[SpeedGrader] Screen Capture with Audio as a Comment Option

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas LMS

I grade a lot of essays, but I believe this feature might be valuable for other disciplines as well.


Canvas currently has the ability to post comments in video (webcam) or audio form--though, the flash programs for these seem to be hit or miss for me.


For essay feedback, I want to be able to communicate what I'm seeing in a student's essay, but I don't necessarily need them to see my face. Far more valuable to me is to be able to point to aspects of the essay or assignment while I'm talking and to have the student see those specific aspects while they are hearing my comments.


I do this now using Camtasia. I open speedgrader and begin recording a screen capture with audio. I then have to save the file and upload it to Canvas using the media comment video upload option.


This works, but it is a bit clunky. My speed at grading would be greatly increased if I could press a button and simply begin recording the screen.


Again, I know the benefit of this with essays, but my guess is that it could be of benefit to almost any discipline. If an instructor is taking the time to record a comment of any sort, it is probably a comment that has something to do with the digital object that is right on the screen. The added benefit would be that if the recorder is capturing the screen and not just the current window, an instructor could use the video as a digital whiteboard. I can imagine a math instructor giving a just in time KhanAcademy style explanation for a problem on which a particular student seems to be having difficulties.


Since I have an android tablet with a stylus, if this could be incorporated into the android speedgrader app, that would be some wicked awesome future s%&t!!!

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Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Hey folks,

You read my mind. This is something we would most definitely like to do. It's not slated to be something we work on in the immediate future, but it's an awesome idea (that I have been exploring for the past year) and I do really hope we can get to this at some point! I'm going to move this into the "Under Consideration" phase so that I can give you updates when we do inevitably get to it.

Thanks so much!

Community Explorer

For anyone wanting to do something like this in the near term, my current (less elegant but pretty quick) solution is as follows.

Using Camtasia if you have it or one of the free screen recording programs on your computer like CamStudio (CamStudio - Free Screen Recording Software)​ record your desktop or a portion thereof with output set to "avi"--Camstudio defaults to avi, but you have to change the settings in Camtasia recorder: For Camtasia recorder--open recorder, click "tools," select "recording options," change the default "Record to" from ".trec" to ".avi" and set an easy to find temp folder (I use one on my desktop. When you are done with a recording, just click "save."

The avi file will be pretty big, but in Canvas, if you click on the media comment and upload your "avi," Canvas will do all the conversion in the background to a video file that is smaller and that students can view.

This removes the need for me to wait for my computer to do any processing. I can do the upload pretty quickly, and the video size does not seem to be counting against the max MB size for a class. If I need the local hard drive space back, I can just delete all the videos I've created locally when I'm done with a batch of comments.

Obviously, this can only be done on PC (or probably Mac--don't have a Mac, so can't test).

Community Contributor

915085611 this is a fantastic idea!  Would be brilliant for our school

Community Champion

All good options and I've used many of them.  For my next grading voyage (sometimes it is a journey), I am setting myself up to use Screencastify (browser based screen recorder) along with the Speedgrader window being open.  My ambition is to record the screen as I mark up the paper. Now only if I had a pretty green check such as... :smileycheck:  .   Of course this is after I've already read it. 

Hmm... thinking out loud:  Screencastify has a Google Drive linkage. It would be cool if the Upload Media tab in Canvas could pull from Google Drive as well.


Community Team
Community Team

This idea was moved from Under Consideration stage (no longer in use) to the Product Radar stage.  

This change was made as part of a feature idea process evolution.  Find more information, and contribute insights, by joining Focus Group: DRAFT Feature Idea Space

Community Novice

I just had an online chat with Canvas Support to ask exactly this! They pointed me here to suggest it. A 'click to record audio' button in the annotations part of Speedgrader would be awesome. Being able to circle parts of a student's work while talking about it is a killer feature. Come on Canvas - what are you waiting for??!

Community Participant

Just had a Canvas chat about the voice annotation feature. Here are more suggestions:

1. larger icons for the user; 

2. allows "annotated recordings" through the submission, vs. being lumped together at the corner of the screen.

3. allows the "title" of each sound clip to be displayed, or by default, numbered, vs. having the same title "This is a media comment". This would be hard for students to tell which ones have been played. 

4. allows instructor to see if an audio comment has been played. (such as color change etc.) 
**Perhaps for item 3 and 4, just make the play button a checkbox, visible to both prof. and student?**

5. allows the instructor to download all annotated submissions (with either audio or text-only annotations) at once. Professors can use this feature to track the progress of particular students or a whole class after a few assignments. Right now only text-annotated submissions can be downloaded by the instructor but it has to be done student by student. 

6. allows the instructor to download all audio comments at once. This would allow researchers to conduct more analysis of effective audio comments using other software. 

Community Champion

 @swinsor ‌, all - some very good news:  this screen recording feature was selected by a product focus group to be a priority for development.  The comments on this page have a great start on the desired features.  Anything more to add?

More here:  What in the world does “Khaki” have to do with Canvas? 


Community Participant

From the research point of view, I'd like to see two more features added:

- allows instructors to download the "review status" of all the voice and text comments in one assignment, and have that record sorted by student. This record will provide the foundation to compare if audio comments are more likely to be reviewed than text comments, and if the number of review times are correlated with future grades. Ideally, the details of "review status" should include when and how many times the comments were viewed or played.

- increase default course space (or decrease the size of audio files) to accommodate audio comments so that the benefits of this feature can be optimized. Smiley Happy 

Community Novice

I love this idea, and i'd like to see as a feature as part of the Media editor (and not just for the speedgrader).

Under the 'integration ideas' area, I just added a request for CANVAS to please provide the facility to record screencasts directly from the Canvas user interface.  Imagine a teacher creating some content for a course, they use the Media editor to create the page, record and embed a video, type some text, etc. It would be great if they could also just 'start recording' a section of their desktop. i.e. make the user experience seamless without having to go an external tool to do this, or need a separate installation etc.