Note: Using Sections in Canvas

Assignments, Canvas, Communications overview, Cross Listing, How to, LMS, Resources, Roles & Responsibilities Leave a Comment

What are Sections?

Sections are an administrative tool that separates students into different sets based on the needs of your teaching. At RMIT, sections are being created for class sets (tutorial classes, studios) based on data entered into SAMS. If you have multiple classes or studios your course will come already populated with sections.

You can see what sections already exist in your course by going to Settings, and selecting the Sections tab.

What you can do with them:

  • assign different settings such as assignment and discussion dates to different sections. 
  • filter the gradebook view by section
  • limit tutor interaction to a particular section or sections.
  • limit students’ view to only students in their own section.
  • send a message to a whole section via the inbox  

See the Further help tab below for instructions on each of these functions.

What you can’t do with them:

  • provide different content to different sets of students.
  • provide student group functionality. They are not the same as student groups. 

How are they different from Groups?

The purpose of Groups in Canvas is to provide students with a collaborative space to work together. For more information about Groups, see the How to: Create groups resource.
Sections provide more fine-grained control of administrative functions without needing to create a group just for that function.

You are also able to:

  1. request manually created sections should you need them for other reasons.
  2. request that sections be crosslisted into another course.

See the Usage tips tab below for use cases and instructions for requesting these options.

With respect to the gradebook view, Sections in Canvas provide a similar function to that of Smart Views in the Blackboard gradecenter.


  • If you teach the same course in two different locations (Brunswick and Bundoora, for example) you can request that the sections be crosslisted into a single course so you only have to run one Canvas site.
  • If you are teaching a large fully online course that do not have physical class sets but which needs the cohort divided up into smaller groups for tutors to manage, you can request that sections be manually created.

If the provisioned Sections don’t meet your needs and you need to request one of these two options please submit a request to ITS.


No students are appearing in my course

Regular course, not linked to any other

If your course has been passed through QA more than 48 hours ago, and its NOT a crosslisted course, contact Project Rewire

If it is a crosslisted course

Check the other course that it should be linked to. You should have at least 2 sections of students appearing, one for every course that is linked. This will appear in Settings > Sections and will also be noted in People next to the student’s name. The course you should be using is the one with students enrolled. If there are no students in that course either, contact Project Rewire

What are the different Sections that I can see in vertically integrated courses or studios?

In vertically integrated studios, students are added to Canvas courses in Sections that indicate (1) the course in which they originally enrolled, and (2) the studio they are doing. This information is imported from (1) SAMS and (2) a spreadsheet that is provided by the course coordinator.
For more information about Sections, see Note: using Sections in Canvas.

Can I send an announcement to just one section of students?

Currently, No. However, you can send a message to all students in a section.
To do that:

  1. In the Global navigation menu, click Inbox
  2. From the All Courses dropdown menu, select the correct course.
  3. Click the Compose a new message feather icon
  4. Click the address book icon
  5. Click the Course sections link
  6. Select the desired section
  7. Type your message below the line
  8. Click send

How do I filter the gradebook by section?

By default, your course shows all active students. If your course includes more than one section, you can filter your Gradebook by section [1]. You can also search for a student by name or secondary ID [2].


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