Merging Courses in Blackboard


Information about course merging including what it is and pros and cons of merging course sites in Blackboard.


When to Use?

Determining if you want to merge course sites in Blackboard for multiple course sections.


What is Course Merging?

Multiple course sections can be merged to create a single course site in Blackboard. After merging the courses, a new Blackboard site is created containing the enrollments from the separate sections. The newly combined site that includes all student enrollments is called a "parent" course, and the sections that have been merged are called "child" courses. Child courses are made unavailable to students.

Please note:  students still see the course name and course ID of the section they are enrolled in for merged course sites.    They do not see the merged course name or ID.

An Instructor view of the merged course site:

instructor view of merged course site in Courses

A student enrolled in section 01 of the merged site:

Student view of merged course in Courses area


Requesting a Course Merge

To submit a request to have your courses merged, please complete the Blackboard Course Merge Request Form

Please Note: Requests to merge course sites should be made as early as possible and done before posting any assignments, grades, or materials to your courses.


Drawbacks - Reasons to Keep Course Section Separate

  • Large Grade books can create complexity – In recent surveys, students indicate a strong desire for more grade information to be available in Blackboard. If a course is merged, students from all merged sections will be listed in the gradebook, making navigating the it more complex and challenging. Filtering by child course ID is possible in the gradebook. 
  • Managing Due Dates may not be Possible – One of the best ways to assist students in managing their course work and assignments across all of the courses they are enrolled in is for instructors to apply due dates to assignments, tests, and other graded activities. When due dates are used, reminders are automatically posted to students in Blackboard, and also push notifications are available to students using the Blackboard mobile app, reminding them of deadlines. If sections have different due dates, using this feature is not possible, which can create frustration for students.
  • Navigating Discussion Boards can be Challenging – For courses that are merged, navigating large discussion boards can be complex and challenging due to the large number of students participating. In large merged courses, faculty may consider using small groups and the group discussion board tool.  You can also use the group’s email function to email specific student segments.
  • Communicating with Specific Sections can be Challenging – In a combined course, any announcements you make will be sent to all students. This can make it challenging to use this basic Blackboard feature to communicate with specific sections. An announcement following up on one particular class session or communicating due date changes to one particular section will be seen by all students, leading to possible confusion. In merged courses, if small groups have been set up for each section, the Blackboard group email function can be used to target message students.
  • Managing Unique Content for each Section can be more Complex – If your site has multiple items with unique information (such as due dates, class cancellations, or other particulars) that should only be seen by one section, instructors may need to make multiple copies of items, use separate folders, or use advanced Blackboard features such as release conditions to help separate the content delivery.
  • Exiting a Merged Course with Grades can create Concern – Merged Blackboard courses can not be separated once course work has been submitted.  All course work, student assignment submissions, and grades will not follow back to the original un-merged course.


Benefits - The Value of Course Merges

  • One Site to Post Content - Some instructors prefer to combine multiple sections into a single merged Blackboard course for which to post content. Course materials need only be posted once for all enrolled students to see, rather than posting to each separate course site.   For a course that is mainly focused as a way to deliver content, or as file repository, merging works very well.  As a general rule, GVSU's Online Education Council recommends online and hybrid class sizes of 20 - 30 students to ensure effective student-to-faculty contact and to provide high-touch and a personalized learner experience.


Policy Items to Note

Recording of Courses Notice - The Office of the Provost provides guidance for the recording of courses, including the following: "If students are part of any course-related recordings (voice and/or image), then a syllabus statement about the recording is required." It is good practice to inform students as the live session begins that the class session is being recorded.

FERPA Recording Content Form - Merged courses do not require consent if you record class meetings in Zoom and want to share these recordings across the merged sections. However, student consent is necessary if the recording is going to be shared with students in other sections. GVSU faculty and staff can obtain consent to record class meetings by using the FERPA Recording Consent Form (located on the Registrar’s webpage under Student Forms). If the recording is instructor-only (and doesn't contain any student information such as name, voice, image) then student consent is not necessary and those recordings can be used in multiple sections.



Article ID: 5639
Thu 5/5/22 1:52 PM
Mon 8/28/23 10:53 AM

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