents a potentially lucrative opportunity and allows you to customize the course’s aesthetics, incorporating elements such as stylized branded certificates.
  • You want to create personalized learning paths. You may have a lot of material put together for a course and may want to restrict or show specific content based on the interests and level of the student. For example, if you have a course on how to play drums, you may create personalized paths for beginners, intermediate players, and advanced players. In this scenario, you’d need to streamline the learning paths for each group.

Benefits of group learning for course creators

There is ample research supporting the effectiveness of group learning in eLearning contexts. For example, a study conducted in 2022 highlights the importance of creating a sense of joint responsibility among learners. This finding emphasizes the value of group learning, where learners collaborate and engage collectively. 

Not only does group learning benefit the learners themselves, but it also provides significant advantages for course creators. Let’s look at the main ones below:

Monetization opportunities

We’ve already touched on a couple of scenarios where group learning could be lucrative, which are course pre-sales and collaborations with institutions. 

By creating access periods and offering the course to a group of learners at a specific time, you can build anticipation (and Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO), create a sense of exclusivity, and potentially increase sales before the course begins.

Advertising your courses to relevant institutions means there is potential for one entity to purchase multiple seats at once for students or employees. Additionally, this can open up opportunities for partnerships, co-branded programs, or tailored courses that meet the specific needs of these organizations.

Simplified course management

As an educator, efficient course management makes your life a lot easier. Group learning simplifies and streamlines the process by allowing you to simultaneously manage a defined group of students rather than dealing with individual enrollments and timelines. 

This approach offers several advantages from an administrative standpoint. Advanced reporting tools allow educators to track the progress of the entire group, saving time and effort compared to managing each student individually. Additionally, managing discussions and providing support becomes more manageable as educators can focus on addressing group-wide questions and concerns.

Furthermore, having students at the same stage of the learning journey reduces confusion for instructors. They can provide targeted guidance and feedback related to group assignments and monitor individual progress within the context of the group’s pace. Identifying students who may require extra support becomes easier, as their progress can be compared to that of their peers.

Improved course completion rates

As already mentioned, collective learning and group assignments will boost engagement levels, which will inevitably lead to improved course completion rates. More importantly, students will achieve better results and benefit from having gained a memorable learning experience. This is particularly noteworthy when the course is taken by peers who are part of the same educational institution or company.

Thanks to BuddyPress, another valuable WordPress plugin, it’s also possible for online students to collaborate via an online forum. Working as a cohort will establish a community vibe while giving learners the chance to build relationships, network, and engage in discussions with others who share similar learning interests and goals. Higher completion rates and increased student happiness will reflect well on your business, which will boost your reputation and long-term ROIs.

Measure the effectiveness of your course

By implementing group learning, you can gather valuable data and insights about the effectiveness of your course. You can track group progress, monitor engagement levels, and collect feedback from the cohort as a whole. 

This data can help you identify areas for improvement, evaluate the impact of your course, and make informed decisions for future iterations or enhancements.

Enabling group and cohort learning with Sensei LMS

Sensei LMS is an LMS plugin for WordPress websites, that allows you to create online courses and sell them directly on your WordPress website. If you’re not currently using WordPress to host your own courses, check out our article that explains why WordPress is, in fact, the best Content Management System for course creators

In addition to a slew of course creation and course management features you get with Sensei, you can also enable group and cohort learning:

  • Add students to customizable groups to manage course access, show or hide content (which is great for personalized learning, as we’ve seen), and run reports on group learning (which is great for delivering statistics back to educational/corporate institutions you’re working with). 
  • You can also assign start and completion dates for group learning within your course. 

To get this functionality, you will need Sensei Pro, which is available in two plans:

  • If you already have a WordPress website and want to extend it with LMS capabilities, get the Sensei Pro plugin.
  • If you don’t have a WordPress website yet, get the Sensei Bundle, which includes a WordPress install on, Sensei Pro, our Course theme, analytics by Jetpack, and more essential tools!

How to set up group learning with Sensei

After installing Sensei Pro on your existing WordPress website, or setting up your Sensei Bundle on, you will be able to take advantage of every feature that Sensei LMS has to offer, including the use of group learning.

How to create a new group in Sensei

To create a group, you must first sign into your WordPress LMS site and navigate to Sensei LMS > Groups.

Navigate to groups

The next step is to click New Group. You should then input the name of the user group before hitting the Create Group button. You could name your group by the organization name, skill tier, or course start date.

Creating and naming a new group

If done correctly, the new group will now show on the list of groups from your Sensei plugin.

How to add students to a group 

To add students to a group, access the Groups page in your Sensei LMS dashboard, locate the desired group from the list, and lick on the name of the group to open it.

Then you simply click Add Students before entering their details and clicking Add to Group. 

Search for students to add them to the group.

Once done, all students should be listed under the Group.

List of students within a group

How to assign a course to a group or cohort

To assign a course to a cohort, you will need to open up the group from the Sensei LMS plugin. Then you will need to click the Cohors and Access Period tab (near the top of the dashboard). Following this, you can search for the course in the text box and select it. 

Assigning a course to a cohort.

Once you have done this, the course should be automatically assigned to all students in the cohort. You can check this by navigating back to the Group Students tab and looking at the Enrolled Courses column.

How to set up access periods for a group

To set up an access period for a group, you will need to navigate back to Sensei > Groups > [NAME OF GROUP] > Cohorts and Access Period. Having already added the course, you should see a Start Access Period and an End Access Period link. Click each and add the appropriate dates from the pop-up calendar.

Setting up access periods for groups in Sensei.

When done correctly, you will see the dates listed next to the course title.

An example of access periods

How to create unique learning paths for different groups

Whether students are grouped together due to being part of the same organization, or whether they’re grouped by enrollment date, you may need to hide or show content to specific groups at certain times. This can be achieved through Sensei’s Visibility tools.

To do this, you must first create and upload the content “lessons” to your LMS WordPress site. Following this, you’ll need to;

  • Navigate to Sensei LMS > Lessons
  • Select the Lesson that you want to drip feed from the list of lessons and click Edit.
  • Once the lesson has opened, use the Sensei Drip tab under the content to decide when the lesson should become available to learners. This can be based on a specific date or triggered by hitting a certain interval. 
Scheduling lessons in Sensei
  • Click Update on the top right of the editor.
  • For individual blocks of content within the lesson, you can limit visibility by group by using the ‘Block’ tab of the right column. This allows you to select who can see the content immediately, along with when it should become visible to groups.
  • Click update once again.
  • Navigate back to Sensei LMS > Lessons and look at the Drip Schedule to confirm that the changes have taken place.

Unlock the power of group learning with Sensei LMS

In this article, we’ve seen that enabling group learning as a course creator brings several advantages. It unlocks numerous monetization opportunities, simplifies course management, and enhances the learning experience for students. 

Sensei LMS is an exceptional tool for creating courses on your WordPress website, offering advanced functionality for setting up group and cohort learning. If you already have a WordPress website, you can get the Sensei Pro plugin. Alternatively, if you’re starting from scratch, the Sensei Bundle is a comprehensive choice. 

To enhance your LMS site with group creation capabilities, explore the available plans today and take the first step towards boosting your eLearning platform.

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