How do Base and Derivative Courses work?

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Base Courses allow you to manage content for multiple courses in one, central location.

This diagram illustrates the basic relationships between a Base Course and the various types of copies you can create from it.

  1. Base Course: Base Courses should be used for content creation and management, and can't be used as live courses (students can not be enrolled in Base Courses). You can turn any standalone course without enrollments into a Base Course by simply making a Derivative copy of it (the different Derivative course types are described below). Once you create a Derivative Course, you no longer have access to any enrollment data that happens to exist in the Base Course (gradebook, students, etc).
  2. Derivative Courses: All Derivative Courses begin as duplicates of the Base Course and inherit applicable data and changes made to the Base. Data that is related to teaching a specific class instance (e.g., Student Enrollments, Groups, Course Title, Start and End Dates, Agendas, Submissions, Posts) is not inherited.
    • Unlinking Derivative Course Elements: You can unlink Base Course inheritance in any single element (e.g., an activity, a folder, a question) of a Derivative Course by simply changing the desired element in the Derivative. Once unlinked, the Base Course no longer impacts that element; however, the rest of the Derivative Course remains linked and subject to changes in the Base.
    • Relinking Derivative Course Elements: You can relink inheritance in most elements of a Derivative Course by using Buzz's Re-sync tool. Changing assessment question creates a new ID, so that question cannot be easily relinked to the Base with the Re-sync tool.
    • Course settings > Publisher options: You can configure Publisher options for each course to help manage content syncing.
  3. Derivative Child Course: This exact copy of the Base inherits changes to the Base. This option works best when you are copying a course with only content and no students enrolled because, once a Derivative Child Copy is made, you can no longer access student enrollment information in the Base Course.
  4. Derivative Child Course (altered): This altered copy of the Base inherits changes to all unaltered elements of the Base.
  5. Derivative Sibling Course: This is an exact copy of an altered Derivative Child Course that continues to inherit changes to all unaltered elements of the Base. This option works best when you want to make a copy of an active course in which students are enrolled because, after making a Derivative Sibling Copy, you can still access the student enrollment information in the Base Course.
  6. Static Copy: This is an exact, but independent, copy of the Base; changes made to the Base have no impact on it after the copy is made.

Additional articles


  • Save time by setting up your Base and Derivative courses so you can copy between sections, terms, school years, etc.
  • When you open the Editor for a Derivative course, Buzz displays this prompt, so you are certain which course you are making edits to. It recommends you make edits to the Master course because those changes are automatically inherited by the Derivative course.

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