[SpeedGrader] Allow Annotations to Text Entry Submissions in SpeedGrader

For basic skills and ESL students, uploading files is a barrier in and of itself. They can do text entry; teachers need to be able to annotate writing line by line. Add annotations to text entry boxes, please! Normally students with such low tech skills would not need to submit things online in the first place. Due to the pandemic, we are in desperate need of a much more simplified (yet centralized and easy to grade/give feedback on) submission method.

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Provide more flexible grading options Theme Status: Identified

Community Participant

Having the ability to annotate text submissions is sorely needed as we have instructors who are using multiple methods to allow student submissions. 

This capability is needed to support Universal Design for Learning Guidelines - http://udlguidelines.cast.org/?utm_source=castsite&lutm_medium=web&utm_campaign=none&utm_content=abo...

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) (Johnston, 2020) 

  • A curricular framework that helps us to look at learning goals, materials, technology, methods we use to teach and the assessments and to think about them from the perspective of a broader range of learners - focused on learners and instructors – an learner-centered approach to creating learning environments that are thoughtfully designed for a wide range of learners; based on cognitive neuroscience research on how the brain works) 
  • A scientifically valid framework that guides educational practice.  The guidelines are based on over 800 peer reviewed journals - http://udlguidelines.cast.org/  

UDL includes:

  • Multiple means of representative 
  • Multiple means of engagement
  • Multiple means of action and expression 

In addition to annotation capability, having the ability to batch download annotated papers is also needed to support instructor workflows and administrative requirements.

In short, having this capability (and the batch download capability) would both be in alignment with peer reviewed research and would also assist instructors who need to retain these records for a period of one year after the course is over to fulfill administrative and quality regulatory requirements.


Johnston, S. (2020).  Universal Design for Learning to support remote learning.  Educause webinar presented 2020 April 21.  Retrieved 2020 May 5 from https://academy.educause.edu/courses/117 

Community Member

All of the above please! It would make life so much easier for students and instructors.

Community Novice

I would like to add my voice to this request.

I work at the WEA in the UK. Our learners are extremely digitally disadvantaged. Typically the most disadvantaged learners are the ones submitting their assignments using text entry and are those who would benefit most from the tutor being able to annotate their work to give them detailed feedback.

Please address this issue at the earliest opportunity.

Community Member

Since the text entry field is a rich content editor, students can turn in robust work products here.  This demands the ability for the teacher to highlight and comment on specific aspects of the submission.  +1!

Community Member
Community Novice

I agree with many of the above comments. I am also an Adult Ed ESL instructor. My colleagues and I are also wondering why the annotation / correction tools for assignments are only available for "file upload", not "text entry" submitted assignments, and if this could be changed. 

We have to go through many more steps = copy and paste file into word document, correct on word document, save and download file to my computer, upload to canvas to give appropriate feedback to our students.  Some students still have trouble accessing the comments I upload. 

Thank you for your consideration.  

Community Novice

This is completely necessary. I accidentally allowed text box submissions for an essay and now I can't annotate them.

Community Champion

This problem can be solved by someone who has the appropriate permissions, as they can:

1. get each of the text submissions (looking at the submission's



2. drop the text into a DOCX file

3. upload the submission - as the student (i.e.,masquerading)

4. Now you can comment on the new submission using speed grader

How to do this in pictures and code is shown in https://canvas.kth.se/courses/11/modules/49698 

While the above shows a proof of concept version of this, in general, it is hard to do the conversion of the "text" that the user entered to a docx file, since it is not just simple text that can be entered as the "Text entry" option for submitting an assignment allows the user to enter HTML code. This the submitted "text" could include images, videos, equations, fancy choices of fonts, color, font faces, ... .  For this reason, I output two versions of the submission: raw HTML and just the paragraphs (simply assuming that there are no HTML tags in the paragraphs). 


Community Explorer

Ditto to the comments above about adding the annotation function to the "text entry" submitted assignments. It would make things way easier for us, the instructors.

Community Member


I would like that the commenting and marking tool available in DocViewer would be available when students have written and submitted an assignment using Canvas' own text editor. (and I don't see why this is not a feature since it pushes teachers to use other tools than canvas)