[Gradebook] Gradebook and Speedgrader dropdown: Visible, Invisible, and More Options

In New Gradebook, instructors intuit incorrectly that Hide and Post replace Mute/Unmute. They believe these actions affect future grades. They do not know to look for the Grade Posting Policy.


Improving Canvas Guides only helps people who think they don't know what they're doing and "stop and ask for directions." At my campus, the onus has been put on instructional designers and admins to try to get the word out that these tools don't function the way they seem like they would. Because we use a lot of adjuncts, we will need to continue this campaign for as long as the tool is like this in Canvas. It's not a case where we teach people once and it's fine. Every new person will have to be taught not to trust their intuition with this tool. 


This is unsustainable and erodes user trust in Canvas.


Therefore, I suggest making Grade Posting Policy and Hide/Post more intuitive in both Grades and SpeedGrader.


In both SpeedGrader and Grades (so they match), give three clickable options:

  • Visible [would make past and future submissions visible to students]
  • Invisible [would make past and future submissions invisible to students]  
  • More Options [would open a right-side tray]


Notice Visible and Invisible are not verbs; they are states of being. This is what instructors want: to know what state an assignment is currently in and to be able to easily toggle it. Depending on how the assignment is set, either Visible or Invisible will be checked. The eyeball can give an icon clue without even clicking into this menu.


For the small number of people who need more granular control over the visibility of the assignment, More Options can open a right-side tray (or a pop-up or whatever). This tray/pop-up can control more options for whether future grades are posted or not, etc).  


The benefit to this system is it keeps it clean and simple for the vast number of users who really miss the mute/unmute toggle, but it allows more granular access for advanced users who need it. 



Scenario 1

I click into SG to grade a submission. A quick peek at the eyeball shows that it doesn't have a slash through it, so I know it's visible to students. I click the eyeball, see the check is next to Visible, and click Invisible. I grade and click the eyeball again, change the state to invisible. 


Scenario 2:

I've graded two submissions and look to see, oh shoot! The eyeball doesn't have a slash through it. I quickly click on the eyeball, change it to Invisible, and (this is a major change from currently) can grade the rest of the assignment, knowing with confidence that no students can see their grades. 


Scenario 3:

I'm setting my gradebook up for the term and quickly scan through the assignments. The eyeball quickly tells me which items are invisible to students. 


Scenario 4:

Several students are late with their assignment. Against the advice of my instructional designer, who is worried about academic integrity, I want to release feedback for the assignments I've already graded. But as the assignments come in, I'd prefer to hold off on releasing feedback for the tardy people until those are graded. I don't see an easy way to do that, so now I know I need to ask for directions, either by asking my ID or searching on Canvas. I see the More Options feature, click on that, and from there can control who gets the feedback released. This is not something I anticipate having to do often, so I don't mind having another click to get there. 


Yes, I editorialized a bit in the last one, and that's because More Options would not be relevant to most people. It makes sense to have the intuitive option foremost, with the more complex, advanced options hidden behind a click. 

Added to Theme

Improve Gradebook settings options Theme Status: Identified

Community Champion

I would add that I do not know how big or small the user group may be who requested that the muting function be divided between current and future grades.  I assume that it relates to courses that accept submissions over a long time period, but I do not know how many canvas users would benefit from that.  I'm concerned that recombining something that canvas only just separated, might be put to a lengthy vote and this should be corrected as soon as possible for all of the reasons you stated.

https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/15498-co-locate-controls-to-hidepost-existing-grades-and-manua... is intended to just put everything on one menu so that faculty can make a choice for current grades and a choice for future grades all in one place.  Your idea to combine current and future grade hiding/posting would work for the way I use the gradebook, but perhaps the users who need the options divided would benefit from the ability to decide which current/future posting options were combined by default instead of being forced into the right side menu for selections. 


No matter how the options are displayed, having everything together in one menu instead of divided into completely separate menu functions (as it is now) for hide/post and manual/automatic is what will make it make sense.  It is particularly confusing that the speedgrader is only able to hide/post current (not future) grades, and also that once hidden the grades can only be re-posted within the system that hid them (speedgrader or gradebook).  The menus need to function inter-changeably. 

Community Participant

I am confused by what is confusing faculty with regards to the Post/Hide impacting future grades. I think the issue is the behavior in Scenario 2 that is bothersome for a lot of faculty. Meaning, Canvas at times need for faculty to think before they make a move otherwise the result i somewhat  unforgiving. Ultimately, I believe the  idea of changing the labels from  verbs, Post/Hide, to Visible/Invisible would be better. We also have to consider what else Canvas is doing when grades are hidden/invisible. Canvas does not send a notification when the grades are Hidden ( previously Muted). Thus, the original Mute/UnMuted description is part of this. This change  began with my suggestion of having a  Mute Until option which got twisted into what we are seeing today. The suggestion was to enable faculty to set a date/time to Unmute grades. This way faculty could input grades at night, and release them the next day. 

Community Champion

 @vancej  The new controls may have come from your idea and that idea has been marked as complete, but they do not seem to provide the function your idea requested (a scheduled time for hidden/muted grades to be revealed to students https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/14161-mute-grade-until-date ).  If there is an "until date" for the manual grade posting policy I do not see it.  Instead there are now two sets of controls for current and future grades, and it is a lack of communication about this division that causes the confusion.


Faculty are accustomed to setting grades to be hidden/muted and then entering grades out of sight of students.  Hide/post (or visible/invisible) simply feels like a name change from mute/unmute, especially in speedgrader where it is the only option available.  However, there is no name change that will cause the current post/hide grades to function as was typical of mute/unmute.  Post/hide grades is different from the previous mute/unmute in that it initially only impacts existing grades already entered into the gradebook. 


To achieve the functions the original mute/unmute for future grades, faculty must use the new automatic/manual grade posting policies.  However, that policy is not accessed in the same menu as hide/post grades, or in speed grader at all.  Therefore faculty see hide/post grades and incorrectly recognize it as a new name for mute/unmute.  Failing to know that hide/post is more than a name change to mute/unmute is not an example of faculty failing to "think before they act." Seemingly obvious functions do not inspire anyone to open a manual.  The gap in communication comes from making something appear to have an obvious function without making the actual function obvious. All of these functions need to be displayed together to instigate the thought process that this is more than a name change.  Hence my idea:https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/15498-co-locate-controls-to-hidepost-existing-grades-and-manua...


If faculty correctly set grade posting to manual and then use post>graded after grades are entered, the grades have been posted.  If a resubmission or late submission is turned in, faculty return to the gradebook and see "manual" showing that the manual grade posting policy is turned on.  However, posting grades has over-ridden the grade posting policy entirely.  To hide the replacement grades, faculty must use the hide/post grades that are otherwise only influencing existing grades.  In fact, I'm going to update my idea to call these existing & replacement grades. 


If, for some reason, faculty select post>everybody when some students have not been graded, they now have no way to use the manual grade posting policy (despite the fact that it is still visibly set to manual), even for those ungraded submissions.  At that point faculty must use hide/post grades as if it was the original mute/unmute to hide the grades that they will see as "future" grades even though the computer sees the lack of a grade as a posted grade.  Post>everybody should definitely not be the default response, in fact it should be something that those who need have to enable.  (I am curious about what situation would require posting ungraded submissions, and how the student view would change in response... )


Just to recap, that says hide/post impacts only existing current grades until post>everybody is selected with at least one grade entered, and then for any remaining ungraded submissions hide/post works like the old mute/unmute (possibly with a slight delay).  Meanwhile, the manual grade posting policy is still turned on and yet completely inactive, even though it was previously the only way to hide grades that have not yet been entered.   


Confused?  Wait there's more:  If faculty hide grades in the speedgrader, then later come back to the gradebook to post grades from the gradebook - nothing happens.  The grades have to posted from the system that hid them.  (This last detail may be a bug that needs to be repaired rather than a feature, but it still adds to the confusion.) 

Community Champion

 @vancej ‌ "Ultimately, I believe the  idea of changing the labels from  verbs, Post/Hide, to Visible/Invisible would be better."
I think this would help, but unless the tool functions in the way that faculty expect (or is so confusing they are forced to consult the guides), changing the words alone won't be enough. 

For example, Hide does not make all submissions invisible in that category; it only makes the submissions that have already been graded invisible. But faculty think it makes future submissions invisible. So along with changing it to an adjective rather than a verb, I think we need to change the behavior to something they expect to happen. 

I think the key to this problem is that faculty are not tech experts, or at least mine aren't. They aren't teaching online by choice because they love the medium. They're teaching online because that's where some of the courses that they are contractually obligated to teach are hosted. Maybe they teach one course a term online. It's not something they're getting a huge amount of practice in. Many of them are still mystified by the Calendar and they need me to set it up for them. If I give them a link to that grade posting policy flowchart, they will not use grade posting policies, but this may be bad pedagogy (depending on the assignment). Or they'll just keep driving without stopping to ask for directions. 

Community Champion

"They're teaching online because that's where some of the courses that they are contractually obligated to teach are hosted." Yes!  And also using an online LMS for face-to-face courses because we are now required to do so. 

Faculty are not incapable of learning, however, so an adequate description would suffice over changing functions.  "Current" and "future" (or similar) need to be part of the description used on a single screen where all settings and policies that influence the display of grades all shown together.  At that point faculty can make the correct selection for their needs.  I do like the idea of setting a default for the course, though.

Community Participant

You are right that is a gap communication. No, there is not a date/time  option either. I hope I can clarify the impression from my post. The point I was attempting to make was about  Canvas' programming is unforgiving at times. The hiding of grades just happens to be one of those times. I  just took  another look at the process. If a grade column is empty, then the faculty will not see the Post/Hide options because there is nothing to hide or post. Thus, this is the ideal time for the faculty member to "hide" grades by using the Grading Posting Policy option. Otherwise, it  gets confusing as we are stating.

Community Champion

However, if zeros are automatically added to the gradebook at the due time by the late/missing policy, faculty who return to grade the assignment will find the post/hide options before they start to grade.  At least in my experience there is almost always at least one missing submission, and so hide/post is only unavailable to faculty until the due time passes.  As a result, there is the potential for confusion with every assignment.

Community Champion

"If a grade column is empty, then the faculty will not see the Post/Hide options because there is nothing to hide or post. Thus, this is the ideal time for the faculty member to "hide" grades by using the Grading Posting Policy option."

Unfortunately, what I've seen happen more often is faculty who think Hide is broken, or don't realize that there is a grade posting policy (because why would they?). They're just looking for the language that makes the most intuitive sense, and Hide is grayed out and says there are no grades to be hidden. So, they give the test student a grade, the Hide button becomes available, and they think they've "fixed" it. They click Hide and think future grades will be hidden. This has happened multiple times with mulitple faculty, and even after I explain that's not how it works, they don't understand because the words Hide and Post are so much more intuitive than "grade posting policy." 

What usually happens next is they give up on the whole thing and just let grades post automatically, even if that is bad pedagogy.

Thanks for giving me a chance to share what I've seen happen in my experience. I'm hoping Canvas engineers will read this and understand what's happening "on the ground."

Community Champion

steven‌, Really? I hadn't realized this. This is... not ideal. 

Community Champion

Confirmed in my sandbox with some test students. Shoot.