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What happens if multiple courses share sections with the same SIS ID?

Question asked by on Jan 10, 2016
Latest reply on Jan 12, 2016 by Kona Jones

Hi everyone, I'm a relatively new Canvas admin for a primary school in New Zealand. I have to have Canvas up and running by February 2016 and I've got a rather interesting problem.


As our student database doesn't have an API I'm left with using the CSV function to create users and place them in courses. I've got this pretty well set up so it's as easy as saving a CSV export from the student database to a directory on my computer and Excel files looking for the CSV files in that directory automatically generate all the users and courses etc. I then upload the CSVs of those Excel files and Canvas is set to go.


A few weeks ago I was adding sections to the specialist courses I had set up. The way we've opted to set things up here is for specialist courses (those courses such as cooking, art, science, drama, music) to have all the school students enrolled in one course but have the students split into sections for grading purposes etc.


Before I created the specialist courses, all students were added to a home class course (Year 1, Year 2, etc etc) and in that course I added them to a section because there are sometimes multiple Year 1, Year 2 etc courses. The end result might be a Year 5 course containing all Year 5 students, with sections 5A, 5B etc to allow teachers to grade their own students while keeping all course material in one place.


All students in the school are added to all the specialist courses, and added to their own section within those courses. So the end result is a Music course with all students enrolled with many sections such as 1A, 2A, 2B, etc etc, 5A, 5B etc etc.


What I didn't realize is that those specialist course sections shared the same name and SIS ID as the sections in the home Year 1 - Year 8 courses. The result from that was all the students were then automatically enrolled into their sections in the specialist courses, meaning I didn't have to do anything.


However after discussing this with our Canvas team helping us with the rollout, they weren't sure whether this was a good or bad idea as they'd never heard of this being possible let alone being done before. It was a complete accident that I came across this and none of the documentation suggests this could be done or is a good idea.


So I'm asking you whether it is a good idea to have many courses sharing the same sections and corresponding SISIDs. Is it going to come back to bite me or anyone else in the future by doing this? It's not too late to change, but if it doesn't affect anything then it would save me a lot of work when adding a single new student to the system and having to manually place them in the correct specialist course sections, when I can just enroll them in their home course and section, and enroll them in the specialist course only, with the section within those courses then taking care of themselves.


Thanks in advance for any insight!