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Community Member

One-To-Many Course-To-Section Practices

We're a new HigherEd Canvas customer and have several production courses this fall for "beta testing."  Right now, we're creating courses and sections in a 1-to-1 manner to keep things simple.  We have traditional cross-listed courses to deal with, but like most schools, many of our faculty members would love to have sections of the same course merged under a single course for convenience.  I have many questions about how we might implement a 1-To-Many Course-To-Section SIS integration, so I was hoping the Canvas community could share experiences about how your institution makes this happen.

In our scenario, our current course and section naming format is something like 16FA_MATH1301A and 16FA_MATH1301B.

  • How do you name or ID your courses once merged/cross-listed?
  • How do you handle changes in the catalog before the semester starts?  Ex. Instructor Jane is teaching section A & C, and Joe is teaching section B.  Then section A gets reassigned to Joe (now A & B) which leaves Jane with just section C.
  • Do you allow merging/cross-listing after a course has been published?  Are there any sanity checks for that?
  • How much development work did you invest in making One-To-Many work?
  • Do you do atomic API calls for everything or do you use CSV files?
  • Do you auto-merge all sections or do you have some way for instructors to add their desired courses to a "merge list"?

It may not be relevant, but we're an Ellucian Colleague shop.

Thanks for your time,

Cameron Moore

Hardin-Simmons University

PS - I'm aware of the FERPA issues.

4 Replies
Community Member

We are a large Community College with very few, if any, traditional cross listed courses, so you can take my answer for what it's worth. We also use the 1-to-1 model for all of our courses and sections, with everything populated via SIS.

How I manage it here is that any instructor who is teaching two or more sections of the same course can submit a request for their sections to be merged in Canvas. They can submit their requests to me at any time, but I will only perform the merge in Canvas during the week prior to the first day of classes. I do this specifically to avoid the issue of sections being re-assigned to someone else, like you mentioned. I also warn them to not load any content into the shells in Canvas until the merge is completed, since content will not carry over with the merge. I will not perform any merges after classes have started, to avoid any possible risk of student data being lost in the process. As far as I know, the course(s) being Published/Unpublished doesn't matter much.

When I perform the merge, the only names/IDs that I change are the Name and Course Code fields of the "new" merged shell. Here's an example:

Course 1 Name: CHM1046 (160367) - General Chemistry II

Course 1 Course Code: CHM1046 (160367)

Course 2 Name: CHM1046 (160368) - General Chemistry II

Course 2 Course Code: CHM1046 (160368)

---- Post Merge:

Course 1 Name: CHM1046 (160367 & 160368) - General Chemistry II

Course 1 Course Code: CHM1046 (160367 & 160368)

If I merge more than two sections together, I rename them like this: CHM1046 (160367, 160368, 160369) - Gen Chem II.

All SIS IDs are left in tact, including all Section information. As procedure, I always roll the higher reference number into the lower one, so I went into 160368 in the above example and merged it into 160367. It really doesn't matter, it's just what I always do.

I do this process manually, and only by request. We've only been on Canvas exclusively for about 1.5 yrs, so right now there are only about 5-6 requests each semester that I have to process. Since it doesn't take much time, I have not looked into automating the process at all and do it strictly manually.

Hope that helps!

Community Coach
Community Coach​ might have some feedback on this, as well. Although she's doing a quick demo on Cross-Listing, De-Cross-Listing, Re-Cross-Listing, Oh My!​ my bet is she may have some insights, as well. Smiley Happy


Ack, the pressure​! Smiley Happy

Actually, much of what we do is a cautionary tale. Definitely kudos to​ for really thinking this through from the beginning. I'd say these are the points I wish we'd focused harder on during implementation:

  • Naming conventions for sections. Because when you want to look at, say, the gradebook for one section, you need to be able to tell the difference between English Composition I and English Composition I. You can manually edit them, but if they are unique to begin with, you save a step.
  • Making sure that Banner sends the info in a logical way. So, for example, if you cross-list Photography I with Photography II, they're put in the Photography I shell.
  • Making sure instructors know what courses are cross-listed in Banner, and that they understand what that means in Canvas.

And here's my top tip, for once this is all up and running: If you cross-list courses after the fact, after students have already done work, the work done in the child shell will "disappear". The work will magically all come back if you de-cross-list those sections. It sounds simple, but it took me one long, awful weekend in June 2013 to figure this out (and back then, Canvas support didn't seem to know that was the answer either). Ah, good times Smiley Wink


Thanks for the reply,​! Sorry to put you on the spot 😕 But your feedback is really helpful! Smiley Happy