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Community Member

Can I implement site-wide groups aka "cohorts" or many-to-many cross-listings?

One of our colleges was using cross-listed courses in our previous LMS for their RPT process. They created courses for various RPT committees and then cross-listed those courses with additional courses created for each faculty member. Since our previous LMS left the original courses intact rather than merging them into the cross-listed course, they could create many-to-many relationships between the courses without having to duplicate the enrollments manually. For example:

Course 1: RPT Committee 1

Enrollments:

  • All members of RPT Committee 1

Course 2: RPT Committee 2

Enrollments:

  • All members of RPT Committee 2

Course 3: Faculty Member 1 - Cross-Listing of Course 1 and Course 2

Enrollments:

  • Faculty member 1
  • All members of RPT Committee 1 (via cross-listing)
  • All members of RPT Committee 2 (via cross-listing)

Course 4: Faculty Member 2 - Cross-Listing of Course 1 and Course 2

  • Faculty member 2
  • All members of RPT Committee 1 (via cross-listing)
  • All members of RPT Committee 2 (via cross-listing)

This would be difficult to replicate in Canvas since the cross-listed sections are moved from their original course to the cross-listed course. For example, once Course 1 is cross-listed with Course 3, it could no longer be cross-listed with Course 4. To cross-list a course multiple times, we would have to duplicate the sections and the enrollments they contain.

Is there another way to accomplish this? Side-wide groups aka "cohorts" were another option in our previous LMS, but we chose not to implement them. Is there something similar in Canvas?

15 Replies
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Community Coach
Community Coach

Honestly I'm not sure how you could automatically do this other than some programming on the back-end of Canvas; Canvas doesn't have site-wide groups or cohorts. I'm going to share this with the Canvas Admins​ and Canvas Developers​ groups in the Community to see if they can help or offer up some suggestions.

I can say that we do something similar for our Online Peer Review process, but I manually add people to the various courses - which really isn't that bad and doesn't take that long.

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I'd agree with Kona - is there a specific reason you need to crosslist?  it would only take a few seconds to copy the enrollment from Course 1 and Course 2 into Courses 3 and 4.  It also means that if there needs to be additional people in Course 3 and 4 that aren't part of 1 and 2 (or vice versa), there's no issue there.

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In our previous LMS, cross-listing these courses resulted in the enrollments being synchronized so we didn't have to copy them manually. It also allowed us to maintain all the course relationships within the LMS. If synchronizing the enrollments in Canvas requires a manual process and/or an external API-based solution as kona@richland.edu and garth@academicplatforms.com have suggested, we could still cross-list the courses, but I don't think it's worth it. Since we'll be synchronizing the enrollments externally, we might as well maintain the relationships between the courses externally as well.

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Surveyor II

malgozzi@uncc.edu​ I don't think Canvas is designed to work this way.

Canvas is designed to accept course enrollments from a Student Informatin System.

Do you have an SIS?  Does your SIS provide features to help you manage groups of people?

I would look to your SIS and see if there is a solution there to help you manage enrollment of groups of people.

You could also create your own group management tool using the Canvas API

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We do integrate with an SIS, so I'll ask if it provides any group management features. We would still need an external component to connect the groups to the appropriate Canvas courses, but at least the groups themselves would originate in the SIS.

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Enrolling the group users in each course can be managed using the SIS Import process:

If you use the SIS to manage your groups and enrollments, the import process makes the Canvas side automatic.

We have been using the SIS Import process and it has been very smooth.

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These courses don't originate in our SIS, so the SIS has no knowledge of them. We may be able to manage the groups in our SIS and use the SIS import process to enroll group members into the appropriate Canvas courses, but I think the relationship between groups and courses would still have to be maintained elsewhere. Somehow the SIS import process needs to know that "the members of group 1 should be enrolled in courses A, B, and C" and it won't be able to get that information from the SIS or Canvas.

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Lamplighter II

Canvas does have admin level groups but the groups feature at this level is lacking quite a few features. I am not sure if they would work for what you want to do. The one upside to using groups at this level is the notifications are some what separate from courses which is the issue I have with using courses as groups. 

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If you create a Group at the account level, can you enroll that group or assign that group to a course?

I don't see a way to do that, but I do not know all the nooks and cranny's : )

With respect to Cohorts, we track that type of group in our SIS, and manage course assignment of the cohorts in the SIS.

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