I am working with a problem like this and have been for 6 years with different solutions. Based on the conversation so far, my issue may be different than yours but I will tell you anyway.
My challenge has been to give date specific timelines to groups of learners running on different timelines. For example, I have full year, sem 1, sem 2, and summer students all in the same moodle course. I tried copying the course, but that made course revisions quite horrible to manage. So, I have opted for groups and groupings plus an external calendar that we link to the moodle course.
Here are the bare bones:
- I have a course organize in activity clusters that take about 3 hours each. Each one is in a section (for full year, the section is one week of work, for semester kids two sections are one week, and for summer, two sections are one day).
- All of our assignments are dumped into the external calendar (contained in our LOCKER) . There I link each assessment item to a date in a calendar for each learning group. That gives a timeline to each group. I can customize each student's timeline within that based on starting late. Our technical guy is pretty clever.
- The groupings then help me to focus student attention of their next activity by revealing only the next few weeks of work at a time. This is triggered by larger assessment pieces like unit tests.
I hope this helps. I will be posting my own question here regarding making conditional restrictions easier to edit en masse.