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ORCA

 

TEXAS A&M’S COURSE MANAGEMENT PORTAL


ORCA is a self-service tool that instructors and Academic Liaisons can use to merge course sections, add course associate roles, and request duplicate sections in Canvas. Academic Liaisons also have the ability to request and manage Communities through ORCA.

Watch our ORCA playlist to familiarize yourself with ORCA.
 
 
ORCA Login      
 


MANAGE COURSE SECTIONS IN ORCA

 
 



Merge Course Sections in ORCA


ORCA can request duplicate sections and merge sections of Live Shells. ORCA will create the merged course that will appear in Canvas per the instructor’s request.

 


 
 



Add Course Associate Roles in ORCA


Course Course Associate Roles can be Added Two Ways: via Compass and ORCA. Course Associate Roles require FERPA and Information Security Awareness training. 

 

 



Request Duplicates in ORCA
  



These courses are meant to be used for sections that need two sets of content. We recommend requesting your duplicate sections (if needed) prior to merging courses.

 

 



Request Incomplete Sections in ORCA 


Instructors of Record have the ability to request Incomplete sections for students that need to resolve an incomplete in Canvas.


 

*Due to the high volume in use of ORCA, for updates to course combinations, enrollments, duplicate sections, and Community updates, please allow up to 24 hours for those changes to be reflected in Canvas. If after 24 hours the update is not reflected in Canvas, please contact the Office for Academic Innovation.
 

MERGE SECTIONS OF CANVAS COURSE IN ORCA


This section includes guidance for how to merge sections in ORCA depending on the course type: stacked course with the same instructor, stacked course with different instructors from same department, or cross-listed course. Refer to TAMU’s course definitions for further information regarding the types of courses available.

 

Factors

Candidate to Merge

Candidate not to Merge

Content If the content is the same in multiple course sections, then consider combining the course sections.

Consider other course elements before making a final decision.
If content will differ between sections, such as if one section needs access to specific modules only, then consider keeping the course sections separate and instead move over content that applies to both. 

Consider other course elements before making a final decision.
Assessment The gradebook in Canvas is designed to have one course grading system (points, assignment weights, groups, etc.). If the course is set up with one grade system, consider combining the course sections. Exams and Assignments: Consider keeping the course sections separate if any assessments are delivered differently to sections (i.e. Honors section receives different assignments).

Groups: If students need to be in groups with students in the same section, keeping the course sections separate, especially if there are multiple sections in a large enrollment course. 

Discussions: If discussions need to be done by section, keeping the course sections separate may be better.
Grading The gradebook in Canvas is designed to have one course grading system (points, assignment weights, groups, etc.). If the course is set up with one grade system, consider combining the course sections. Merging course sections with different grading systems (points, assignment weights, groups, etc.), may result in additional work.* If the course sections are set up with different grading systems, consider keeping the course sections separate.
Course Roles Instructors: In stacked or cross-listed courses, it’s important to consider how all instructors of the course plan on teaching or using Canvas. Considering the role each instructor plays in the course delivery can impact if the courses should be combined. If Instructors all share the sections equally, then consider combining the course sections.

Teaching Assistants: It’s important to consider how Teaching Assistants will interact with each other and students. This is especially important in large courses with course duplicates when determining which set of courses should be combined. If Teaching Assistants should have access to all sections of a course, then consider combining the course sections.
Instructors: In stacked or cross-listed courses, it’s important to consider how all instructors of the course plan on teaching or using Canvas. Considering the role each instructor plays in the course delivery can impact if the course should be combined. If Instructors play different roles in the sections that require limiting access, then consider keeping the course sections separate

Teaching Assistants: It’s important to consider how Teaching Assistants will interact with each other and students. If Teaching Assistants should have limited access to specific sections of a course, then consider keeping the course sections separate.
Publishing and Student Data After a course has been published, Instructors of Record will not be able to combine a course through the self-serivice feature in ORCA. If a course has not yet been published, consider combining the course sections. If the course is published, it may still be possible for the Office of Academic Innovation to complete the request depending on if there are any student interactions as a course cannot be combined at this point. If the course sections were to be combined, the data would be lost and could not be recovered. If the course is published AND student interactions are recorded, course sections will not be combined.





Instructors can merge course sections using ORCA to create the combined course that will appear in Canvas. 

Course Instructors of Record can use ORCA to merge sections by the deadline identified on the Course Availability in Canvas table. After this deadline, route your requests by contacting the Office for Academic Innovation.  Courses will not be merged past the absolute course merge end date due to the possible loss of student interactions.  

 

There are two deadlines associated with each term: The first is the last date that Instructors of Record can combine sections using the self-service option in ORCA. The second date is the final date that the Office for Academic Innovation can accept requests to merge course sections ahead of a given term. 
 
When course sections are merged after students interact with a course, those interactions are lost and cannot be recovered. For this reason, we will not merge courses after the second deadline, which will always fall before the start of the term to ensure student data is not lost. We appreciate your understanding of why we need to maintain this sequence of dates, and we can support your merge request needs ahead of the start of the term. 
 


 

ADD COURSE ASSOCIATE ROLES TO A CANVAS COURSE


Course Associate Roles can be added to Canvas courses through ORCA. For a list of course associate roles available at Texas A&M and their permissions, please visit the Course Associate Roles page.

If the user to be enrolled is NOT employed through TAMU, refer to the Procedures for Non-Employee Training in TrainTraq section for additional guidance. 

Please see our Texas A&M Course Role Definitions section for further details on these roles.


Procedures for Non-Employee Training in TrainTraq 


Course associate roles in Canvas require successful completion of FERPA and Information Security Awareness. This training is obtained via TrainTraq for individuals employed with TAMU. In some cases, the need may arise to enroll an affiliate not employed with TAMU in a course. Examples may include contractors assisting with course design and undergraduate teaching assistants. 
 
Since these individuals are not employed by TAMU and do not have access to TrainTraq, non-employees must complete the required TrainTraq courses through an external site and the certification of training must be submitted back to the individual requesting for the user to be enrolled in a course. 
 
The following guidelines can be referenced to identify the responsibilities of the requestor and non-employee and step-by-step instructions for how to fill out the required documentation for enrollment. 

Procedures for Non-Employee Training in TrainTraq PDF

 

Non-Employee TrainTraq Procedures

Watch the Non-employee TrainTraq Procedures video (4:10) for step-by-step instructions. 
 
 
  

REQUEST DUPLICATES IN ORCA


ORCA has the ability to create duplicate sections of Live Shells. These courses are meant to be used for sections that need two sets of content. Grades cannot be imported from a duplicate section to Howdy. We recommend requesting your duplicate sections (if needed) prior to merging courses.

ORCA also has the ability to limit enrollments to Duplicate sections. This functionality will allow Instructors to choose if they would like the requested used to be enrolled in only the original, duplicate, or both. Enrollments processed through Compass cannot be modified in ORCA. It is recommended for all duplicate section enrollments to be managed through ORCA.

Example: a combined course with multiple sections and a duplicate course is needed for only lab or section-specific content.



REQUEST INCOMPLETE SECTIONS IN ORCA


There are two methods for resolving an incomplete: outside of the LMS, and inside of the LMS. If the Instructor opts to resolve the incomplete in Canvas, Instructors of Record for a course have the ability to request an incomplete section in Canvas through ORCA. In order to use ORCA to create the incomplete (INC) section, the Instructor of Record (IOR) for the course the student originally was enrolled in will need to complete this process. If the IOR is not the instructor assigned to resolve the incomplete with this student, please email the Office for Academic Innovation for next steps.



 

REQUEST COMMUNITIES IN ORCA


Overview of Communities
Communities are non-academic course shells in Canvas designed for activities that fall outside of academic courses, yet that still align with teaching and learning mission at TAMU. Communities are not associated with course sections maintained by the Office of the Registrar and do not have a connection to Compass, so the process for managing enrollments will be carried out through ORCA. Communities should be used within the scope of the typology selected. Please note that grades associated with a Community are not considered official academic grades as determined by the Office of the Registrar and cannot be uploaded to Howdy. 


What are the Alternatives to Communities?

If your organization or use case is outside of the scope of current typologies, you should consider the following options:
  • One Drive: To store and/or share files with participants
  • Google Drive: To store and/or share files with participants
  • Microsoft Teams: To share files, interact and collaborate with members


Community Typologies

Five typologies have been identified based on the most common use cases for non-academic courses at TAMU.

 

Orientation (CORT)

Academic Augment (CAAG)

Placement Exams (PEXM)

Faculty Training (FACT)

Certifications (CERT)

Orientation Communities are used to deliver orientation materials to TAMU participants. Enrollments may be organized into groups or Community sections, if needed. The Orientation Community will only be visible for the length of time needed to complete the orientation. New Orientation Communities can be created as needed or Community sections may be leveraged to reuse current content.  Academic Augment Communities are used to deliver additional program content to students. Enrollments may be organized into groups or Community sections, if needed. Academic Augment Communities are available to be used across individual terms or can span multiple terms.
Note: Academic Augment Communities are not to be used for grades tied to an academic course or for academic course credit.
Placement Exams Communities are used to for students to complete exams before placing them in a program or testing out of a course or program. Enrollments are pre-determined by academic programs based on the need of the program. Placement Exam Communities are available to be used across individual terms or can span multiple terms.  Faculty Training Communities are used to deliver faculty training. Faculty may be organized in a cohort and/or individually enrolled to complete training independently of others. Enrollments may be organized into groups or Community sections, if needed. Faculty Training Communities are available to be used across individual terms or can span multiple terms.  Certification Communities are used for student certifications for non-academic credit. Enrollments may be organized into groups or Community sections, if needed. Certification Communities are available to be used across individual terms or can span multiple terms. 
 

How to Request a Canvas Community

Community requests will route through Academic Liaisons, who are individuals associated with a School, College, or Branch campus. Academic Liaisons can submit a request for a Community via ORCA. Academic Liaisons will log into ORCA and fill out a request form that will route through an approval process. Once the request is approved, the requested Community will be created in Canvas. 

Note: If your unit does not have an associated Academic Liaison, please contact the Office for Academic Innovation to request a Community. 

Community Section and Enrollment Management

Sections and enrollments can be added or removed through ORCA to help manage access to Canvas Communities

Please Note: At this time, Academic Liaisons have access in ORCA to manage Community enrollments. If your department does not have an Academic Liaison and you are listed as the Person Responsible for the Community, please contact the Office for Academic Innovation for assistance.

 

ORCA FAQ