Determining whether to combine your Canvas course sites

What is course combining?
Should I combine my courses?
I have a combination of face-to-face and online courses - should I combine? What to consider.
I have multiple lecture/lab/recitation sections, what should I combine and what should I not combine?
How do I combine my courses?

What is course combining?

One course shell is created in One Canvas for each course an instructor is assigned to in SIS (Joe'SS/myZou/PATHway/MyView). Many times two or more of these course shells may be for different sections of the same class.


  • CHEM-1100-101, CHEM-1100-102, CHEM-1100-103 (Three courses/sections of the same class with different enrollments)
  • ENG-1600-101 and TCH_COM-1600-101 (Two sections of the same course that are cross-listed)
  • MECH_ENG-1702-301, MECH_ENG-1702-302, MECH_ENG-1702-1A, MECH_ENG-1702-1B (Courses that have lectures and labs, sometimes with multiple sections of each)

Any or all of these distinct Canvas course shells can be merged into one Canvas course shell. This may be done to make the management of course content and assignments easier for the instructor.

The process of combining courses uses one of the sections as the parent course and then creates a child relationship for the other courses with that parent course. What the instructor and the students see as far as accessing the Canvas course and viewing the course content is one course, in other words that part of the combine is transparent to the instructor and students.

Before Combine

After Combine




CHEM-1100-combined (CHEM-1100-101)



Should I combine my courses?

This is a question only you as an instructor can answer. If all your course sections use the same Canvas content, combining may make your life easier. You will only have to add or change content for multiple classes in one Canvas course shell instead of many.

Things to consider when deciding to combine:

  • Are all sections covering the same content?
  • If they are lecture and lab sections, are they taught by the same instructor?
  • Are all the sections of my class graded?
  • >Is there a combination of face-to-face and online students?
  • Am I recording my lectures?

Remember there is no overall right or wrong answer to any of these questions. You need to decide what the correct answer is for you and for each of your courses. If you would like to discuss what may be best for you and your course, feel free to contact us at

I have a combination of face-to-face and online courses - should I combine? What to consider.

Do you want to allow your face-to-face students to view the recordings?

This is probably the most important question to answer before you decide to combine. If you record your face-to-face class lectures to allow your online students to connect either synchronously or asynchronously you will need to decide if you want your in person student to also review the recordings or only your online students.

There are benefits in allowing all your students to review lecture recordings, but this is a teaching philosophy and class management question. Only you, the instructor, can make this decision.

If you want to allow all students access to the recording and your face-to-face and online students are all covering the same content, you may want to combine the sections.

If all your students are covering the same content, but you don’t want your face-to-face students to see your recordings, you may still want to combine the content, but managing your recordings may be more time-consuming. Again, contact us at to discuss your options.

I have multiple lecture/lab/recitation sections, what should I combine and what should I not combine?

There are several questions you will need to consider before you decide whether or not to combine lecture, lab, and recitation sections.

Are there multiple teachers, especially for lab or recitation sections?

If there are multiple teachers many times it is best and easiest to not combine the sections even if they are teaching the same content. Managing the gradebook with multiple teachers can be unwieldy. In this case there may be better ways of managing shared content.

Which of the courses are marked in Joess as graded and which are not?

If there is only one instructor for the course and you want to combine any combination of lecture/lab/recitation to make your content and gradebook easier to manage, you will first need to check which of the sections are graded and which are not. This is to avoid problems when you import grades from Canvas into SIS at midterm and the end of the semester.

The graded section(s) of the course should be included in any configuration of course combination or grade import to SIS can be difficult.  Attempting to pull the content from a Canvas course that is non-graded in SIS is unsuccessful even though the grades are in the Canvas course. And if the sections that are marked as graded in SIS are not included in the Canvas course combine, they will not hold any of the course grades and Joess has nothing to pull in. You will then have to either export grades from one Canvas course and import to the other, or enter grades into SIS by hand. Neither of these are great options. Better to check before you combine and avoid the problem.

How do I know which of my courses are graded?

There is no consistent method for determining which type of courses are graded and which are not. This is determined by the department. The best way to discover which of your sections are graded is to check SIS.

  1. Log into SIS (Joe'SS/myZou/PATHway/MyView) 
  2. Go to the schedule of classes to search for a class
  3. Select the correct term
  4. Select the subject
  5. Enter the course number
  6. Search
  7. From the list of classes, select on one of the types (lecture/lab/recitation)
  8. If the section is graded it will be marked in SIS as graded, if it is not there will be no designation in SIS (See Figs. 1 & 2).
    image of a graded section of a course in SISFigure 1: Graded section of a course in SIS
    image of an ugraded section of a course in SIS
    Figure 2: Ungraded section of a course in SIS

How do I combine my courses? 

Combine your course sites using the Canvas Request System (CRS). View CRS help articles for further instructions.

You will need to decide:

  • Which course you want to be the parent course
  • Which the child course or courses
  • What you would like the new combined course to be named

Modified on: Tue, Jan 31, 2023 at 2:38 PM

Did you find it helpful?

Can't find the information you need?

Help us improve the site.