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david_mendez
Community Member

New To Canvas: New Course for Each Period?

Should  a course be made for each different period of the same course?  What is common practice?  Or is there a way to define students and grading periods that are added/edited when one course is made?

3 Replies
kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi david.mendez , and  @dmendez8  Welcome to Canvas and welcome to the Canvas Community!

By "period", are you meaning the time of day the course sections are being taught? for example, 1st Period English, 2cnd Period English, 3rd Period English, etc.?

I work in higher ed, and common practice for us is that each section have its own Canvas classroom. I also think this is the best route to go in K12. However, this is a discussion that should take place in your school or district in order to develop a consistent practice.

Since you are new to the Canvas Community, I would suggest joining and following the K-12‌ focus group in here. I will share your question with then, too, since they can best  talk about K12 practice in this regard.

Kelley

thompsli
Community Champion

This is one of those "it depends" things. The advantage of giving each period its own Canvas course is that it keeps everything separate, which can prevent confusion if different periods end up having different assignments. It also keeps class use of the discussion boards, peer reviews, and things of that nature confined to students in their own class period, which may or may not be required for privacy reasons where you teach. 

On the other hand, if all of your periods run identically, and you see students from all periods having access to the same discussion boards and peer-reviewing each other's assignments as a positive rather than a negative, having a common Canvas course with a section set up for each period is probably a better way to go. You can still separate out assignments by only assigning them to certain sections if needed. (So, for example, if you wanted all of your discussion boards to be an all-day free-for-all, but wanted the peer reviewers for their big paper to be from their period, you could make copies of the big paper assignment titled "Big Paper Period 1", "Big Paper Period 2", and so on for each period and then assign that version of the assignment to just that course section. If all you need is for quizzes to only be available during that particular class period, you can do that by assigning the same quiz to each section at different times of day within a single quiz or assignment. Not all things can be easily broken out by section, but many things related to assignments can since you can assign things to just one section. You can hack a lot of other section-based restrictions from there if you need to by clever uses of things only assigned to certain sections and use of module prerequisites to gatekeep certain modules to certain sections, but it can get pretty complicated and hacky if you're doing a lot of that.)

If you go with entirely separate classes, you'll probably end up spending a lot of time copying things back and forth, which is not always as easy to do in Canvas as I'd like. Particularly, Announcements do not copy cleanly between classes with all metadata intact. I end up just opening up a set of tabs with the "new Announcement" page for each of my courses and copying and pasting my title, then my text, each time I need to make a mass announcement to all of my courses because I do not get a satisfactory result "importing" announcements from once course to another. (I no longer remember the specific problem. It might have lost the author? Or the post time? Or the comment settings? I remember it being an issue, and not getting a satisfactory outcome when I opened a support ticket about it, but not specifically what happened because it was over a year ago.) Canvas doesn't seem to have a great workflow for "I want this thing to go in these 5 of my classes in exactly the same way all at once" that I've found yet, but I admit I have not played with the Blueprint options, which it's possible would do what I want, and even more possible might work well for a situation with multiple periods of an otherwise-identical course. My issue is that I teach 5 "regular" math classes, 1 "weird" math class, and one non-math elective course in Canvas each term. For some housekeeping things (example: "Ms. Thompson is home sick today and will not be holding office hours") I want all classes to get that information, for other things I want all 6 math classes to get that information (I keep common exam dates for all math courses, but not for the elective), and for yet other things I want the 5 "regular" math classes to get that information (all 5 of those classes share grading/late work policies, for example).

My tendency when I taught in a brick-and-mortar school was to try very hard to keep all periods of the same class on the same schedule so I could post homework for each subject I taught rather than subject + period. Less for me to update and keep track of that way, and parents are also more likely to remember which teacher their student has than also remember which period their kid takes math, so given that at the time I was posting the homework assignments publicly on a class blog it also reduced the chances for confusion. Since that's what I did when I had a classroom, that's probably how I'd try to use Canvas in a classroom context. All of my teaching in Canvas has been asynchronous online, so I don't currently teach in an environment where it makes sense to offer multiple "periods" of my classes during a given term rather than just put everyone in the same Algebra class, so this isn't something I have direct experience with.

lmoreira
Community Contributor

Something that you can do as well is to have a single course but with several sections inside of it. If the content is the same across all periods, that would save you a lot of time. To learn more about that, you can check out this link for a list of Pros and Cons of Cross-Listing Sections:

https://arcadia.instructure.com/courses/3678/pages/pros-and-cons-of-cross-listing-course-sections?mo...