[Assignments] Differentiate Assignments

It is easy to assign an assignment to select students. However, rather than just show "everyone" on assignments, it would be great if it could list all students in the course with a check box next to their name. It would be so much faster to deselect all or only deselect a few rather than having to type in 70/80 names for the mainstream assignment. 

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Community Member

I have found a bit of a workaround for this which requires a windows computer and the use of an external application.

The application is called ClickPaste, and it simulates typing the text from a keyboard rather than pasting the whole thing at once. Download and extract the zip file from here, and then run the clickpaste.exe application to load it up. Then, if you copy and paste a list of students from a spreadsheet, it will work as you all hoped for.

I also added the application to my startup items and made sure it was always visible in the system tray.

If that all sounds confusing to you, you can just watch this screencast I recorded of the entire process. It's really not too bad.


Community Member

Yes, please.  This would be great.  It seems like an easy fix.... provide a dropdown with a list of students with checkboxes, so we can easily select/deselect them when assigning quizzes, discussions, and assignments.  This would make life so much easier.  Thank you for considering!

Community Explorer

Where you have students with the same name, the work around for that we use is to create a group in canvas and assign the same named students to different group sets and groups on their own. You can search using their SRN number. The people area allows you do that. Note only the student will be in that group. When sending a message via Inbox,  the staff can the differentiate who the students are by sending a message to the "group". For assignments, you can set up an "group" assignment and assign it to just that one student group. Here's a video that explains this:  https://youtu.be/kyKT4hGtvKQ

Community Champion

@JeffConner thanks so much for the information on ClickPaste.  I tested it out and it works like a charm!  (I found a keystroke paster on github for the Mac too, but it looks much more complicated and difficult to set up and doesn't work in some versions.)

Your youtube screencast is so thorough, even explaining how to get the shortcut into the startup folder.  Thank you for your brilliant idea and all your work to share it with the community.

It is a workaround until Instructure comes up with a solution within Canvas.  Until we can use groups to differentiate assignments, or a checkbox or other feature for selecting the Assign to's, this will save a lot of pain.  Not to mention if there are 2 students with the same name, which has happened to me.

Community Member

I  also asked for this feature last year

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni
Comments from Instructure

FYI: The Assign To field displays secondary information to differentiate students with the same name. This change provides additional information to differentiate students with the same name who are being added to an assignment.

For more information, please refer to the  Canvas Deploy Notes (2021-09-15).

Community Participant

It would be great to be able to have a dropdown menu that loads all my students when assigning so I can unclick certain students that need a modification or multiple attempts on a quiz. Typing in everyone in the class but two students make it very difficult and tedious. 

Example: I have a quiz that all students have on attempt and then they are done. However, I have 2 students with accommodations that need a second attempt for corrections. I would like to create the quiz and assign it to all students except for those 2 students, then make a copy of the quiz and open up attempts then send it to those 2 students. However, typing in each student from the large class makes this extremely tedious. I'd love if the class would load with boxes next to their names and I could select all, then go through and unselect the two students I'd like to not receive the original quiz, then make a copy of the quiz with more attempts and only assign it to those two students. 

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi @jennifer_neubar,

It sounds like you may not be using the intended workflow for this situation.  I believe what you should do is setup the quiz for everyone, then go to the Moderate section of the quiz, and give the specific students an extra attempt from there.  This should work quicker, and should also clean up your gradebook a bit (no multiple copies of the same assessment to worry about).

There are guides available at:

Hope this helps!


Community Member

One feature that would be nice is a way that when you click assign to "Everyone" there is a way to quickly remove one or two students verses having to add every student manually except the 1 or 2 that you do not want the assignment to go to. This is particularly useful when managing assignments and creating modifications for students with an IEP.

Community Participant

@chriscas Thank you! Thank you!!!! Exactly what I needed!!!