Groups are mainly used to group learners together who require a common set of courses. For example if you have a Marketing and Sales department you may choose to create two separate groups for each department. In the Marketing group you would add your Marketing employees together with the Marketing related courses and would then massively assign those courses to your employees through mass actions (1).
You can also choose to set a default group in the system, meaning that anyone who joins the portal will get automatically assigned to that group’s courses. This can be used to assign core training, such as Health & Safety, that everyone needs to take no matter which department position they belong to. Users may belong to more than one group at the same time.
In addition to course assignment, using groups would also give you the ability to monitor the progress of those users altogether in a Group report. This report would be particularly useful to a department or team manager. You may choose to schedule this report to be received by a custom recipient at a specific time frequency and day (2).
Splitting your learners into Groups in the main portal, would mean that admins with the relevant permissions would be able to view all users and groups.
Branches on the other hand would allow you to divide your e-learning offering into different entities, each with its own set of courses, users, admins and branding. It would be useful in three main scenarios
1. To create completely separate training environments for a subset of users
2. To give an admin access to manage only a specific subset of users
3. To separate different audiences such as customers and employees, so that each would have their own gamification leaderboards, separate course catalogs etc.
Each branch would have its own URL, login page, logo, theme, language, timezone, default group, course catalog page, gamification leader board, reports, signup method and SSO provider. Users can belong to more than one branch and they can easily switch between their branches (3).
If all the above are the same for your users, then keeping everyone under the same domain and using groups to separate users can be easier to manage. However, if you would like to give admins access to only a particular set of users, courses and groups (i.e. the Marketing manager to only be able to view information related to their team) then branches would be the best solution.
Using Branches in combination with groups
Braches and groups could be used in combination if you would like to segment your users further. An example of this case would be using branches to separate different customers and using groups to further segment different teams within a customer’s entity.
Groups can belong to branches but not vice versa. In order for groups to belong to branches these should either be created directly through the branch URL or this would need to be defined in the group’s settings (4). In order for a group to work properly in a branch, it’s courses would have to be assigned to the branch first. A group cannot belong to more than one branch.