How do I manage multiple course reference numbers (CRNs) with one course site?
When does it make sense to combine into one course site the student enrollments from multiple course reference numbers (CRNs)?
You might want to do this if you are teaching more than one section1. For example, in the Fall 2019 academic term, Prof. Xavier may be assigned to teach two lecture sections (sections "01" and "02") and two lab sections (sections "L01" and "L02") of Chemistry 999, each identified with a distinct CRN (e.g., "50234", "50235", "50302", and "50303" respectively).
Instead of using multiple Sakai courses, one for each CRN, you can use just one Sakai course to manage all the relevant course materials-- the syllabus, readings, lecture notes, assignments, quizzes, etc.-- for teaching Chemistry 999 that term. Furthermore, this content can be distributed to all the students of this course, regardless of the CRN in which the student is enrolled.
Managing one Sakai course (e.g., "CHEM999 Fall2019") instead of multiple Sakai courses (e.g., "CHEM999-01 Fall2019", "CHEM999-02 Fall2019", etc.) can significantly reduce the number of copies of course materials you need to maintain. This is especially advantageous whenever you need to make corrections to them. For example, assuming you are using the same syllabus for each course section, you can correct or supplant the syllabus in one Sakai course, instead of having to update each copy of the syllabus deployed across multiple Sakai courses. of the same course in a given academic term.
Warning: If you anticipate your gradebook will contain one or more items pertinent to only a subset of the entire class, you will likely need to take precautions to ensure students’ course grades are calculated correctly. For more details and guidance on this issue, refer to the article, How should I handle gradebook items not pertinent to the entire class?
1. A 'section' in this context means a group of students whose enrollments are associated with a 5-digit course reference number (CRN; e.g., "50234") where the meeting schedule with the instructor—(e.g., 1:00PM-2:45PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays)—is typically distinct from other sections in the same course. Furthermore, there may be one or more sections that meet for lectures, one or more sections that meet for labs, etc.
How can I request a new Sakai course that combines student enrollments from multiple CRNs?
You can request such a course site via the Request Course form. Simply follow the prompts to submit your request.
Can I combine other CRNs into a Sakai course that already exists?
Yes, assuming that the CRNs you want to combine share the same academic term as the existing Sakai course. In other words, you cannot combine CRNs from Fall 2019 into a Sakai course from Spring 20202.
Select the option, "Add CRNs to an existing course site," in the Request Course form, and follow the remaining prompts to add CRNs to an existing site.
Regardless of academic term, you can import course materials into your Sakai course from any other course or project sites that you maintain in Sakai. This is done by way of the 'Import from Site' function of the 'Site Info' tool. See How do I copy my content from one site to another?
How can I add CRNs that are associated with another professor for a Sakai course that we are co-teaching?
Refer to the article, How do I setup a course site for a course I am co-teaching with other instructors?
If I use just one Sakai course to teach multiple sections, how can I distinguish one section from another?
You can use 'groups' in Sakai to distinguish course sections (or any arbitrary group of students). Furthermore, many tools in Sakai are 'group-aware', meaning that such tools recognize the groups defined in your course, enabling you to perform actions on any particular group (e.g., send an email message to members of one distinct group via the Email Sender tool). For useful examples and instructions pertaining to group-aware tools in Sakai, see What are group-aware tools?
What are groups? How can I view or edit them in Sakai?
A group is simply a collection of site participants (usually students) that you can define for each course in Sakai. Groups are useful for organizing persons into particular course sections, project teams, study groups, etc. Groups are visible and editable through the Site Info tool. (See the screenshot below which outlines in red the areas on the Site Info view that pertain to groups.)
While you can use the Site Info tool to create and edit your own groups, please note that groups for CRNs can be automatically managed for you as 'auto-managed groups'. (See next item below.) As a rule, auto-managed groups should not be edited in Sakai. For more details about managing groups in the Site Info tool, see How do I create groups?
What are auto-managed groups?
'Auto-managed groups'—an abbreviation for 'automatically managed groups'—are based on course reference number (CRN) to indicate which students belong to which CRN. These groups are auto-managed such that the instructor is freed from having to maintain the membership of these groups in order to keep current with who is enrolled in which CRN. In other words, students who enroll in your course after your Sakai course has been created will be automatically added to your course and also become a member of the appropriate auto-managed group for the CRN in which they are enrolled. This automation occurs once a day.
As a rule, you should not edit auto-managed groups in Sakai.
How are auto-managed groups created?
Auto-managed groups can be created and managed on your behalf if you check the box labeled "Create groups of students in Sakai based on CRN enrollment"—(checked by default)—when requesting a course that combines multiple CRNs via the Request Course form.
How can I distinguish auto-managed groups from the groups that I create manually in Sakai?
Go to the Site Info tool and look for the light-blue section labeled 'Groups'. Refer to the screenshot below. In the Site Info tool you can click on 'Groups' to expand or collapse the group listing as desired. Groups that are auto-managed will have a 'key' named 'auto.managed.group' in the group description below the group name. Without the 'auto.managed.group' key and its associated value, the group is not auto-managed, meaning that group membership is not managed automatically on your behalf.