What does it mean to join (or merge) Canvas course sections?

Joining course sections allows two or more sections of a course to be taught using a single Canvas course “shell.”  For example, if you are teaching COR-310-03, -04, and -05, you can request to combine all three sections into a single Canvas course. The title of the new course will be COR-310-03/04/05, and students from each section will be enrolled in the new course shell together.

What are the advantages to joining multiple sections?

Since multiple sections can be taught from a single Canvas course shell, there is one point of administration instead of two or more. This can be a big time saver. Instructors are able to upload a file or create a new assignment once instead of multiple times. Assignments can have unique due dates for each section if necessary. There’s also a single gradebook where instructors will enter grades. Students remain identifiable by their section in the roster and in the gradebook.

What are the disadvantages to joining sections?

There are a few caveats to joining sections. First, all students are now enrolled in the same Canvas course, which allows them to interact with one another even if they are in different classes. Second, joining sections is not recommended if you plan to adapt content to each section individually. Lastly, some instructors find that managing one Canvas course with a large number of students more difficult than managing separate Canvas courses with smaller enrollments.

There are also some special privacy-related considerations for joined courses that you’ll need to comply with under FERPA. Learn more here.

Text graphic reading: Please Note: Once sections are joined, we are unable to decouple those actions.

How do I request that my sections become joined?

To join your course sections, please use the Request to Join Courses form. This method sends your request straight to the Canvas admin team in Information Systems, and is preferable to emailing the CLT. Thank you!

You must request to have your courses join no later than the Wednesday prior to the start of the semester. The Information Systems team is unable to join sections after students have been enrolled in Canvas courses.

Text graphic reading: Please note: You should make your request prior to uploading or copying any content into your Canvas course since joining sections will not merge the content from multiple sections (content from only one section will be preserved).

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