Combined Course Shell Q&A

1. How can I get a combined course shell?

Email or call the IT Help Desk and provide a list of two or more course (event package) numbers (all EPNs must be for courses offered during the same semester), semester information, the course designator (i.e. ACC201) and your global ID.

2. How long will it take to set up my combined shell?

Upon receiving the required information, the Help Desk technician makes an entry into the system's update process. Once the course combine request has been handled by a Help Desk technician, the course will be created at 8pm the same day (or at 8pm the following day depending on when the information was processed). Usually, one to two business days notice is all that is required for a combined course shell to be set up.

3. Is there a specific time window in which to request a combined shell?

Yes. Combined shells for the current academic term can be created at any time up until the last month of the term. Combined shells for the next academic term cannot be created any earlier than the last month of the preceding academic term

4. How will I know when my combined shell has been created?

A new course will be listed on your "My Courses" list under the "courses you are teaching" heading. The course reference number will begin with a letter (e.g. M3671460) to differentiate it from individual course shells.

5. Why would I want a combined shell?

A combined course shell will allow you to send a single email message to all students enrolled in multiple sections of a given course. Having a single shell for student access can save you the time and trouble of posting the same documents in multiple locations. Having the students together may also afford them the opportunity for increased interaction with one another and a greater sense of community as a result.

6. What happens to the individual course shells if a combined shell is set up?

The "child" shells - those included in the merged shell - remain accessible to the instructor, but content can no longer be created in them.

7. If I post documents in the combined shell, are they visible in the individual shells?

No. Documents posted in the combined shell would only be visible in the combined shell. Items posted in the combine shell are not automatically copied into the individual shells, just as items posted in individual shells will not be copied over to the combined shell.

8. How can I get information from a previous course shell into my new combined course shell?

Materials from previous courses can be copied using the "copy course" function in the control panel of the course which contains the material. The course ID for your combined shell will be needed. All course IDs are in the form of coursedesignator-semesternumber-coursereferencenumber. For example, a fall, 2018 section of BIS300 might carry an ID of BIS300-19300-12345678.

9. What happens if a student adds or drops my course when I use a combined shell?

Combined course shells enrollments update daily, just as all other course shells will. A student who adds (or drops) will gain (or lose) access to the combined shell during the following morning's update.

10. Is there a way to sort the students in the combined course shell according to section?

While many instructors choose, for simplicity's sake, to maintain separate grade books in the individual course shells, a straightforward workaround for sorting students by section number does exist. In the combined course shell's grade book, add a column named "section" with a value of zero (0) points and a "Display As" value of "Text." Enter an eight-digit event number for each student. After all section numbers are entered, sort the grade book by the section column, instantly grouping students by section number.

11.What can be done if, after the combined shell is added, another section needs to be included or a previously included section has to be removed?

Adding or removing sections from a combined course is a very simple process.  To request the addition or removal of a course section or sections from an existing combined course shell, call the IT Helpdesk and make the request.  The technician will need the section number of the combined course shell as well as the section number(s) for any sections to be added or removed.  Keep in mind that any work performed or records posted for students within a combined shell will also be removed when their respective course section is removed.

12. Can I request a combined shell if I'm teaching multiple sections of the same course in an online format?

Combined course shells may be created for online course sections just as they are with face-to-face courses. After requesting one, however, the CMU Online staff requests that you inform them of this, providing them with the appropriate combined course ID (M3671460). This ID will appear in the shell once it is listed in Blackboard.​​​​​