We’re still running with our Canvas blog-a-thon and up until now, we have covered different Canvas themes to include:

This week, we would like to concentrate on different Canvas assessment examples and walk you through the settings and different scenarios to help you during the academic year. Today, we look at a simple online submission. This could be for a reflective piece, it could be an instructional design document in computing and/or many other examples. This online submission doesn’t need to have the similarity checked.

Setting up assessment for online submission

In Canvas, go to the Assignments tab. Initially, you can set up assignment groups and weightings for the module if this is a requirement. To create groups, click +Group, name it (see below) and add the weightings now or later.

Canvas - creating assignment groups
Canvas – creating assignment groups

To create an assignment, simply click +Assignment:

Canvas - creating an assignment
Canvas – creating an assignment

Fill in the details on the assignment page:

Canvas - adding in assignment detail
Canvas – adding in assignment detail
Assignment title and instructions

When providing instructions, think about your audience and their needs.

Use headings. Highlight the headings / subheadings and apply heading formats 2 to 4 within the instructions. This helps structure text visually for sighted users but it also provides structure and tags for screen readers to pick up and communicate to users with low/no vision and other visual impairments.

Be explicit with the instructions. What is the task? When is the deadline? How do students submit their work? Are submissions limited to particular file types? What do students do in the event of not being able to submit to Canvas or they have some IT issue? Give contact details for alternative submission.

Use bold formatting to highlight key information. Do NOT use colour alone to do this. Anyone with colour blindness or colour/contrast impairment may not pick up this visual cue but bold draws our attention to the heavier looking text. Screen readers also pick up the bold tags and users of screen readers will know this is highlighted information.

Screen readers will not pick up the colour of text or font type. This is something to be aware of.

Do signpost students to available resources. This can be the Student Canvas Orientation Course to help students become familiar with how to submit work via Canvas (provide a link to the actual online submission page to save time). You could also provide links for referencing, reading lists, etc., so all the information is on the page and all students have equal opportunity.

What points do I set?

100! It can be points or percentage (be consistent) but 100 is the magic number! If there are assignment groups set up, you can add the assignment to a particular group and assign weightings. This may make it easier calculating grades in the future.

Canvas - 100 points / percentages
Canvas – 100 points / percentages

Sometimes you might choose ‘do not count this assignment toward final grade’. This can be selected if you intend to give students a mock assignment / exam to help prepare them for the assignment / exam format. Again, be explicit in the instructions that it’s a mock and does not count toward the final grade.

What kind of submission should I use?

In the Submission Type, there are a number of options available:

  • No submission
  • Online
  • On paper
  • External Tool

No submission could be used for an overarching information page. You will be given an example of this later in the week. Online submission will be covered today. An on paper submission is a physical copy of an assignment in print to the academic. Using the external tool would typically be to TurnItIn (Tii) but other options are available. More on Tii later in the week.

Today, we are concentrating on a simple online submission as a File Upload. As you can see from the image below, there are a number of online submission types available: text entry, website URL, media recordings, student annotation and file upload. When you set an assignment, you will know the format of the work you want submitted, i.e., written, verbal, etc.

When creating file uploads, the upload format can be limited to particular file types, i.e., doc, docx, PDF, txt, mp4, ppt, pptx, etc., (above, you can see we have restricted files to three formats). This may help reduce issues of transferring file types from .pages to .doc/docx.

If you require particular file formats, make it clear in the instructions. MAC users may be using Pages, they will need to export their work from .pages to .doc or .docx before uploading to Canvas. Not restricting the file types is OK too but will lead to a number of formats being received. You need to consider if you can read all formats.

Above, you will also see unlimited attempts. This allows students to upload their work multiple times any time before the deadline. The most recent upload (pre-deadline) is the submission which would be marked. Submissions after the deadline would be highlighted as late submissions by Canvas. If the deadline is 4.00pm on the day of submission, even a micro-second after this time shows as a late entry.

Can I assign the assessment to everyone?

Yes. When it comes to setting up the dates, by default this is assigned to all students within the module. You need to consider the start date, due date and available until date:

Canvas - assignment dates
Canvas – assignment dates

The Start date is the date students can access the assignment when it is published. For example, if the start date was next Monday, the page could be published now but now viewable until Monday. Next is the Due date. This is the deadline for submitting work.

Importantly, the Until date should be set way after the Due date. This still allows for submissions to come in and Canvas will highlight these as late submissions. If the Until date is missing, the submission button on the system disappears and this disadvantages students.

Can I assign the assessment to particular individuals?

To give individual students differentiated dates, simply click +Add, start typing in the students’ name and set the relevant dates for them. Remember to Save your work.

When students complete the assessment, how do they upload their work?

We are glad you asked. Students have a Canvas Orientation Course. When they access this course, there is a handy dashboard with quick links (as per below):

Canvas Student Orientation Course - dashboard
Canvas Student Orientation Course – dashboard

When students access this, they can click the Submit Assignments section and learn all about how to upload their work. Do give this as a direct link within your instructions. Don’t assume students are familiar with the system.

How do I know if all students have submitted?

Inside SpeedGrader, you can see the first students work. Look to the top right of the screen, there are left / right arrows and a down arrow to the right of the student name (top box highlight). Click the down arrow. Students with a circle to the left of their name have submitted work (as can be seen below):

Canvas - student submissions
Canvas – student submissions

For more on this, please read the Canvas Community page: How do I view the details of a of a submission for a student in SpeedGrader?

Can I mark work online?

Yes. Go to SpeedGrader and view student work. QUB Staff can view this handy video on how to mark and export grades for different types of assessment (note: Grading Policy):

When do grades get released?

If the Grading Policy is set to Automatic, grades get posted as they are entered into the system. This can lead to confusion and bad feeling if grades change. It’s much better to set the Grading Policy to Manual. This allows for marking to be done behind the scenes and agreed between cross-markers and exam boards.

The posting of grades can be done manually after the exam board and all students within the module will be notified at the same time. To post grades, go to Grades, click the ellipsis of the work you want to release grades for and in the dropdown menu, choose Post Grades. This releases grades and feedback for that particular assessment only (as seen below):

Canvas - posting grades (Manual Posting Policy)
Canvas – posting grades (Manual Posting Policy)
Next time

Tomorrow, we continue with Canvas Assessment and look at how portfolio work consisting of several sections may be submitted.

We hope you have a pleasant day. Please do join us then to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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