How to Use Linked Sections (Enterprise and Enterprise Plus)

Linking Your Sections

If you use Schoology Enterprise, you have the option to link the sections of any 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 and grade setup. This means you only need to create materials and set up your gradebook once, even when you teach multiple sections of the same course. Linked sections also have toggles you can use to switch between each section instantly, so you can keep the sections separate while enjoying a more streamlined workflow.

The linked sections feature was designed to improve the instructor's experience. Your students will continue to see and experience Schoology in the same way they always have.

Note: Course Admins will be automatically prompted to download a gradebook comma-separated value (CSV) file when unlinking or linking their course sections. Although Schoology strongly advises against linking or unlinking sections once school has started, as it results in loss of grade data for child sections, you can now use the CSV file to replace the missing grade data in the child section.

Enabling the Link Sections Permission

Note: This feature must be enabled by your System Admin. 

System Admins: To enable users' ability to link sections:

  1. Click Manage Users in the left menu of your home screen.
  2. Click Permissions.
  3. The Link sections permission is in the Courses area of this page.
  4. Check the box corresponding to the permission Link sections and the instructor role at your organization in order to enable instructors to link their sections together.
  5. Click Save Permissions at the bottom of the screen.

Note to System Admins: Users with the ability to link sections will be able to create new linked sections from the Course Options area of the original section, even if they do not have the Create course permission enabled.

Important Information About Linking Sections

  1. While you are able to link sections at any point once the permission is enabled, we recommend that you only link sections at the beginning of a school year. When you begin linking sessions together, the master section is the one that you link other sections to. Those that get linked will set aside any existing materials, grade settings, and data. The linked sections then replace any existing materials and grade setup with that of the master section.
  2. If you need to unlink your linked sections at any point during the school year, be aware that if you separate two linked sections, only the master section retains the materials, setup, grades, and data. Scroll down to Unlinking Sections for additional information. 
    Note: When you link or unlink sections, as a safeguard against losing grade data for child sections, you are prompted to download a spreadsheet file containing all the grade data for child sections. See the "Gradebook File Download when Linking or Unlinking Sections" instructions below for details.
  3. In order to link your sections:
    • The sections must be within the same Course.
    • The sections must be associated with the same grading period.
    • Enrollment must be unique across the linked sections. There cannot be any overlap in the students.
    • The sections must have the same Course Admins.

How to Link Sections

If you are a course admin who has the Link sections permission enabled by your system admin, and your sections meet the prerequisites outlined above, you can link your existing sections together by following these steps.

There are three different ways to create linked sections. 

  1. Click your Courses drop-down menu and and select See All



    Steps 2-7 demonstrated in .gif above:

  2. In your list of courses, click the gear icon to the right of the section you consider to be the "master section". If you have materials in both courses, the "master section" is the one that holds the materials and grades you would like to continue to use between the two sections. 
  3. Select Link Existing Sections from the dropddown.
  4. Select the section(s) to link and click Next.
  5. As a safeguard against losing grade data for child sections, you must select to download a grade export file for each section being linked. See the "Gradebook File Download when Linking or Unlinking Sections" instructions below for details.
  6. Select the file type to download:
      • As a Standard CSV spreadsheet.
      • As a CSV file that you can use to import into other systems, such as an SIS.
  7. Click Download and Next.
  8. Click Link Sections.
  9. A warning message displays: 

    "You are about to link the following sections to [Section Name]. Note: Materials from these sections will not be copied into [Section Name]. Once complete, the sections will share grade setups, materials, and the profile of the destination section, however, member enrollments will still belong to their respective sections." 

    This means that the section for which you clicked the gear icon will be the master section–the linked sections will now all have access to and use the materials in that master section. This includes Course Materials and items in your Grade Setup (such as Grading Categories, Rubrics, etc). However, the original rosters of students when the sections were separate will remain the same after you link the sections.

  10. Click Link Sections. 

Note: In order to link your sections:

    • The sections must be within the same Course.
    • The sections must be associated with the same grading period.
    • Enrollment must be unique across the linked sections. There cannot be any overlap in the students.
    • The sections must have the same Course Admins.

If any of these prerequisites are not met, the other section(s) will be grayed out. If you hover your mouse over the grayed-out section, you will see a tooltip explaining the cause of the issue.

 

2. Creating a New Course with Linked Sections

Alternatively, you can create linked sections while creating a new course. To do this, click Courses at the top of your page, and select Create in the lower-left corner of the drop-down.
Note: If you do not see the Create button, it may be because your System Admin has not enabled the permission to create new courses for your role.

In the Create Course screen, press +Add  to add linked sections to the course you are creating.

If you are unsure about how to fill in the Section Code field, check with your System Administrator to ensure your name convention is consistent with other courses at your school.

3. Adding a New Linked Section to an Existing Course

You can also create new sections that are linked to an existing course from the Course Options area of the existing section.

To create a new section that will be linked to an existing section:

  1. Click Courses on the top navigation bar.
  2. Select the section in the drop-down you would like to make the master section.
  3. Click Course Options in the left column of the course page and select Edit Info.
  4. Click +Add in the top Section Name row to create new sections that are automatically linked to the current section. 

How to Use Linked Sections 

Linked sections share the same Materials and the same Grade Setup. All other areas of the course are separate, but as the Course Admin you can toggle among sections in each area. 

  • Making announcements and posting updates
  • Creating materials
  • Using Course tools
    • Course tools include: Gradebook, Mastery, Attendance, Members, Analytics, Workload Planning, and course-level Apps
  • Grading 

Making Announcements and Posting Updates in Linked Sections

When you link your sections together,  you can send updates to all of your sections within a course at once. When you create an update, by default, the post will go to all of your sections. You can click the x next to each section name if you do not want that section to see your post.

When you post an Update to linked sections, it will appear multiple times in your Updates area–once for each section you post to. However, the update only displays once for your students, for the section in which they're enrolled.

Creating Materials in Linked Sections 

Linking sections enables you to manage your materials in one place. When you click Add Materials after linking your sections, the items you add to your course are added across all of the sections. 

To create identical items across the linked sections, simply clicking Add Materials and fill out the create form of your desired Material type as usual. Enter the due date in the date field next to All Sections

Customizing Materials in Linked Sections

However, if you would like to differentiate the due date and availability of this item for each of your linked sections, click Select Sections to Customize below the Due Date field. Select the section(s) to customize and enter the Due Date for each section. If you would like to make an exception for one section to have its own due date (or time), click Select Sections to Customize and then check the desired section. Selecting a specific section will pull out that section's availability fields, and all the other sections are labeled Everyone Else:

 

If you would like each section to have its own due date, check Select All, as in the example below.

A Note about Availability of Materials in Linked Sections: If you publish items from the gear icon drop-down menu on the Materials page, you publish the item to all sections; you cannot customize availability. 

You will receive the message "Are you sure you want to publish [material title] for all linked sections?"

Click Publish All to add the material.

Using Course Tools in Linked Sections 

Courses with linked sections share the same Materials and Grade Setup. Everything else in your course, however, remains separate.

In your other Course tools–the Gradebook, Mastery, Badges, Attendance, Members, Analytics, and Workload Planning areas–you'll have toggles to switch among different sections. These toggles appear near the top left of the page.

For example, this screenshot of the Gradebook area in a course with linked sections shows the expanded drop-down menu you can use to toggle between linked sections in a course.   

This same drop-down menu appears in the Mastery, Badges, Attendance, Members, Analytics and Workload Planning areas as well:

 

Grading in Linked Sections

Setting Up Your Gradebook

Grade Setup does not change at all once your sections are linked. This screen looks the same as it would if you did not link your sections, and all of the items you create here–grading categories, grad scales, rubrics, and the settings you apply to your gradebook–will apply to all of the sections within this course.

Administering Grades

You can grade your materials in Schoology from directly in the Gradebook, or from the item itself.

Gradebooks across linked sections remain separate. You can use the toggle tool and drop-down menu to move among the Gradebooks for your different linked sections:

 

Similarly, you will see a toggle tool when grading from the item itself. Below you can see screenshots of this tool in the different types of materials:

Assignments:

  1. Open the assignment.
  2. In the Submissions column on the right, select a section to see its list of student submissions.

Discussions:

  1. Click the Discussion to open it from the Materials page.
  2. Use the toggle in the Discussion Toolbar at the top to switch among the posts in the different sections.

Tests/Quizzes

  1. Open the test/quiz from the Materials page.
  2. Select the Results tab along the top.
  3. Use the section toggle at the top to switch among submissions for the different sections.

 

Unlinking Sections 

Once you've linked sections, you can also unlink them. However, when you unlink sections, the materials, grades, and data will remain only in the master section. 

Note: When you link or unlink sections, as a safeguard against losing grade data for child sections, you are prompted to download a spreadsheet file containing all the grade data for child sections. See the "Gradebook File Download when Linking or Unlinking Sections" instructions below for details.

To unlink sections:

  1. Click Courses at the top of the screen.
  2. Click See All in the lower right corner of the drop down.
  3. In your list of courses, click the gear icon to the right of the linked sections.
  4. Select Unlink Sections from the drop-down menu on the gear icon.

 
When you click Unlink Sections, you are prompted to select the section(s) to unlink, as well as the two options of what happens to the unlinked section(s). Make sure you are aware of the effects:

      • Restore Course to its original materials  restores that section to the way it was before it was linked. If it was an existing section with data, that data that existed before you linked the sections will be restored.  Only the master section retains the materials, setup, grades, and data. In other words, any material created after linking sections will only be retained in the master section when you unlink. The child section will revert back to what it looked like before you linked the sections.
      • Unlink and move enrollments into an new section moves the students enrolled in that section into a new blank course - without materials or any other data. This cannot be undone. 
  1. As a safeguard against losing grade data for child sections, you must select to download a grade export file for each section being unlinked. See the "Gradebook File Download when Linking or Unlinking Sections" instructions below for details.
  2. Select the file type to download:
      • As a Standard CSV spreadsheet.
      • As a CSV file that you can use to import into other systems, such as an SIS.
  3. Click Download and Next.
  4. Click Unlink Sections to complete the process.

Gradebook File Download when Linking or Unlinking Sections

When you link or unlink sections, the grade data for child sections is not retained–only the student grade data for the master section remains visible in Schoology. The child sections are restored to how they were before the sections were linked or unlinked.

For this reason, Schoology strongly recommends against linking or unlinking during the school year; but we also realize that sometimes you will have link or unlink sections. For this reason, we've added a safeguard to ensure that grade data in child sections is still available to Course Admins: requiring a download of the gradebook spreadsheet for each child section when linking or unlinking. 

Before completing the linking or unlinking process, Course Admins must choose from one of two downloads: 

  • Standard CSV:
      • Select this option to download a CSV file version of your gradebook. This spreadsheet is formatted similarly to how it is in Schoology, with the student names vertically and material titles along the top.
  • CSV for import into other system:
      • Select this option to download a CSV file with more detailed student data. This spreadsheet is separated by columns for mapping purposes to use to import into another system, such as an SIS gradebook. 

Grade Calculation Differences

There are several important differences in how grades are calculated between the two formats.

  Standard CSV CSV for import into
other system
Hidden or Unpublished Materials Are not included in Overall or Grading Period grade calculations. Are included in Overall or Grading Period grade calculations.
Factors Items with a factor are multiplied by that factor and then included in the final score. Items with a factor are not multiplied by that factor before being included in the final score.
Weighted Categories Do impact grade calculations. Do not impact grade calculations.

Be sure to consider these variables when deciding the file format to download.

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