Multiple Course Sections

Faculty who teach multiple sections of the same course in a given semester have the option of consolidating these course sections in Blackboard into one master course. Please review the information provided below on this process and contact the IT Service Desk at 815-753-8100 or email ServiceDesk@niu.edu with any further questions.

Request Process

Use the Blackboard Faculty Tools to request creation of a master course.

Separate requests are necessary each semester. Note: Courses with different course numbers can now be combined, including honors sections, permit sections, dual level courses, and cross-listed courses.

What Happens Next

After submitting a request for a master course and selecting which additional course sections to combine, the courses will appear in the list of My Courses in Blackboard by the end of the next business day. Student rosters from the MyNIU database will be automatically populated into the section that you selected to be the master section from all sections being consolidated. Drops and additions will be automatically maintained in the master section with daily feeds from the MyNIU database. Both the master and related sections will appear in your Blackboard course list. You only need to add new content to the master section and set that one to be available to students. You do not need to do anything with the related sections.

Maintaining Individual Sections

When a consolidated master course is created, each of the individual sections is also created and the rosters are filled by the Registration and Records database. Typically, a faculty member only makes the master course available and leaves the other sections unavailable so the students only see the master course. The usual procedure at this time is to designate the first section as the master. The roster of that course is populated with the students from all the sections that have been associated with it.

Course Availability and Multiple Sections

When the upcoming semester starts, you only need to make the master section available, not the other sections. You can just ignore the other sections in your course list. The enrollment for all the combined sections should show up in the master course roster and be updated automatically by Registration and Records when there are add/drops. Once you set it to be available, all the students in the roster will see the master course.

Reversing a Master Course Relationship

While it is possible to reverse a master course relationship and therefore undo the combination of multiple sections in Blackboard, it is highly recommended to NOT reverse a master course relationship after the semester has started and students have been using it. If it is necessary to do so for some reason, the faculty member should consider downloading the Grade Center and possibly an archive of the course first. Whatever student records (discussion posts, assignments, tests, grades) are in the master course will NOT be moved to the related section(s) when the relationship is removed and will be disabled in the master section (except for the students actually enrolled in the section that was the master.)

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when I request a consolidated Master course?

Please refer to this page on how to request a master course. You can select the course sections that you would like to combine into the master course and designate one of those sections to be the master course. Requests for Master Courses are completed by the end of the next business day. Student rosters from the Registration and Records database will be automatically populated into the master section from all related sections. Drops and additions will be automatically maintained in the master section with daily feeds from the Registration and Records database (on business days). You will find that all sections will appear in your Blackboard course list. You only need to add new content to the master section and make only the master section available to students.

I am considering consolidating a multi-section (4 or 5 sections) lab course into a single master course. However, my lab TA's still need to maintain lists of students based on their original section assignments for attendance, grade recording, etc. Does the consolidated master course still retain (or can it be added) a designation as to the original section identifier for each student?

When a consolidated master course is created, each of the individual sections is also created and the rosters are filled by the Registration and Records database. Typically, a faculty member only makes the master course available and leaves the other sections unavailable so the students only see the master course. The usual procedure at this time is to designate the first section as the master. The roster of that course is populated with the students from all the sections that have been associated with it.

We do have the option when creating a master course to create an entirely new master section rather than using the first section as the master. If we did that, each individual section, including the first one, could still be used by the TAs to identify their students. The individual sections could also be made available to students for discussion with their section.

An alternate option would be to use Smart Views in the master course Grade Center to display only students from a certain section. However, all TAs in the master course would still be able to view or modify grades for all the students.

I have made the master course for my upcoming semester courses available. Do I also have to make the other three available for those students to get into the master?

When the semester starts, you only need to make the master section available, not the other sections. You can just ignore the other sections in your course list. The enrollment for all 4 sections should show up in the master course roster and be updated automatically from MyNIU on the following business day when there are add/drops. Once you set it to be available, all the students in the roster will see the master course.

I need to set up a master course for all sections of the course; however, each section has a different instructor of record.

In order to combine course sections that are taught by different faculty members, the faculty member(s) teaching the course need to obtain the permission from the department chair or individual permissions from each faculty member to create the master course. That permission and the request to combine sections into the master course can then be forwarded to DoIT at ServiceDesk@niu.edu for processing. DoIT will notify the faculty member who submitted the request when the process is complete.


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Technical Support and Student Help

Division of IT Service Desk

815-753-8100
servicedesk@niu.edu

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Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

815-753-0595
citl@niu.edu

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