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Multi-Section Courses in Canvas

Canvas synchronizes with the University’s Student Enterprise System, CAESAR, to maintain and update its course and enrollment data from the Office of the Registrar. Most Registrar courses are automatically created in Canvas via this process.

Some courses have multiple sections that students may enroll in within CAESAR. For courses like this, each individual section automatically has its own course site created within Canvas.

Each section’s course site in Canvas contains the student enrollments and the instructor(s) of record listed in CAESAR, along with its own areas for content, assignments, and grades.

Request a Combined Course Site in Canvas

Northwestern faculty and staff can request a combined course site in Canvas by filling out the online Course Combine Request Form. Please allow two to four business days for completion of this request.

If after reviewing the multi-section course options, you are uncertain which option is best, you may request a consultation.

Managing Multi-Section Courses

Instructors who teach multi-section courses may manage their sections either separately or by combining them using one of the following options:

The description and features of each multi-section course option are provided in the comparison chart below:

Comparison of Multi-Section Course Options

Features Option 1 Option 2 Option 3

Enrollments update automatically from CAESAR

 This is an image of a green check mark.  This is an image of a green check mark.  This is a image of a red letter X.
Different assignments can be created for each section  This is an image of a green check mark.  This is an image of a green check mark.  This is an image of a green check mark.
Individual section course sites  This is an image of a green check mark.   This is an image of an orange star signifying manual setup required.  This is an image of a green check mark.
Overarching all sections course site  This is a image of a red letter X.  This is an image of a green check mark.  This is an image of a green check mark.
Course materials posted to one section are available to all sections
 This is a image of a red letter X.  This is an image of a green check mark.  This is an image of an orange star signifying manual setup required.
Grading: All students appear in a single gradebook  This is a image of a red letter X.  This is an image of a green check mark.  This is an image of an orange star signifying manual setup required.
Grading: Gradebook view can be restricted by section  This is an image of a green check mark.  This is an image of a green check mark.  This is an image of a green check mark.
Grading: All grades appear in single gradebook  This is a image of a red letter X.  This is an image of a green check mark.  This is a image of a red letter X.

 KEY:  This is an image of a green check mark. Yes   This is a image of a red letter X. No   This is an image of an orange star signifying manual setup required. Requires Manual Setup

Multi-Section Course Site Options

Each option is unique in the way it treats enrollments, content, grades, and assignments.

Use the following key to understand the graphical representations of the options.

This is the key to the subsequent images for each option.

Option 1: Maintain Separate Course Sites for Sections

This option maintains each section as a separate Canvas course site, acting independently from the other sections. By default, this is how Registrar courses are automatically created in Canvas.

This is a visual representation of what is described in course site option 1.

Option 1 may be most useful when more than one instructor is teaching a course and each individual instructor wants to maintain their own course materials and gradebook.

For example, if you have a three-section course, it will automatically be created in Canvas as three individual Canvas course sites. You do not need to complete the Course Combine Request Form.

Advantages

Limitations

Option 2: Cross-List Sections into an All Sections Course Site

This option combines the student enrollments from each individual section into one Canvas course site.

This is a visual representation of what is described in course site option 2.

This option may be most useful when multiple instructors wish to share course materials, assignments, quizzes, and grades.

Option 2 offers the flexibility to provide course content and assignments either to the class as a whole or to an individual section through Canvas groups and Canvas sections.

For example, if you have a three-section course and you choose this option, you will have a single Canvas course site containing all of the sections’ enrollments.

Advantages

Limitations

Request a combined course site in Canvas.

Option 3: Maintain Both a Separate All Sections Course Site and Individual Section Course Sites

This option provides an overarching All Sections course site and the ability for individual sections to be maintained in their own Canvas course sites.

This is a visual representation of what is described in course site option 2.

Option 3 may be best for instructors who would like each individual section to have its own separate Canvas course site while allowing the flexibility to share some course materials.

For example, if you have a three-section course and you choose this option, you will have a total of four Canvas course sites — one for each of the three sections and one for the All Sections course site.

The All Sections course site is where you will place all the students enrolled in your course and any course materials you wish to share.

Advantages

Limitations

Request a combined course site in Canvas.

Last Updated: 19 December 2016

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