Ok folks, I'm coming at this with a non-tech background, so I apologise if I'm doubling up on anybody's previous comments. I was having a hard time understanding why we may find both ways of doing this useful, when a client put through a support request this morning. Their situation is as follows:
They have a generic base course, and provide international training. So they have common resources and activities, and resources in particular that are intended for only specific countries (as legislation is different in different locations). They also have stand-alone entities in the countries that would like their own private forums - but not every stand-alone entity wants this (or Separate groups would be a viable option).
I advised as follows:
We have separate entities for each of Sydney, Perth, Auckland and Wellington. These entities are in the countries Australia and New Zealand. Sydney and Auckland want their own private forums. Australia has its own set of additional resources, so does New Zealand.
Our structure runs thus: Groups for Sydney, Perth, Auckland, Wellington. Groupings for Australia (containing Sydney and Perth groups), New Zealand (containing Auckland and Wellington groups), Sydney (containing Sydney group) and Auckland (containing Auckland group). Resources for Australia allocated to Australia grouping, for New Zealand allocated to New Zealand grouping. Forums built for each of Sydney and Auckland and allocated to groupings for the same (if we use Separate groups, Perth and Wellington will be able to see a forum they do not want access to).
Its the last step that I find frustrating - having to create a container for a single group just to be able to allocate a specific resource or activity to it. Sam, if I understand correctly, you're saying this rarely occurs at OU, so groupings is fine. Many of the users I work with have a need for this though, and the restricted access to a smaller selection of groups is flexible and readily understandable.
This example however demonstrates how groupings co-exists nicely beside restricted access. When only one or two groups want access to private forums, using restricted access with groups makes sense. When I have many groups from the one location needing access to specific resources, Groupings is a better alternative.
While I understand the idea of avoiding code-bloat, its my understanding that Moodle was built to be simple enough so that teachers without a technical background can use it - and Groupings for allocating to a single group doesn't fit this!
This doesn't have to be an either/or situation. Code bloat to me is including code that is superfluous, not code that adds extra functionality. Restricted access to groups can't provide the bulk management of groups that groupings offers, but neither does Groupings offer an elegant solution to restrict to just one or two groups with ease.
I have asked some of the clients who have experienced difficulties with this to come and comment on this issue, but several have indicated they are a little perplexed at the more technical side of things in tracker I'm hoping this post helps make it simpler - and that by putting my understanding out there, it can be corrected by wiser minds if needed!