Kelvin Dean

First Look: Teacher Assignment Enhancements

Blog Post created by Kelvin Dean on Feb 5, 2020

Ever wonder what New Assignments will look like for teachers in the future? We want to have a more fluent and friendly design when it comes to creating and submitting assignments. Check it out!




One of the things that I have learned back to a community college back to 2016 is submitting assignments online through Canvas.


According to the video here (Assignment Workflow Improvements), the purpose is to:

What is the purpose of the Assignments page?
Provide content and instructionProvide a place to submit work
Define rules of engagement (who, what, when, how)Give and understand feedback


Some problems with assignments are that teachers sometimes fail to provide clear instructions and a well-written assignment title, making the assignment meaningless to students. That gives us a question to think about: What if a student is absent on the day the in-class instructions for that assignment are presented?


For example, in an online assignment quiz, my teacher failed to provide clear instructions for an end of course survey (by the way, that was from one of the very first courses that I ever took on Canvas back to Summer 2013). That is not the right thing to do.

(This is from a student's view. Grades/results are hidden for security purposes.)


Unclear Instructions


The purpose is still the same. How can we make the Assignments page better, and make teachers create Assignments the RIGHT way?



New Assignments Teacher View


Assignment Enhancements were made available in the beta environment for students as of 12/23/2019. The teacher's view has not yet been implemented.

From the teacher's view, in addition to selecting the assignment group as well as adding details like the title and description, you can now choose which module you want the assignment to be placed. Let's say you have modules like Economics, Social Sciences, Math, Science, etc. In that case, the assignment on Egypt Economy Research would most likely fit in the Economics module. The description box uses the new RCE (which includes the handy HTML editor) (see Canvas Release: New Rich Content Editor (2020-01-18) for more info).


Egypt Economy Research



As always, you can add availability dates and assign the work to specific groups. There are two new features to look at:


Submission Items

You can now include multiple submission items you want to use. For example, if you are creating a data science assignment, you can filter the submission type to only allow CSV files.


Submission Types


We don't know what this is, but I think this one is relating to an external tool (i.e., New Quizzes).



Students will be required to upload a file as their submission.



Students will be required to upload an image as their submission. This is useful for classes like art and photography.



Audio/video submissions would work for this submission type.



This is recommended for assignments on paper. Don't confuse this with App submissions, as they are not the same thing.



You can utilize the full potential of the Rich Content Editor to submit your assignment.



This is useful for assignments on social media like Twitter, as well as other Canvas pages.


At this time, you can use the OR statement, which means you can choose one method or the other. For example, your teacher may give you the option to choose whether you want to upload a PDF or a picture.


Dates & Attempts



Attempts Allowed

Like in quizzes, you can now limit the number of attempts.

This feature is now available in the beta environment and will be available in the production environment on 4/18/2020 in the Classic Assignment Workflow (Canvas Release Notes (2020-04-18)). However, options to keep the highest, latest, or average grade have not yet been released at this moment.

Assignment Attempts



The Allowed Attempts setting for a single assignment was previously available through API calls and will be available through the GUI starting on April 18.



This makes fewer files for professors to grade. They can give feedback, return it and allow students a 2nd chance (if enabled).



For assignments placed in modules, if students fail to reach the required grade for that assignment after the attempt limit has been reached, they may not be able to complete the course, as shown below, since they would not have fulfilled the prerequisites for this module (How do I add prerequisites to a module?). We recommend unlimited attempts in this case.


Attempts in Quizzes

Consider the quiz above. The student has only one hour to complete the quiz for that topic. When placed in a module, a score of 90% or above is needed to pass within 2 attempts or less (a 3rd attempt is available upon request). If the student fails after the 3rd attempt, he/she will be flagged as Not Yet Competent in the module and will not be able to complete the course, since the prerequisites to unlock the next module would not have been fulfilled. Sounds harsh, right?




Grading tab


Graded Assignment

You can now use ungraded assignments in the New Assignment Workflow. This can come in handy for practice assignments. You can also exclude the assignment from the final grade.


All Submissions

View the student submissions.


Display Grade To Student As

Select how you want to display the grade as (Percent, Complete/Incomplete, Points, Letter Grade, GPA Scale).


Grade To Keep

Like in New Quizzes, you can select whether you want to keep the highest, average, or most recent grade.


Files Accepted Per Item

Select the number of files allowed.


Late Policy

Select whether or not you want to apply a late penalty to an assignment. You can set how much to deduct per day or hour as well as the lowest possible grade. See Late Policies: Instructor FAQ for more info.

Keep in mind, this will affect any previously graded submissions, not just newly received submissions. Please be careful about making changes in this section.


Late and missing policy


Post Policy

When should grades be visible? It's up to you to decide.


Post Policy


As always, there is still Anonymous and Moderated Grading available, as well as syncing to the SIS (may vary by local institution).



Rubrics will continue to be available in Assignments.





Rubrics & External Tools

In the past, when you wanted to create a rubric in an External Tool, you would create your assignment and add your rubric (+Rubric) before setting up the external tool, as shown. That has changed in the New Assignment Workflow. Clicking on the Rubric tab will prepare your rubric for you. There's no need to click the +Rubric button again, making things faster in one less click. See my blog post (Hidden Gems: Working with Rubrics in New Quizzes) to learn more about Rubrics in New Quizzes.


Rubrics & External Tools

Unless you are configuring the Quizzes 2 LTI, do not configure any external tools at this point. Just save the assignment for now.



Old Assignment Add Rubric

If you create an assignment in your course using the External Tool submission type, rubrics must be added BEFORE choosing that submission type (+Rubric), as shown above (for example, if you're creating a Google Cloud Assignment). Since this screenshot above was taken from an older version of Canvas, it did not have the ability to edit the rubric after configuring the Quizzes 2 LTI. As a result, we set the Submission Type to No Submission (Submitting: Nothing) before adding the rubric.



This is similar to the Moderate tab in New Quizzes. As always, you can launch the SpeedGrader and message students whose submissions haven't been submitted or graded yet, or whose grades are lower than or greater than a certain threshold (How do I send a message to my students from the Gradebook?).




But, here come's the fun part.


Student Actions





You can send a message to the student for any of the reasons listed above. Please be kind when communicating with students, as we don't want them to leave out negative course evaluations!



(This was previously available in New Quizzes.) Let's say that some students (Emily & Max) started their assignments, but they forgot to submit them. You can now submit their submissions on their behalf.




The following items relate to student accommodations (i.e., students who have educational disabilities).



You can extend a due date for many reasons, such as excused absences, and in rare cases, when the student was treated unfairly and wants another chance.



You can give the student extra attempts for a particular assignment, not just for New Quizzes.


Missing Features

There are some features still missing, such as Peer Reviews, Group Assignments, etc.


Student View

Refer to this document: Canvas Release: Student Assignment Enhancements




Q: Is there an HTML editor available?

A: The Details tab uses the New RCE. Click the </> button at the bottom right corner to launch the HTML editor. Do keep in mind that we've found serious issues with the HTML editor in the New RCE, so it's better not to use it at this time.


Grading & Rubrics

Q: Will the Rubric tab still be visible when we use an External Tool?

A: Previously, when an External Tool is implemented, if you fail to add your rubric first, you would have to remove the external tool, edit the assignment, add the rubric, then go back and add the external tool back in, but that is no longer the case. Now you can add or delete rubrics without modifying the external tool.


Q: Will it support Pass/No Pass grades?

A: To work this around, display the grade as Complete/Incomplete. In the student's grades, he/she will see a checkmark for Pass, and an X for No Pass.


K-12 Institutions

Q: From the student tab, will there be an option to message parents/observers?

A: That is a great suggestion, but it hasn't been added yet.


Timed Assignments

Q: Will there be timed assignments, where a student has a limited amount of time to complete the assignment after pressing the Begin button, and he/she needs to submit the assignment before time expires to avoid a late penalty?

A: In order to accomplish this, you will need to configure the Quizzes 2 LTI and create a File Upload question. A thing to note is that you should make the file available for download in the instructions space, instead of the question space, so that students don't accidentally start the clock and begin downloading the quiz file.



Q: How long until the New Assignment Workflow reaches parity?

A: We don't know yet, but new features will be added first, followed by existing features later.