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[Sticky] Pros and Cons of Combining Course Sections


Vivie Sinou
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What is Combining Course Sections?

Combining course sections (also known as cross-listing) is used in Canvas to combine the enrollments (students) from two or more courses into a single Canvas course shell.

Cross-listing is typically used in the following scenarios:

  • There are two (or more) levels of a subject (such as PETHEORY 44A/B/C/D).
  • A teacher has multiple sections of the same course (ENG 1A -13035, ENG 1A -13046), and chooses to combine them to streamline workflow.
  • The same course is taught under different subject names for different degrees (i.e. ANTHRO 4 and HUM 4), but the content is the same.

 

Fill out the Canvas Shell Combining Request From if you would like to combine two or more courses. This must be done before the start of the semester.

 

There are pros and cons to combining course sections:

 

Pros 

 

Cons

  • No reversing (once the course is cross-listed, you cannot separate the sections without losing all student submissions and grades).
  • All the cross-listed sections or courses will now have the parent course's name in Canvas (e.g. if you are combining ENG 1A 34507 and ENG 1A 34518, both these courses will be named the parent course, ENG 1A 34507). Students may get confused and think they were enrolled in the wrong section (which they weren't), so you might just want to make an announcement or send them an email about it.
  • Creating section-specific announcements, files, pages, and modules is a bit more complicated (As of now, it can only be done by setting up Student Groups) for each section and adding content within the group pages. Otherwise, all sections will see the content you add to these areas).
  • You cannot mute section-specific assignment grades. You either have to mute all sections or none.
  • Combining multiple full-size classes can lead to an unwieldy Discussions, Gradebook, Speedgrader, Analytics, etc.
  • If the two courses have different outcomes, assignments, or due dates, it can be difficult to juggle the necessary settings.
  • While you can filter by section under People and in the Gradebook, if you export the Gradebook into Excel, all the sections will be exported.

 

Other Things to Keep in Mind

  • Combining and de-cross-listing should be completed before students begin to work in the course shell. If students are moved out of their native course shell (by cross-listing), their work in the class will no longer be accessible.
  • If you want to keep students from seeing and/or interacting with other sections, you will need to select the "Limit this user to only see fellow section users" option for each student. This is a great best practice for large classes. If students registered for an ENG class expecting to work with 30 classmates, they may resent having to shift through posts of 60-90+ students.  

 

Please post any follow-up questions on this functionality in this forum.

Thank you. 

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Charlene Nunes
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So if I have three sections combined and I have a discussion for all, if I ‘limit this user to only see fellow section users’ they only see THIER SECTION in the discussion meanwhile *I* will see all three sections in the one discussion- - correct?

If I then reply to a student in the discussion, will only the students in that section see the reply (I think so.) but if I reply to the original discussion will all of the sections see my reply?

Thank you for the clarification. 

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Vivie Sinou
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@Charlene Nunes - I don't know, Charlene. Your assumptions make sense, and that's how it should work. Famous last words. I'll have to test this with fake student accounts. 

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Aaron Garner
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@Charlene Nunes. I believe you would need to create groups for each section and assign each group to their appropriate group.

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charlene
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@aaron-garner Yes, I would have each section in a group, but it is all the same discussion...so If I make use of the "limit this user to only see fellow section users" will the STUDENTS get the feel of a smaller discussion, while I see all of it? Does that make sense?

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Aaron Garner
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@charlene The students will only see what they have been assigned and will not see the other section.  When you click on the discussion, you are given an option to choose which group you want to look at.  And what's even cooler is that there is a little drop down menu that allows you to switch between groups.

I'll try and do a short video which might help.

Aaron

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charlene
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@aaron-garner Perfect! that is exactly what I would hope for Smile I was led to believe I would have to make three discussions (by canvas chat help) so hen I saw this discussion, I started to have hope 😉  If you are able to that would be great, but I'm sure I will be able to figure it out...

My understanding is I cant "create group stuff" until I make the groups and to do that I need students....So I'm trying to be patient...

Thank you,

Charlene

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Sabiha Rizvi
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I like this arrangement, and appreciate  you explaining the pros and cons.

I agree,large number of students is very chaotic to manage, and the students too get over whelmed.

I have gone through a similar situation, when the world of F.T.F suddenly ended, and all my 3 sections of 1-A were together,it was one big scary situation.

I have come long ways, with thanks to the support of  Vivie and her wonderful team.

Thanks everyone.

All the best,

Sabiha

 

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Aaron Garner
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Here is a little video.

 

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Vivie Sinou
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@aaron-garner - Nice, Aaron! ?  Thanks so much for testing this. The video really helps!

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charlene
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@aaron-garner THANK YOU! Yes this does help. I might try to experiment in my live class.

Many thanks,

Charlene

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Aaron Garner
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@charlene. Thanks for the great question.  It was a learning experience for me as well.  Plus it forced me to relearn how to set up groups which took me a bit to figure out again.  Let us know how it works out.

I can see even trying two slightly different discussions for each group or section - something like Discussion 1A and 1B.

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charlene
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@aaron-garner I never have used groups so....

I have read up on them and THINK I know how, but as soon as I get students in my shell, I will start the learning process all over.  I may play in my dev shell and see if there is a way to set up groups without students...that would be nice.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Aaron Garner
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Glad it's helpful.  This was a learning experience for me because I don't use groups.  Now I want to though.  I forgot that you get a mini home page with groups that allows you to send announcements, create pages, manage files and create conferences for an individual group.

Bummer you can't create quizzes or assignments on that page.  Sad  

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Amber Wolak
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If we combine course shells, what happens with ConferZoom?  Will students in both sections be able to click on the same ConferZoom link?  Or would I have to host separate ConferZoom "live" sessions for each section?

 

Thanks!

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Vivie Sinou
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@Amber Wolak - I actually just answered this question via email this morning. 

Thanks for raising it here, so that others can benefit from the response! ? ? 

If you have combined your sections, you can’t schedule different Zoom sessions from WITHIN Canvas. All sections will be in the same zoom sessions (they are now 1 class).

If you really want to schedule different zoom sessions for each of your sections, you CAN do it from outside Canvas.

Follow these steps:

  1. HIDE ConferZoom from your Canvas shell (go to Settings >> Navigation >> drag down conferZoom to the invisible tabs >> save your changes at the bottom of the page. (BTW – While you are there, you might want to hide all the tools that you don’t use from your students’ view. It keeps their left course shell menu clean and easier to find what YOU use in your course).
  2. Log directly into your http://conferzoom.org/ account, and schedule your Zoom section’s sessions there.
  3. Create TWO Announcements - one for Each Section -- and include all the Zoom Meetings there. Before you click on Save to post an announcement, you have a choice to choose which section to post it to: (these are sample sections – not your own)
    image

    This allows you to announce the specific Zoom sections to each section.

 

You may also find this discussion thread in our forums useful. It talks about how to use conferzoom.org for office hours (OUTSIDE of the ConferZoom app in Canvas).

The same approach discussed in this thread can be used for your sections/zoom setup:
https://pdcdeltacollege.com/forums/zoom/how-do-i-use-zoom-for-office-hours-appointments/#post-456

 

 

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Amber Wolak
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@vivie-sinou  

Thank you!  I actually want students from both sections to be able to click on the same Zoom link.  (Basically, I am going to offer morning and evening optional synchronous sections, and I have both morning and evening students in both of my sections.  It would be easiest if I could simply tell students from both sections to click on the "ConferZoom" link during the time that works best for them.  

 

So just to clarify, students from both sections (in one combined shell) can simply click on the same "ConferZoom" link in the left menu bar, and they will all be able to access the same live session?

 

Thanks!

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Vivie Sinou
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Posted by: @Amber Wolak

So just to clarify, students from both sections (in one combined shell) can simply click on the same "ConferZoom" link in the left menu bar, and they will all be able to access the same live session?

 

Thanks!

That's correct, Amber! If you want students from both sections in the same Zoom sessions, that's the way to go! The ConferZoom link is right there, convenient, and easy to access. Whatever you set up there will be available to all students.

? ? 

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Aaron Garner
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Great solution Vivie and probably better than my alternative which is "Big Blue Button."  "Big Blue Button" has limitations compared to Zoom, but you can pretty quickly invite individual students to a conference.  If you had a huge class it might be cumbersome going through the entire combined list.  For smaller classes or a group subset of a class it could be a quick way to do a conference.

Big Blue Button is in Conferences on the left hand side of the navigation.

Edit:  I just watched a video on "Big Blue Button" and it's pretty slick.  Big Blue Button Video (Conferences)

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Isabel Anievas
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Quick question. This is my first time combining Canvas shells. When I look at People I see all my students combined, with the number of their sections next to their name. When I click on sections, I still see all 70 students combined. Is there anyway to sort students by sections in the People section of the class?

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Jennifer Azzaro
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@Isabel Anievas I don't see a way to sort by section under "People," but you can filter by section under the Gradebook, if that helps at all. 

Go to Gradebook > View > Filters > Sections ... and then you'll see a pull-down menu toward the right side of the screen that allows you to select a section.  Screenshot below (click it to see the larger image). Hope this helps!

Gradebook
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Isabel Anievas
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@jenn-azzaro

Yes, it does! I was looking for it and somehow I missed it! Thank you so much, Jenn! 🙂

Isabel 

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Aaron Garner
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@Isabel Anievas What is the reason you want to see students by section?  I'm asking this because depending on the reason you there might be a workaround for this.

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Isabel Anievas
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Hi Aaron,

Thanks! I think I have figured out how to do most of the things I wanted to do (assign class discussions, send messages, and check the gradebook by section) To be honest, I was mostly asking because I could see the "Sections" in People, but when I clicked on it, I could only see the groups I had started creating, so I was wondering if I had accidentally disabled my sections in People when I started to create my new groups 😉 

Thanks again 🙂

Isabel 

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Aaron Garner
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@Isabel Anievas Glad you got it figured out.

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Isabel Anievas
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Well, I thought I had figured it out, but, here is the thing. I have created duplicates of all my class discussions. I have assigned the duplicates to my second class section. It seems to be working. The right students are participating in the right discussion. However, when I go to the gradebook and I take a look at it by sections. Only the original discussion grades are posted. The duplicate assigned discussion that seems to be running shows up in the gradebook, but it is empty of data. There is only one student in it, the test student. 

Any idea of what I may be doing wrong?

Thanks!

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Isabel Anievas
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Never mind! I figured it out! Both discussions show up in the gradebook under both sections (I have so many assignments that I had to scroll for a long while to figure this out). So, one is blank, the second one has the right data in it. So, I guess, both duplicates show up in each section even if they are only assigned to one section. Which now that I know, it is not big deal. Unless there is a way around it?

 

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Isabel Anievas-Gamallo
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I have a couple of additional questions regarding discussions assigned to different sections of a class in the same Canvas shell.

My first burning question is: If I add both class discussions as requirements to complete a module (before moving onto the next module) would that lock the students who have only been assigned to one of the discussions (and not both) from moving onto the next module? In other words, can I still have my Introductory discussion as a requirement to move to the next module now that I have two duplicate discussions in one shell?

Second burning question: I also have an ungraded Open Forum Q&A discussion. Since is not graded, I cannot technically "assign" it to different sections. Correct?

Ok, enough questions for today, I promise!

I hope everybody is surviving the first week so far!

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charlene
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So I have the same discussion, just broken into section groups in Canvas - not sure about different discussions, but if it is only assigned to one group, it should not affect the others...

I have a Q&A discussion as well, I did not break it into groups and it seems okay (But yes, you could break it up if you wanted to)...this way they don't ask the same questions in three places I have to go check Smile It seems to be working well, and I am posting my zoom office hours (if we discuss something relevant) in this area too with a quick description of what I discussed.

Have a good one!

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