[Assignments] Allow Multiple Submission Types on the Same Assignment

Originally submitted by Sara Wolf


Currently, instructors can choose to allow a variety of formats for assignment submission. However, when the student submits, only one type can be used, unless the student elects to resubmit the assignment. Even so, if the student resubmits the assignment, the student can no longer see his or her first submission. So, if they make a mistake, they aren't sure what need to be fixed, because they can't see what they originally submitted.


It would be helpful to have students be able to submit a file type (graphic, or URL, or word document, for example) and then be able to also use the text box feature, in the same submission, to "tell about" their assignment. Ideally, the instructor would be able to see both submission types in the SpeedGrader in a single submission, and similarly, students would be able to see both submission types in their assignment submission interface. For instance, if students have to create an image of a floor plan for a future classroom, and then provide an "annotation" of that floor plan that describes how it illustrates their teaching philosophy, having the image be visible to the teacher at the same time as the annotation would be ideal. Another example would be an assignment that requires a link to a video url and accompanying text. If the students could submit the URL to the video and fill in a text box at the same time, they would be able to take advantage of the rich content functionality in the text box submission type (that is not available to them in the assignment comments area), and teachers would be able to evaluate the link to the video and the accompanying text simultaneously in the SpeedGrader.

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Community Coach
Community Coach

 @gclam ​, I'm glad our discourse was able to help you! I provided some information/input into the questions you listed in your post.

The original client-instructor inquiry:

"I have students submitting both a file and an URL. When they click on "review my submission" it just shows the URL, not the file. If there is no URL submitted the file shows. This is causing mass e-mail of students who think their files are not submitting. Please advise."

Kona Response: From my experience you can only actually submit one type of "Online Entry Options." Which ever is the last option that you clicked on - so what are you looking at URL or File upload - before you submitted is the only one that actually gets submitted.

Our support person’s first pass on testing and validating the client’s request:

"I tested it using a demo account just now, it appears that you can only submit one of the 3 types of content per submission. You can make more than one submission of course, but Canvas will only show you the last submission if you go under Submission Details. Did this use to work differently?"

Kona Response: As far as I'm aware, no this is always functioned like this.

Our client-instructor response to the first pass request for more info:

"The students can submit multiple files, that part works. It just gives misleading information that they only have 1 file submitted (when in fact they have 2 or 3). The submission summary is different from what they have actually submitted. This cannot be what is intended. It called "submission summary" when it fact it is last file submitted (which doesn’t really make sense). I assume it used to work but don't really know as I have never gotten bunches of e-mails about it before. Is there anywhere that I can direct students to where they can see what they have submitted for an assignment?"

Kona Response: When I double checked this with a student, I was able to go Grades, click on the name of the Assignment, and all files that I submitted (at the same time) for that assignment were visible - so I could see exactly what I submitted. If you click on the Assignment from Modules the student should be able to see all files that were submitted on the right side of the page in a box entitled "Submission." Here is a guide that might help as well - How do I know when my assignment has been submitted?

YET, all three files have to be submitted at the SAME time. If a student submits multiple files, but does so at different times then only the most recent submission will be visible; there is no way around this. In addition, when an Instructor provides feedback on the submissions, students can only see the feedback from the most recent submission. To me this is a big oversight and I created the following feature idea almost a year ago in April 2015 to try and remedy the issue - . The idea did get enough votes that Instructure responded to it with the following, "Thank you so much for the additional information each of you provided for Jason and his team.  They are working to prioritize this idea, however it is not possible within the next 6 months.  We will be archiving this idea, but don't forget to bookmark or follow it to receive updates."

Our support person’s second pass on testing and validating the client’s extended request:

"I tested the Submission Details feature on the cloud version of Canvas, and it behaves exactly the same as our own version so I don't think that it is a new bug. Having said that I do see the benefit of having a way for students to review all their submissions for an assignment, I can have a feature request written up for instructure if this is important to you."

Kona Response: As far as I'm aware students can view all files that were submitted at the same time. Students have never been able to view all submissions if the files were submitted at different times. There is already a feature idea for this that was responded to by Instructure (see my previous response), so as of right now this idea can't be revived.

I hope my above responses are useful and I would definitely appreciate any and all support and comments on the view all submissions and feedback feature idea - .

Community Novice

Hello Kona,

Thanks for taking your time to read through my lengthy posting and providing your 4 feedback responses to me.

I will be forwarding your info and suggested guide-document to our instructor for review and consideration.

I appreciate your practical feedback very much.  /gL

Community Coach
Community Coach

No problem! That's one of the many reasons the Community is so great! All the helpful and responsive people!

Community Novice

This option would be phenomenal.  I would like to assign my students contracts which give them options as to ways they would like to complete their work.  They would have to have the option to submit the assignment multiple ways and possibly multiple times.  This feature would really help meet the individual learning needs of my students. 

Community Novice

This feature is somewhat critical for any technical course that involves software programming of any sort. I teach graduate courses in data mining and econometrics in a business school. All of my assignments require the students to submit their source code, software package raw output, and a link to a shared Google Slides presentation of their results. I require all of the above because all of the above is what is expected of them when they begin to practice their new craft in the workplace for which we are preparing them. So I have had to kluge the submission process for every assignment. I instruct the students to submit their code as files and their links to Google Slides as a comment to the submission. Of course that means that the Google Slides presentation is not opened within the SpeedGrader window in Canvas.

Community Contributor

Hi stefaniesanders​, this might go part way to addressing the issues you've raised:

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Thanks, petern. If you look at your linked idea, you'll see that I was the person who gave you the link to this one. Smiley Happy

I do find yours to be a distinctly different idea. As a teacher of online-only classes, I have use cases that would benefit from an assignment that supports multiple online submission types. The idea that complements my feature idea nicely is which is on the product team's radar.

Community Member

We really need this feature. Please allow multiple attachments for one assignment.

Community Team
Community Team
  Idea is currently in Product Radar Learn more about this stage...

Community Novice

Course needed for: Photography

Goal 1 : Student uploads one high resolution photoshop IMAGE file.

Goal 2: student uploads an artist statement, google doc,  about their one photoshop image file.

I agree that re-submit will confuse students because other teachers will not accept that type of file submission "style".

Students are often anxious when submitting files and I often hear them say, "did I do this right?".

I imagine a button that says, "UPLOAD MULTIPLE FILES".

Almost all my kids are using google docs and barely any use MS word anymore.