Cross-listing Video Tutorials

Community Champion
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Cross-listing is a way of porting Sections of students in one Canvas class into another while keeping their Sectioning in-tact. Cross-listing is helpful for teachers with multiple classes of the same subject because instead of copying or importing content multiple times every time content is created in one course, the teacher creates it once in a class containing multiple cross-listed sections. If that's a little confusing, I completely understand. I struggled with this too, until I could play around and see it first-hand. Hopefully, this document helps you see this first-hand without having to play too much around with this concept yourself.

This coming school year our school district is using the PowerSchool integration, and many of our teachers, especially elementary specialist itinerants, will be getting many auto-created Canvas classes that match their PowerTeacher Sections.

  • THINK: an elementary art teacher traveling between two to three elementary buildings with 2-3 sections per grade level per building.
  • THINK: a freshman center Biology teacher teaching 6 periods of College Prep Biology.

This can add up to a LOT of importing and exporting content between the identical classes. As I turned to cross listing I initially had difficulty understanding the idea and terminology used and seeing how the application of this tool could help our teachers. Eventually, after looking around and trying it a few times myself in our test server, I thought it would be helpful for our teachers (who don't have access to our test server) to see it in action in our institution's Canvas environment. To me it just made sense to share it with others here in our Community who might find it helpful to see additional example of cross-listing to help them as well.

Below are screencasts I created to share the cross-listing process. The screencasts can get a little wordy because I wanted to share details of each step. For example, instead of saying something like, "Do this for the remaining two classes," I actually record the repeated steps so the viewer can see them again, and perhaps start to anticipate the moves I make before I make them by the last repetition -- at least, that is the intention.

The series of videos below uses the following scenario:

  • a music teacher's Canvas classes created automatically by the PowerSchool integration
  • 4 PowerSchool Sections of General Music = 4 auto-created Canvas classes of General Music
  • 3 class Sections, one from their respective, auto-created Canvas class, are cross-listed into 1 auto-created Canvas class.

The videos certainly won't win me any Oscars, but for our program they will do the trick. Drop a comment to let me know if they helped you out!

Bonus Question: Can you identify the students' name relationships in each of the demo class Sections while you watch?

After you watch, check your answer by highlighting between the arrows below the table.

Canvas Cross-Listing 1 of 4: Renaming Sections

Editing the Section names in your Canvas classes will help you differentiate one from another when they are all in the same Canvas class together.

Canvas Cross-Listing 2 of 4: Cross-Listing Sections

Although you can search for a course in the cross listing process I used the course number to cross-list in this tutorial.

Canvas Cross-Listing 3 of 4: Modify a Canvas Class Name

Help avoid potential student and observer role confusion for the Sections of users who now share the same class space by changing the name of the class and removing any period-of-the-day numbering from its original creation.

Canvas Cross-Listing 4 of 4: De-Cross-Listing Sections

There might come a time during the school year when cross-listing, after giving it a fair try, just isn't right for your teaching needs. If this happens, never fear. Just de-cross-list your Sections back into their original Canvas classes.

Did you catch the students' names? Check how you did by highlighting the space between the arrows with your mouse.

--------AnswerCheck-----> Section 1 were Planets; Section 2 were Continents; Section 3 were Trees; Section 4 were Colors <--------AnswerCheck-----

Community Explorer

This was really appreciated @QC99_tsilvius !

I'm trying to determine if cross-listing makes sense for my purposes. It's unclear to me why you'd use cross-listing over simply just setting up sections within a course? Our courses are evergreen and therefore we don't work on due dates when it comes to assignments and course start/end dates.

I understand the advantage of only having to update content in one course. But are there any other advantages to using cross-referencing that you've discovered?

Thanks in advance.

Community Champion

Hi @detour-jenn 

Thanks for the feedback. I'm so glad to see this post still getting some mileage and helping others! 

Crosslisting helps institutions with LMS integrations to consolidate their instruction to a single Canvas class while retaining the auto-sectioning of student rosters. Our district integrates our SIS with Canvas so our courses are auto-created at the start of our school year and are pre-populated with our SIS rosters. So if your district doesn't connect your SIS with your CanvasLMS then crosslisting really isn't needed. As you mentioned, as students join your course you can just place them in Sections by yourself.


Institutions that do sync their LMS with their SIS gain valuable interoperability features between the two student information & learning technologies. For example, we benefit from such integration services such as our class lists in Canvas being sync'ed with our class rosters in our SIS (PowerSchool) and also Grade Passback from Canvas to PowerSchool as well. As the office enrolls students in our classes in PowerSchool, the student appears in our Canvas Sections automatically and vice versa when the student schedule changes or moves out of our district. The automation is such a time saver. 

What we ALSO get with both systems talking together like this is an individual Canvas class for EACH section of students. This might sound nice at first, but what this does is floods the teacher's Canvas Dashboard with LOTS of Canvas class enrollments to sift through when finding a kiddo even with the nicest course cards or clearest naming conventions on your Dash class cards.

Crosslisting allows teachers who teach the same subject for multiple class sections (as I do when I teacher many sections of band class as a band teacher or a Math teacher who teaches 3 periods of Alg1) to merge these different rosters of students (all sectioned-out in their individual Canvas classes) into singleton Canvas classes in the same space. However, even though the sections are now sharing the same Canvas class space, the students stay organized in their unique sections as well as retain their unique LMS identifier/tag. This way they can occupy the same Canvas class space (and same modules, class menu Apps/shortcuts/ExternalTools/etc, same announcements/syllabus, etc saving the teacher from re-posting/re-sharing the same content in different classes) while still being able to be sorted by their section. 

Does this help answer your question?


Community Explorer

Super helpful. Thank you for sharing more about your use case. 

Community Explorer

Hi!  This is exactly what I was looking for; however, the videos are private.  I'm logged in through Canvas.  Any idea how to view the videos?