Your New Superpower: Manage Multiple Course Sections at Once

Contributed By

Dylan Rodgers

Content Strategy Manager and Editor in Chief of the Schoology Exchange

Your New Superpower: Manage Multiple Course Sections at Once

Posted in Schoology | July 07, 2015

If you were a superhero, what special powers would you have? I always default to Dr. Manhattan from the graphic novel, Watchmen by Alan Moore. Aside from the fact that he can do pretty much anything, one of my favorite powers is his ability to be in many places doing many things at once.

Just imagine the dovetailing you could do with a power like that! Believe it or not, Schoology Enterprise users have it. Our latest feature enables you to teach and manage multiple course sections at once. It's called Course Section Linking, and it'll make you the Dr. Manhattan for education.

One important note before we dive in—Course Section Linking is a big feature that spans your entire course. This blog only covers the highlights, so make sure you take a look at our Help Center article. It has all the details.

What is Course Section Linking?

If you use Schoology Enterprise, then you have the option to link sections of the same course together. Course section linking is a great way to manage all sections of a course more efficiently.

When sections are linked, they all share the same set of materials. They also have toggles enabling you to switch between each section instantly. 

To briefly put this in context, imagine creating a 30 question quiz and it being instantly available in all your course sections at once, even with different due dates, locking times, and more. Then imagine adding in the grades for one section in your Schoology Gradebook and switching to another section's gradebook in two clicks.

Pretty sweet.

Needless to say, course section linking will save you tons of time. And as for your students, they'll have the same experience they've been having. This is really designed to improve the instructor's experience.

 Want to do this on Schoology Basic? Try using Grading Groups as the different sections of your course.

Linking the sections of your course is easy, and there are a couple of different ways to do it. The first way is by creating new courses.How to Link Sections Together 

Second is by editing an existing section and adding new linked sections to it. That will appear similar to the form above. Lastly, you can also link existing sections together.

But not all sections can be linked. When you want to link sections together, it is required that they:

  • are categorized under the same course
  • have different students
  • have the same administrators
  • have the same grading periods

An Important Best Practice for Section Linking

We recommend that you ONLY link sections at the beginning of a school year or semester. The reason being when you link, say, three sections together, one becomes the master section (referred to as "original") and the others mimic the master.

In other words, linked sections all share the master section's materials and grade setup. Any materials, grade settings, grades, etc. contained within the other sections (i.e., the non-master sections) will be removed at the time of linking.

"Unlinking" Course Sections

One of the nice things about Schoology is you always have options; once you've linked sections, you can also unlink them. Just keep in mind that if you separate two linked sections, the materials, grades, and data will remain only in the master section.

 When you unlink sections, you have two options. Make sure you are aware of the effects.

  • Restore course to its original materials will restore that section to the way it was before it was linked. If it was an existing section with data, all that data will be restored.
  • Unlink and move enrollments into a new section will remove everything and start you over with a fresh course—i.e., no materials, no data, nada. This cannot be undone.

As mentioned before, linked sections really only share the same materials and grade setup. Otherwise, they are all completely separate.

Toggling Between Sections

That means an update to Section 1 will only be seen by students of Section 1. This goes for all other areas of the course as well, including the Gradebook, Mastery, Badges, Attendance, Members, Analytics, and Workload Planning areas.

There is, however, a better way to jump into your other sections in a couple clicks using toggles. The rule of thumb: section toggles always appear near the top left of the page.

Toggle in the gradebook area

These toggles will make jumping back and forth between sections quick and easy. If you're in the gradebook in one section, you can toggle to the gradebook in another section. I like to think of it like a wormhole—i.e., the quickest way between two points.

You'll even have toggles to switch between assignment comments, media album submissions, BigBlueButton sessions, etc.

There is one difference here, however, and that is Course Updates. This area does not have a toggle. Why? Because it's an aggregated feed of all the updates and comments happening in all your sections.

Notice how each update is tagged with its respective section. The same goes for all materials too, because you can give each section a different assignment, which leads us to the last feature highlight. 

Creating and Managing Course Materials

And now the moment you've all been waiting for! Course section linking lets you create course materials from within your course and have them instantly go live in all your sections! This will be a huge time saver for those of you teaching multiple sections.

The beauty of this feature is that you get all of the benefit without much change. Just take a look at the assignment creation form below. Notice the ability to adjust how the material acts in each section.

Being able to control how materials are delivered to each section like this opens up a number of possibilities. You can easily create one material with separate availability, due dates and times, and locking date and times for each section. 

* * *

That's it for the major highlights of this feature. You'll see pretty quickly how far-reaching this feature really is.

But before you dive in, please see our Help Center article. It will guide you through some of the most important things to remember when linking and unlinking sections.

We also have a great LEAP webinar on course section linking that will provide you with some best practices.

Share with us what you think right here on the blog or via Twitter (@Schoology). We always love the feedback.

 

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