UPDATE 2019: Have updated the table below to only reflect current observations with sections/ groups and large courses.
As we move into our final stages of implementing Canvas in a large University, every day we are faced with more and more challenges when it comes to managing large courses, specifically around Sections and Groups.
We are trying everything, and I wanted to share this experience with you, along with reach out for any feedback/ trials and errors you may have also faced.
Firstly, I mention large course management - but most of what I mention affects our smaller courses too, it is just that users tend to be more willing to find their own workaround for these issues in smaller courses - and we tend to only see the pain points raised when teachers are managing over 1,000 students in a single Canvas shell.
Secondly, I will also mention that large course management is a Khaki 2017 focus area - Though, the only delivered outcomes of this focus group are:
I will also mention Ideas where some items I mention below are pegged for future development.
So, at our institution, we, like most, have large courses, and within those courses, we use Sections to manage student classes/ break these courses up. These classes are representative of their face-to-face class, and students will move around these classes up till (and sometimes post) timetabling closing/ census date.
Large courses, along with section movement (students moving between sections) has seen us face multiple problems - some of which I have noted below!
|Problem||Options for management|
|Group Limitations - |
The University of Michigan has kindly shared a Course Manager tool (allowing teachers to create and edit sections across courses they are enrolled in, and batch group management) - GitHub - tl-its-umich-edu/canvas_course_manager
Course role management of sections is bound by too broad permissions.
Idea document: Canvas Permissions and Granularity Feature Ideas
More granular permissions are needed in order to open up limited section management to course roles. This is in Ideas but has been talked about for years.
We have a conflict between the use of integrated data and course functionality that uses sections, and we need a way to assist course roles to have limited section management so as not to interrupt the integration but allow for full use of the section specific course functionality.
As mentioned in the previous problem item, the University of Michigan has kindly shared a Course Manager tool (allowing teachers to create and edit sections across courses they are enrolled in, and batch group management) - GitHub - tl-its-umich-edu/canvas_course_manager
|If a student moves around sections (made inactive in one section/ active in another) it is difficult to know what participation was made in which section. It is also difficult to know which section is inactive via the 'People' page||You need to navigate to the individual user profile to view which section is active/ inactive.|
|Submitted by Jen Burn|
|Submitted by Jen Burn|
|Vote for SpeedGrader Should Allow Grading of Large Classes submitted by UW Learning Technologies|
Ensure you are well versed in the Speedgrader guide and are aware of these thresholds https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-12774-415255021
I understand we can submit feature ideas, and push for votes, though this is no guarantee or indication of what will be developed. We have had Batch Group Management, for example, sitting at over 200 votes for some time now.
I wanted to reach out to this group and ask what are you doing now? While we wait for these items to improve...
How are you managing large courses?
How are you managing sections on a large scale?
How are you handling groups on a large scale?
How can we all raise this, and champion to Instructure, that we need more work in this area, we need more focus on large courses and section management!
Do you have any tips/ tricks?
Are there any external tools (limited development needed) that help?
I appreciate you making it this far in this post, and look forward to learning from all of you!