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In order to facilitate breaking down data, such as Announcements or restricting discussion forums to particular subset of participants in a site, the concept of Sections (or Groups) was added and is available in both course and project sites.

Not all tools are Group/Section aware!


Sections: Overview

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Permissions and Roles

To complete the procedures in this article, you must be assigned a role having the necessary permissions. This often excludes Students and TAs by default. To determine your role and accompanying permissions, follow the directions in Permissions and Roles.

What it does

The Sections tool provides a way for instructors to efficiently manage sections of a class. (In the Sections tool, “sections” does not refer to sections of a course as the University uses the term. To CLEW, “sections” means “groups”). The tool is designed to help an instructor manage a course that may consist of lectures, labs, discussions, studio work, recitations, or any combination thereof. TAs can also be assigned to these groups.

The Sections tool is designed to work with other group aware tools, such as Announcements, Gradebook, Forums, Discussions, Calendar, Resources and Assignments. Once you’ve created groups with the Sections tool, you can then post announcements, resources, and assignments for specific groups, and restrict discussion forums to particular groups of students.

The second CLEW grouping tool, Site Editor, Manage Groups allows a student to be placed in more than one group at a time.

Key concepts

Sections: This tool allows you to create mutually exclusive sections in a course site.

Information you may add about a section includes days, time, assigned teaching assistant, room, current enrollment, available slots, maximum enrollment, and the section category.


Groups function much like Sections.

However, groups are managed through the Site Editor tool using the Manage Groups link, and they do not have the associated metadata (or information about the group) that a Section may have. Groups are never preloaded with official course data and must be created after the site has been populated. Participants can be in more than one group at a time using the Manage Groups tool.

Getting Started with Sections

To get started, click Sections in the left-hand tool menu. If you don’t see it in the menu, you will need to add it to your site using the Site Editor tool

Add (Create) a Section

Add Section
Add Section

You need to create a section first and then add the students/participants to the section. You may create up to ten sections (groups) at a time. However, when adding more than one section at a time, all of the sections must be in the same category. You may complete the following steps repeatedly to create an unlimited number of sections.

  1. On the Sections home page, click Add Sections in the Sections menu bar.
  2. From the drop-down menu, select the number of sections you want to add.
  3. From the - choose one - drop down list, select the category of your sections. Choose from several options for the type of section you wish to add. Section categories include Lecture, Discussion, Lab, Studio, Tutorial and Recitation.
    • Note: A category is simply a label and each section (group) functions exactly the same way no matter what category you choose. Student membership is mutually exclusive within any given category (for example: Student A can only be in one Lecture section and in only one Discussion section.)
  4. The default Name of the section is the category name plus a number. You may change this by entering a new or more meaningful name in the text box.
  5. If you will be limiting the number of students allowed within each group, select the Limit number of students in section to by clicking in the radio button to the left and enter the appropriate number in the text box to the right. If you are not limiting the number in each group, leave Unlimited number of students in section selected.
  6. (optional) If this group meets at a regular day and time, (for example: a weekly lab period only a portion of your students attend) you may choose to enter the Meeting Details:
    • Select the day(s) of the week the group meets
    • In the From box, enter the time this section meets. Enter the time in the format hour:minutes and then select AM or PM. Enter the ending time in the same way in the To box.
    • In the in Location text box, enter a short (maximum 20 characters) location identifier for where the section meets.
  7. (optional) To specify additional meeting times and places for this section, click the Add day(s) with a different meeting time and/or location link and enter the Meetings Details as in the step above for this second meeting time and/or place. Repeat this step as many times as needed.
  8. If you have chosen to add more than one section at a time, enter information for the other sections.
  9. Click Add Sections to complete adding the section(s) or click Cancel to exit without creating the section(s). You will be returned to the Sections home page. You will see a confirmation message on the home page if you clicked Add Sections.

NEW292.jpg Optional: Under Options, you are now able to select a date when the Sections tool is open for student viewing. This hides information from the site participants until the release date that you have selected arrives.

 how to select an "open for viewing" date

Teaching Assistants (TAs)

Assign TAs
Assign TAs

In a course site, you may assign TAs to each section. You assign a site participant the role of teaching assistant through Site Editor.

Assign a Teaching Assistant (TA) to a Section

By default, the Instructor of a course site can participate as a member in all sections. TAs cannot. Someone with the role of TA can only view all material and participate on the site as a student does until you assign the TA a section. You can assign a TA to one, multiple, or all sections but you will need to do so one section at a time. A section can have multiple TAs.

Note: A teaching assistant may only edit information for students in the section to which the assistant is assigned.

To assign a TA to a section:

  1. On the Sections home page, choose the section to which you want to assign a TA and click the Assign TAs link under the section’s name.
  2. Click on a TA’s name in the list on the left. If you want to assign more than one at a time, hold the CTRL or

The command key, located beside the space bar on an Apple Inc. keyboard.  Often used as the equivalent to the Window's "ctrl" key. Apple key down as you click on other names.

  1. Click the arrow button directly below Move Selected. The selected name(s) will move to the box on the right.
  2. (optional) To add all the TAs in the left list to this section, click the double arrow button directly below Move All. All the names will move to the box on the right.
  3. Click Assign TAs to finish assigning these TAs and receive a confirmation on the Sections home page or click Cancel to exit without assigning TAs.
  4. Complete the above steps for each section to which you want to assign this TA(s).

Edit a Section

  1. On the Sections home page, find the section you want to edit and click the Edit link beneath the section’s name.
  2. Make the desired changes.
  3. Click Update to save your changes or click Cancel to exit without saving.

Delete a Section

  1. On the Sections home page, find the section you want to delete and click the check box to the left of it. If you do not see the boxes, you may need to go to the bottom of the screen and use the scroll bar to scroll to the right.
  2. Click Remove Sections to delete the section(s) or Cancel to clear all check marks. If you click Remove Sections you will see a confirmation screen.
  3. Click Remove to finish deleting and receive a confirmation on the Sections home page or Cancel to exit without deleting.

Change Student Options

By default, students may sign up for sections themselves but cannot switch once they have selected or you have assigned them sections. If you want to assign students to sections and not allow students to sign up for themselves, follow the steps below. You may also allow your students to be able to switch between sections themselves.

Note: You cannot allow some students or sections of students to be able to sign up and/or switch and not others; the option applies to all students and sections.

NEW292.jpg Students will not see names of other students. A student will only see that a section is available to join, how many spaces are left in each section, and some section information (such as their TA's, date, time, etc.).

 visible information to the students

Note: Students will not see names of other students. A student will only see that a section is available to switch to and how many spaces are left in each section.

Move Students From One Section to Another

If you want your students to be able to select or switch between sections, see Change Student Options.

Brief Summary of Tools That Can Use Sections

Forums or Discussions can be grouped using Sections

Both the Forums and Discussions tools, while sounding the same, have some differences. These tools can be set up to restrict dialogue to specific members of a section. Details on how to do this is found within the specific tool pages. Care must be taken to enable the correct permissions in these tools.

Use Sections in Announcements

You may set an announcement to be viewable only by a specific section. When you create a new announcement, choose from the drop-down menu which section should see the announcement.

Create an Entry in Calendar

Display to selected groups calendar option
Display to selected groups calendar option

When selecting the display to options for a Calendar entry, select the designated group you wish to be able to view the event.

View Gradebook or an Assignment by Sections

View Gradebook Item by Sections
View Gradebook Item by Sections

To view the Gradebook by section, choose from the drop-down menu the section you wish to view. This drop down view is also available in Assignments to view an assignment by your site's sections. GA/TAs can view their assigned section but still can grade those not assigned in their group, so careful attention must be given to avoid problems.

Considerations with Sections

Note GA/TAs may see Assignment submissions by group, but they are not restricted from grading those who haven't been assigned to them in the Sections tool. Care must be taken to not miss or duplicate grading.

Groups are very similar to Sections, but differ in some key ways. For more information, see Difference between sections and groups.

A section may have any number of assigned teaching assistants.

You have the option to allow students to switch or sign up for sections.

A participant may not be a member of more than one section in a given category.

Related Articles

This article is based on the equivalent Sakai help article created by Indiana University found at:
Additional sources of content include Brock University's Sakai / Isaak Wiki and the University of Florida Sakai / e-Learning Documentation with thanks and appreciation for the collaboration.

All respective sources used are under a free-for-reuse license and additional permission has been obtained.

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Other articles about Sakai tools and how instructors can use them:

Core Tools: Announcements | Assignments | Email | Forums | Gradebook | Quizzes & Tests II | Resources | Site Editor | Syllabus

More Tools: Polls | Chat | Drop Box | Home | Discussions | News | Feedback | Sections | Lessons | Site Stats | Web Content | Wiki

Related articles: How to add tools to CLEW | Using the Text Editor | Manage Groups | Permissions and Roles | Contact the CTL for help

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