Merging Courses

Aug 17, 2016 | Tips/How-to

Instructors may want to merge courses if they are using Canvas to teach multiple sections of the same course or cross-listed courses may wish to share course material across sections. Merging courses in Canvas is different from merging in ANGEL. This information will help faculty understand the differences and how to work in a merged course.

If your course is associated with an external content management system, please contact your instructional designer for more information on merging course sections.

Read Before Merging

Please consider the following before deciding to merge courses:

  • You will no longer have access to the original courses (including rosters or any content in them) once they are merged.
    You cannot unmerge courses on your own.
  • To prevent students in one section from interacting with students in other sections, you need to hide/disable certain settings. See detailed information below under “To ensure that students cannot interact with students from other sections.” (Students can still see students from all sections if they use the inbox feature.)
  • If you merge courses with the same students in more than one of the original course rosters, those students will show up multiple times in the “People” section but only once in the Gradebook. This will not affect the content in the course or the gradebook, but it will affect how students appear in the “People” section.

If you are unsure whether to merge courses, please contact your college/campus Canvas Liaison, Instructional Designer, or TLTCanvasSupport@psu.edu for more information before merging.

Best Practices/Tips

  • Save a copy of each original roster before you merge to check after the merge.
  • Create a Master Course prior to merging to house content for merged courses.
  • If you already have content in a course, copy it to this Master Course first.
  • Merge courses BEFORE content is added to those courses.
  • After the merge, import desired content from the Master Course.
  • Create a standardized naming convention for your merged courses that includes all of the section numbers or course names to prevent confusion for students and faculty. Example: ACCT 100 FA2016 Section 001/002/003
  • When creating groups, create group sets in Canvas for each original section if you wish to limit membership in the groups to students enrolled in the original sections.
  • Please note: You can allow students to self sign-up for groups and require them to be in the same section, but you must first enable the “People” option in the Course Navigation bar.

Using the Merge Course Manager Tool in Canvas

  • In Dashboard, select “Merge Course Manager.”
  • Title the new course in “New Course Name.”
  • See recommendations in Best Practices.
  • In “Create course based on,” select a base course (one of the courses to be merged). Note: The content in the base course will not migrate with the merge.
  • Ensure content is stored in a Master Course.
  • Select all courses to be merged (including the base course).
  • You must be enrolled as a teacher or admin in each course to be merged.
  • Content in all courses to be merged will be lost after the merge.
  • Courses to be merged cannot be published.
  • Courses to be merged cannot have student submissions.
  • Courses to be merged cannot be Master Courses or Sandboxes.
  • Select “Merge Courses.”
  • You will receive a notification: “Course Merge was Successful.”
  • The merged course will now be found by selecting “Courses” from the Navigation menu, then “All courses.” Note – course may not automatically appear in dashboard. See adding courses to your dashboard.

Gradebook, Assignments & Attendance in Merged Courses

As you use the Gradebook, create and manage assignments, and manage attendance in a merged course, these tips and practices will help to ensure a successful course offering.

Gradebook
  • The default setting shows all students from all sections alphabetized by last name.
  • You can sort by section in the top right drop-down menu by changing “Showing all sections” to the section you wish to view.
  • In merged courses that have the same students enrolled, those students will show up multiple times under “People” but only once in the Gradebook. You can use the Gradebook as a roster and sort the Gradebook by section.
Assignments
Attendance
  • Attendance by section – the original sections are listed on the top right of the “Roll Call” screen.

Using the Inbox to send messages to individual sections

  • In Inbox, select the “Compose a new message” icon.
  • In the drop-down menu next to “Course,” select the desired courses.
  • Select the people button next to the “To” field.
  • Select “Course Sections.”
  • Select the appropriate course section.

Option to ensure that students cannot interact with students from other sections

Some faculty members may want to restrict students from easily viewing or interacting with students from other sections in a merged course. To do this, you must hide or disable certain settings within the course.

  • Hide the following options in the course navigation bar
    • People
    • PSU People
    • Conferences
    • Chat
  • In course navigation, select “Settings.”
    • Disable student comments when posting course announcements.
    • Disable option that allows students to create new discussion topics.
  • When using the inbox feature in Canvas to send messages, select “Send an individual message to each recipient.”
    • Even if students select “reply all,” the message will only be sent to the instructor.
  • Groups/Discussion Assignments
    • Create Canvas student groups identical to each section that existed prior to merging. (See creating group sets in best practices above.) You will have to manually create groups within each section’s group set. Self sign-up within sections requires enabling the “People” option in the course navigation menu.
    • Assignment Options (Important considerations for discussions and peer-reviewed assignments):
      • Create a version of the assignment for each section and assign only to that section. (in the Gradebook, grade cells will be grayed out for students in sections not given that particular assignment.)

Note: Students will still be able to see all other students in the course when they are using the inbox feature in Canvas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I unmerge courses or get original sections back?
A. Contact lmssupport@psu.edu.

Q. Can I add another section to a merged course?
A. Yes, within the Merge Course Manager there is a tab titled “Edit Merged Course” which will allow you to pick an existing merge via a dropdown menu and then click on the checkboxes next to the sections you would like to add to this merge course.