Cobra Learning - Merging Courses (2018 edition)

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Merging Courses

What is merging?

By default, Cobra courses are built as individual sections; if you teach three sections of a course, you get three Cobra shells.  Some instructors prefer to deliver their course materials for their sections of a particular course each semester in a single shell.  This is called merging.  When a course is merged, one set of content is presented to all of the involved sections of students.  Student rosters are also combined.

Should I merge my course?

Merged courses are most appropriate for instructors who use Cobra to deliver static content -- readings, presentations, and announcements.  This is especially true of courses that are continually updated throughout the semester.  The combined rosters of a merged course make the delivery of interactive, graded content more challenging, as it becomes more difficult to separate submissions between sections.  Merging should never be done after students gain access to a course.  Any student activity is lost if a merge occurs after students begin interacting with a course.

Requesting a merge

Starting with Spring 2018, we have a new process for merging courses.  There are two options:

  1. Auto-merge
  2. Manual merge

Both processes are done by PDIT, so you need to contact them to request the merging of your courses.  

Note: course assignment changes can impact merged courses, though; so consider whether you're likely to be reassigned before requesting to merge your courses.


Auto-Merge

With the auto-merge process, the merged course will be created as soon as assignments are made in Colleague.  
Courses are merged based on:

  • Instruction Method (Campus, Hybrid, Online)
  • Instructor Assignment (Parkland ID number)

Note: section numbers are NOT considered in this process, so if your section numbers change each semester it won't impact the merging process. Additionally, you cannot merge different instruction methods, i.e. campus sections cannot be merged with online sections.


For example, Professor X is assigned to teach ENG 101 001, ENG 101 004, ENG 101 052W, and ENG 101 053W.  Professor X has requested that we merge all of their ENG 101 courses.  The merging process will create the following courses for Professor X:

ENG 101 [Campus], Spring 2018 -- which includes section 001 and 004
ENG 101 [Online], Spring 2018 -- which includes section 052W and 053W

If section 004 is reassigned to another instructor, the merging process will retain the ENG 101 [All], Spring 2018 merged course shell but will unenroll the section 004 students from the roster.  So, there will be no need to alter the course shell or content to adapt to schedule or cancellation changes. 

Likewise if section 007 is added.  No need to change the merged course shell, it will simply add the students from the 007 section to the roster of the merged course.

To be added to the auto-merge process, please send an email to CobraLearning@parkland.edu with the following information:

  • your name
  • Parkland ID number
  • courses (not sections) that you want merged
  • Choice of Normal merge (individual sections disabled) or an Expanded merge (individual sections enabled)
  • Custom name, if desired (if none provided, the naming convention in the example above will apply)
  • Instruction method (NOTE: Health Professions -- you need to identify if this will be assigned as clinical, discussion/lecture, etc.  Check with your department office to know how it will be entered. Failure to include this could delay the merging of your courses).

Manual Merge

Manual merge will require that you contact PDIT at the start of each semester to request that they merge your courses.  You may  request this if you are assigned new courses that you've never taught before or if you are unsure that you'll be teaching the same courses each semester.  (Although, the auto-merge process will recognize if you've been assigned those courses in each semester).

Manual Merge Request Deadline

It will still be imperative for manual merge requests to be submitted by the Thursday before the course starts (prior to students gaining access to the course in Cobra).  This is to ensure that 1) the merge occurs on Friday; and 2) students are not confused by changes to their list of courses based on the merging process.  NOTE: You maybe send your request as early as Monday of that week, but the actual merge may not occur until the run on Friday. 

If you want to request your courses merged each semester, then send an email to CobraLearning@parkland.edu by the deadline above with the following information:
  • your name
  • courses including sections that you want merged
  • Choice of Normal merge (individual sections disabled) or an Expanded merge (individual sections enabled)

What to expect following your request

Merging is not a same-day process.  It must be manually queued (unless you are set to auto-merge) and is typically processed on Sundays.  NOTE: during the week prior to the start of a new semester, the process may be run daily.  As such, please allow several days for your merged course to become available.  If you need to build your course in advance of the merge, then you may do so in one of the individual sections or a master course.  But note the "merged shells are created empty" caveat below.

The end result

Once the merge is complete, students will see only the final merged course (unless you have chosen an expanded merge option).  Instructors, however, will see both the individual sections and the merged shell.  The individual sections will be set to "inactive" but may continue to show up in your My Courses listing.  Note that the merged shells are created empty.  Even if one or more of your individual sections contains content, this will NOT be copied over into the merged course.  You will need to follow the normal process to copy content into your merged shell from a previous course, a master course, or the individual section.

Drawbacks to Merging

  • Merging can be confusing to students expecting to see a certain section and instead see a merged section.  So, identifying this to your students in advance will be helpful and cut down on calls and emails.
  • Merged course rosters can be cumbersome when entering mid-term and final grades as the rosters in Webadvisor are based on the individual sections and not the merged course.
  • Merging requires advance notice in order to be done before students gain access to the course.  Requests to merge after this period must be approved by the department chair and dean.
  • Auto-merging creates a merged shell whether you are assigned one section or three.  It cannot distinguish when you are assigned only one versus multiple sections, so you'll get a merged shell even if you are only assigned one section of your requested auto-merged course. 


Tech Service Desk: Contact and Hours

Room A184 * 217-353-3333 * techhelp@parkland.edu * 7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. M-Th. / 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Fridays

Satellite location * Parkland Library * 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. M-Th. / 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Fridays




Keywords:merging, merge, combine, Cobra   Doc ID:79443
Owner:Lori W.Group:Parkland College
Created:2018-01-18 12:24 CDTUpdated:2018-08-27 15:51 CDT
Sites:Parkland College
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