Gerald Q. Maguire

Discovering ungraded assignments in courses with sections

Blog Post created by Gerald Q. Maguire on Feb 9, 2020

I find the current system of emails of newly submitted assignments to be almost worthless, as I am in a number of courses where there are large numbers of students and most of them are irrelevant from my point of view as a teacher. In these courses, sections have been created to make it easy for a teacher to view the subset of students that is actually relevant to the teacher. However, since I have a large number of such courses (i.e., more than a dozen) and students are submitting material at their own pace through these courses, it is difficult to find the wheat among the chaff of notices about submissions for each of these courses.

 

This motivated the design of a program to get information about just the assignment submissions that I am interested in. Of course one can easily get a list of all the courses that a user is in, but how can you know what sections within these courses a user is interested in?  The answer is to ask the user to provide this information!

 

The result is two programs:

  1. create_JSON_file_of_sections_in_your_courses.py
  2. list_ungraded_submissions_in_your_courses_JSON.py

The first program creates a JSON formatted file with a course_info dictionary of the form:

{"courses_to_ignore": dict_of_courses_to_ignore,

"courses_without_specific_sections": dict_of_courses_without_specific_sections,

"courses_with_sections": dict_of_courses_with_sections

}

 

courses_to_ignore are courses that the user wants to ignore
courses_without_specific_sections are courses where the user is responsible for all the students in the course
courses_with_sections are courses where the user has a specific section - the specific section's name may be the user's name (in Canvas) or some other unique string (such as "Chip's section"). Because the name of the relevant section can be arbitrary, this file is necessary to know which section belongs to a given user.

 

The second program reads the information from the JSON file and then prunes out the courses_to_ignore from the list of a user's courses and then uses the information from courses_without_specific_sections and courses_with_sections to iterate through the courses and looks for ungraded assignments and then for each of the relevant students (in a course or section) looks for an ungraded assignment. Currently, the program just outputs information about these assignments.

 

To set up the JSON file is easy, you simply run the first program and then move entries from the courses_with_sections dict to one of the other dicts (removing unnecessary or irrelevant sections as you go). You can fun the first program in update mode (with the -U flag) to add more courses - it remembers the courses you have set to be ignored and the ones you have responsibility for all the students.

 

The programs can be found at GitHub - gqmaguirejr/Canvas-tools: Some tools for use with the Canvas LMS. 

 

Of course, I discovered an assignment that had been submitted that I had not seen, so on to grading it!

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