The last concept required to take advantage of Genius as an Administrator is the way in which Genius manages terms, courses and sections. Terms are associated with the division of the "academic year" at your organization, and they can be used to organize your organization's learning offerings in a way that is understandable and consistent - both of which are critical when it comes to managing a large teaching and learning initiative.
Courses and Sections, on the other hand, are used to define the way in which Genius will handle the enrollment process at your organization. In general, learners enroll into a Section, but you can have multiple Sections of the same Course. This means that sections inherit many properties from the parent structure (the course), while courses are a general 'umbrella' that you can use to streamline the reporting, dashboards and enrollment processes that are critical to Genius.
In this Article, we will explain the way terms, courses and sections work in Genius, what these mean, and how you can use them to make sense of your organization's learning opportunities.
Terms in Genius
The first concept you need to be aware of to take advantage of the powerful features offered by Genius to manage your learning initiative is the concept of terms. Terms are the way that Genius organizes time. Depending on the intensity of your organization's learning initiative, a term may be:
- a complete calendar year
- a semester in the year
- a quarter in the year
- or even multiple years!
Terms are important, because they allow you to distinguish the time period when a specific section is offered. When you set up your instance of Genius, you want to set terms to match the way in which your organization offers courses - by year, by semester or by quarter, for example.
Courses and Sections
The next important topic that is critical when it comes to using Genius to manage your organization's learning initiative is the concept of courses and sections. Courses and Sections are two related but also different concepts. Read on to learn more about the distinction between the two concepts and how you can use them to manage learning opportunities.
Courses in Genius are an "abstract" structure. When you create a course in Genius, Genius creates this course in your LMS and it also allows you to associate specific learning content with that specific course - a syllabus and specific assignments, for example:
However, it must be noted that learners do not enroll in courses. Learners enroll in sections. Therefore, a Course is an 'abstract' structure that you can use to create sections, reports and in general, follow-up on the progress, performance and engagement of your learners. By using courses, you also avoid having to create learning content over and over again, each time copying a a course when you want to offer a learning opportunity to a new cohort of learners.
Unlike courses, sections are not an 'abstract' structure, but instead, they are the instance of a course that learners actually enroll and complete their coursework in. Sections, however, are associated with courses - and they inherit many of the course's properties, including its title, any metadata associated with the course, and any course content you have created along with the course:
Think of a Course in Genius as a master template, and a Section as an offshoot from that template. Learners will actually complete and enroll in sections, which will inherit most of their properties from a course. Sections, however, are distinct learning opportunities. This means that Section A of Course X is not the same as Section B of Course X - allowing you to offer multiple instances of the same course in the same year or even in the same term.
Genius makes it possible for you to dig-down and run reports, create dashboards and in general, use the data gathered by the LMS at both the course and the section level. So, for example, if you have 3 sections of Introduction to Accounting, running reports at the course level allows you to get aggregated data for all 3 sections. You can also run reports at the Section level to understand how the learners under the supervision of a specific instructor are doing, for example.
The relationship between terms, courses and sections
Now that you know what terms, courses and sections are, it becomes possible to define the relationship between these three concepts:
- Terms allow you to define 'academic periods' in which learning opportunities are offered. Terms can be anything, ranging from years, to semesters, quarters, or even months.
- Courses allow you to create 'templates', complete with course content, that you can use to organize and classify your learning opportunities. Learners will not enroll into courses. As an Administrator, however, defining courses makes managing your learning initiative a lot easier.
- Sections are instances of a course offered in a specific term. Learners enroll into sections. It is possible to offer multiple sections of a course in the same term, or a single section in each term, but each section will be distinct from the others. This makes it possible for you to distinguish between each offering of a course, which can be important for reporting purposes.
How Courses and Sections Help
So far, we have described what terms, courses and sections are - but how do they actually help you, as an Administrator, to better manage your organization's learning initiative? The example below should provide a bit more clarity about this topic.
Suppose you are using Genius to manage a learning initiative comprised of a single course, Introduction to Accounting. When you create a course, you can associate specific learning content with that course - in this case, a syllabus and homework assignments, for example:
In order to allow learners to complete their coursework, you can create a section of this course. As we noted above, this section has to be associated with a term:
Learners will then begin to complete their courses and generate progress, performance and completion information at the section level:
Suppose that now, you update the content in the master Course, "Introduction to Accounting":
To deploy this new content, all you have to do is archive[LINK: course archiving] the previous section, and create a new section. This makes it impossible for learners to enroll in the old version of the sections, but still makes this data accessible for reporting and certification purposes - but learners who are still completing the current version can still access their course until the deadline.
Learners will now enroll and complete the new version of the course content that was just created. If you create new sections of the course, these new sections will also inherit the latest changes in the course.
As you can see, the course-section duo makes it possible for you to save time - changing the parent Course changes the children Sections - allowing you to save time and manage multiple sections by simply making changes at the Course level. The use of this 'inheritance' model is common throughout Genius - for example, with Affiliations and Departments - more about this soon.
To learn more...
With the concept of terms, courses and sections in mind, you can read more about how to create terms, courses and sections, or how to enroll learners into sections, either by using the tools provided by Genius or by setting up a course catalog that allows learners to browse through, learn about, pay for and register in the learning opportunities that interest them.