KB1288 - Working with multiple CRNs for the same course - DRAFT

This article is currently being developed and may be incomplete.

There are times when an instructor will be teaching the same course to multiple classes (or sections), each with their own CRNs. For example, the instructor may be teaching a Monday/Wednesday class, and a Tuesday/Thursday class. Or, maybe a morning and afternoon class. 

When the course content is nearly identical, it can be inconvenient (and confusing) to have to edit and maintain two or more course shells.

To better understand the following scenarios, you will need to know the following terms:

  • Shell - the Moodle "container" (sometimes incorrectly referred to as "page") that holds course content.
  • Shell ID - the unique number assigned to a Moodle shell when it is created. The number assignment is sequential, so you can not derive any information from it other than to get an idea of how recently it was created. This is the number that eLearning Support asks for when you submit any kind of Moodle support request.
  • CRN - stands for Course Reference Number and is how BANNER identifies different courses. The CRN is only unique within a term so there can be multiple instances of the same CRN year after year. However, that CRN isn't tied to a specific course. Therefore, a CRN of 70001 could be a Math course in September 2021 and a Nursing course in September 2022.
  • Resource - something that is meant for the students to look at, read, or watch. 
  • Activity - something that students DO. The activity may be (and often is) gradable.
  • Gradebook - a place where the grades from the activities are stored and organized, to be used in calculating a final course grade. These individual grades and resulting final course grade can be viewed by the students (User Report) and instructors (User Report and Grader Report). The Gradebook is NOT auto-magic and must be set up correctly in order to ensure that the final calculations are accurate.
  • Banner Auto-enrolment - students are automatically enrolled based on their registration in BANNER to the matched CRN
  • Self-enrolment - students are provided with an enrolment key by the instructor which is used as a one-time only password to enrol in the course
  • Manual enrolment - the instructor or designate manually enrols students into a course


All of the methods described here work well with all three methods of enrolment, but are most efficient when used with Banner Auto-enrolment.

Method 1 (easiest to understand, but requires more maintenance)

This image shows an example with 3 CRNs (classes/sections), 70001, 70002, and 70003, where each CRN has its own corresponding course shell (ids=10101, 10102, and 10103). All shells have 10 students enrolled and contain the same Resources and Activities. Each shell has its own Gradebook showing the grades for the 10 enrolled students.

Example usage of CRNs

Method 2 (less maintenance, but more complex to set up and manage)

One way to handle this, if the instructor would like to minimize the maintenance is to put all of the course content (resources and activities) in one shell and handle the enrolment in 3 enrolment shells. These enrolments shells can hold some resources, if the instructor wants, but there is no need for it. The shell can be used just for the enrolment of the 10 students and can even be HIDDEN from the students in that case. When using this method, because all of the activities are in a shared shell, the grades of all three classes are in the same gradebook. This can be easier to manage if each of the classes are grouped, so that the gradebook view can be filtered to show one class at a time. For more information, see Groups and Groupings.

Method 3 (somewhat less maintenance, but more complex to set up)

Another way to handle this, if the instructor would like to minimize the maintenance but keep the student gradebooks separate, is to put all of the course RESOURCES in one shared shell but keep the gradable activities in the 3 enrolment shells.  When using this method, groups are not necessary since only the resources are shared.

There is no right or wrong method to use. Which method is best would be up to the instructor to decide based on course content and their own level of comfort with Moodle.

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Article ID: 3798
Wed 6/15/22 8:57 AM
Wed 10/18/23 11:51 AM