Upgrade cross listings to allow Ares to combine cross-listed courses and sections
Currently, when two course pages are generated by imported course and user data, instructors sometimes must add materials separately for each section. For example, for PHIL/RELI101, some students sign up for PHIL101 and others for RELI101. When this happens, the data generate PHIL101 as one course and RELI101 as a separate course, which means that the instructor must upload the materials for one listing and then for another. There is a similar issue with classes with multiple sections. It would be very convenient if the cross listing feature would set things up so that any action done in one connected class or section would automatically be done in a connected class or section.
Todd and Noah,
Yes, we want to "beef up" the cross-listing functionality in Ares. Adding the external ID is a good idea. We're still noodling over the best way to handle it all specifically.
Todd Miranda commented
We are also an institution that does not utilize the shared list function. Because item records are easily cloned between courses, utilizing a function to 'house' instructors’ items and then place them into separate courses is additional work.
From your response I gather that right now a CMS cannot see those alias cross-listed courses. Is it possible to beef up the cross-listing function? Would adding the External ID property to the cross-listed course information allow a CMS to find that cross-listed alias course? And does that mean if it is found that the course would be opened by that CMS?
Noah Savage commented
We are one of the institutions that disabled shared lists. Our goal with setting up Ares at UNC was to make everything as simple as possible, so that the web form could be used without instruction or training. Shared lists was initially accessible at our institution, but we found that the feature did not save instructors much extra time, and was additionally difficult to figure out.
To add some background, in order to minimize the amount of things that faculty need to memorize, we do not explain to instructors the problems that come up when the data generate separate pages for the same cross-listed course: instead, we run a query that tells which items were added by instructors the previous day. When we spot one that was added for a cross-listed class, we clone it behind the scenes. Fortunately, most classes are not cross-listed, so this is not that large an issue.
A related issue is the introductory classes that have a lot of different sections. If a class uses the same material for 30 different sections, we have to clone it 29 times. Again, this isn't a huge burden, but it would be more convenient to have a quick way of doing this.
I recently spoke with a librarian at another institution, who expressed his wishes this way (just found the E-mail): "1: the External ID and Registration ID fields support multiple items, That way many CMS courses could access the information in a single Ares course. And 2: the creation of a Merge Button that would essentially smash 2 or more course lists together."
Thanks for the info, Noah!
The way cross-listing works in Ares right now is basically that one course is the "real" one and the other is just an alias to find it. But that doesn't work very well for people who are accessing reserves from a course management system that knows which courses they have registered for. And like you said, it's possible for an instructor to have multiple sections of the same course (possibly with different names).
Would shared lists work for what you're experiencing? If the instructor made a shared list of the items applicable to the multiple sections and then applied it to the sections? We've found that sites aren't really using shared lists as much as we thought and we're not sure if it's because it doesn't do what they want and/or they aren't clear how to use it. :)