[Gradebook] Nickname for students with same name

At the University of Wisconsin - Madison, we frequently have courses with over 500 students. With those numbers, we frequently get two students with the same name. When you're working in the gradebook, or in Speedgrader, there is no way to confirm which student is which.


Additionally, with a large population of foreign nationals, many will adopt Americanized names (e.g. "Frank", in lieu of "Zhang").


For these two reasons, (and there may be others) I would like to see a "Nickname" option for each student. A field (my thinking) in gradebook that could be toggled on/off as needed. Once the field is on, it is left blank for the all students. But, the instructor can custom populate that field for each student. Whatever is shown there would be used "in place" of the student's official name within the Gradebook, or SpeedGrader. If this field is left blank, then the official student name is employed as-is.

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Community Novice

I just tried to do the same thing before I came here to see if there was a way to do this! It would be great to have this feature. Right now, it's a pain to bring a paper copy of the attendance roster to class with the students' nicknames written on it. 

Community Novice

Why isn't this already a thing?  I hate to rant, here is another example of something that shouldn't need to get x-upvotes to make happen.  Canvas - invest in an R&D department; put together a faculty focus group; allow faculty to give you ideas that go through the focus group and your R&D department.  Quit making us spend time lobbying and advocating for features that should just 'be' and are not difficult to implement. /end rant

Community Novice

Groups are presently nearly impossible to set up if you have students with duplicate names, due to the absence of this feature.

Community Novice

Hard to believe this request is 15 months old and still not addressed. It's such a light lift for what is a genuine flaw in Canvas.

Community Champion

This would also be helpful to help students who would like to be called by something other than the name they're registered as--for example, if they're beginning social transitioning and haven't legal changed their name yet. Dysphoria is a major health problem for trans students, and allowing them to go by the name of their choosing saves lives.  

Community Explorer

Some way for students to self-identify what they want instructors and other students to call them would be fabulous!  I have students who go by their middle names, which reflect their cultural identity that their "first" and more "American" name does not.  They prefer their middle name, but their fellow students cannot know that.  In a class of 35, other students are simply not going to read through and remember what all the other students say in their "getting to know you" discussion board.  It would be best if this was not an "add to your official name" item for transgender or transitioning students.  Although something like Jonathan Jones (Kahale) or Jonathan Jones (Jonny) works for someone who identifies as their birth gender, Jennifer Smith (Jonathan) is potentially a very poor solution.  The best solution would be to replace the first name with the desired first name, while allowing instructors access to a separate listing that listed "official" names.

Community Contributor

Great ideas here! We have a college process to assist students who want to change their viewable name in Canvas but I definitely agree with the other posters that this is an equity issue. We continue to struggle with student nicknames for our ESL classes and International students. Students adopt a more typical "US Name" which has no relation to their formal, given name. This makes it difficult for faculty when they want to enter grades into Canvas (for work submitted in class) because currently there isn't a way to sort the grade book that is helpful. They need to continually cross-reference the name on the paper with the nickname stored in the Notes column and keep hunting through the list of names. Ideally, there would be a "nickname" field as requested above and it would be included in the New Gradebook sortable options.  (Or at least provide an option to Sort using the Notes column.)

Thank you!

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

 @arovner ‌, if you haven't yet seen https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/15144-ability-to-sort-notes-column-in-new-gradebook , please add your vote and comments to the idea.

Community Contributor

Hi Stephanie -

I hadn't!  Thank you for the redirect!  Will share with my faculty.



Community Member

When composing a message from a teachers profile and choosing students, It would benefit a lot of our administration staff to have a way of differentiating students who have the same name. Students with the same name are hard to differentiate due to the fact that canvas does not show their email address nor sis id nor their profile picture.

 Will hopefully prevent private messages from going to the wrong student.