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New Member

Is there a bulk grading option or workaround?

Apologies if the answer to this question is obvious, I've tried to find an answer in the guides but haven't had any luck so far.

I am the admin of a large MOOC being held on Canvas (about 2000 students) and all of the discussions are simply considered pass/fail. We need to have them this way so that we have a way to track how many discussions folks are participating in to get them a certificate. Is there a way that I can "grade" any of the posts immediately, or is using the Speed Grader the only way to do it, one at a time?

Assignments are simply Complete/Incomplete at the moment. Since we are having hundreds of people responding, it would save a lot of time if there was a way to do this quickly.

Thank you!

15 Replies

Hi there Brian,

I love all the responses and great ideas. My name is Hilary and I am the manager of Canvas Network. Let me see if I can share a few ideas as well.

Graded discussions and rubrics. I actually suggest bypassing using the Gradebook and Speedgrader in large enrollment courses because the time it takes to load. Also if you have over 1,500 in your course it may not load at all. If you feel your course design does require graded discussions I suggest adding a rubric so you can quickly grade it right there. It does, however, mean manually grading discussion posts.

Large enrollment audience. Lifelong learners who enroll in MOOCS are very different from traditional learners enrolled at an academic institution. They are more concerned about the learning application or experience and less concerned about grades. I would venture to say they are more concerned about earning an open badge or certificate than they are the grade as well. This actually means teachers and designers have more room to be innovative and experimental in their design approach.

I encourage my clients to adopt a new way of thinking when it comes to large enrollment courses. Utilize Module Requirements, open badges like Badgr or Credly, and certificate modules. Canvas Network clients have free access to Badgr and Credly. Check out the Canvas Network Training Course for more information on Badges in Canvas Network if you are a Canvas Network instructor. When you do this, you build your course with data points that will not only award students with a visual representation of their learning but it will also help you, the instructor, monitor student progress in your course.

Certificate Module. I realize some may not be familiar with this term as it is something we say in Canvas Network, not necessarily in other departments. Here is how this works. After you have added module requirements to all the important content in your course you can set up a module at the end that only opens after the module requirements have been met. Then you can a) upload a generic certificate of participation for students to download b) create some kind of form to gather student information to add to a personalized certificate. 

Option A does not provide the best learner experience especially since the MOOC audience is maturing and is beginning to have greater expectations. Option B may sound intimidating, but it need not be. I really like the Google add-on autoCrat. It uses Google Docs and Google Sheets. You can automate the creation and dissemination of certificates to students through this easy to use add-on. You can then see how many learners actually went in and requested a certificate. The only real downside is that there are design limitations. ...if you (or anyone else) would like more information on certificate modules let me know and I can write up more information. If you are a Canvas Network instructor you can also go to the Canvas Network Training course for more information on certificate modules.

Brian, do you plan on manually going through the Gradebook to award certificates?

Non-linear vs. linear design for open courses. stefaniesanders​ was on the right track when she suggested bypassing grades and making the discussions a prerequsite before moving on to the next learning object. However, as you pointed out this does not allow for a non-linear approach. I personally think a non-linear approach is optimal if you want to reach various types of participants who have different learning goals. For example, some enroll in a whole course specifically to learn about a single module that they need for their career or that they are specifically interested.

If any of the items here are of interest or if you would like me to write more about these topics or similar large enrollment design considerations let me know and I will be happy to expand on it.

Hi Hilary! Wow, it's so great to get so much support and ideas from so many people! Thank you!

So, the way the course is devised, students need to have a certain percentage of discussion responses in order to get a certificate, which is a 75% completion. So the plan was to go through, grade the assignments as either Complete/Incomplete and then based upon who completed 75% or more of the assignments, they would get a certificate. Of course, if there is a way to automate more of this process, that's something we'd certainly want to examine. Your certificate module is compelling, though I am not sure if you can set a type of benchmark that would open it after a certain threshold of completion.

You're totally right in terms of the MOOC audience, their expectations, and their activity. It's important, as this course if offered freely, that individuals get some sort of feedback (even if just a 'complete' notice) to keep them going. So a badge or something like that would also be helpful, just to keep them going.

Any more information you can share, be it with how a certificate option or a badge can be utilized would be helpful as well. I still don't have an easy way to mark complete those who have participated in the discussion, but these are all great ideas that I would like to examine further! Thank you!

I am glad this is helpful Brian.

If you can tell me the name of your course I can dip in or at least let your ID know you have questions and she can reach out to you with more details.


Hi Hilary,

The Course name is: Environmental Education: Trans-disciplinary Approaches to Addressing Wicked Problems  and the course Code is GOC-101. Let me know if that is the information you require. Thank you!

I have an alternative to this. If I'm reading your intentions correctly, you want to have discussions that show up for the students and then want to have a way to automatically award credit. This is the way I might do this:

1. Create the discussions and assign them, but put them into an assignment category that contributes 0% to the final grade (under assignments, you can create a new category called "discussions" but which is set to contribute 0% to the overall grade)--this allows the assignment to have a due date and to show up in the "to do" list and will allow it to automatically show as "done" in student view once a student has contributed to the discussion.

2. Create a super brief quiz called "Report completion of X discussion" for each discussion that has one question for the student ("Have you completed this discussion?" Yes or No--with "yes" answers automatically awarding points--i.e. whatever points you would have given to the discussion)

3. In the directions for the discussion, include a link to this point awarding quiz at the top--something like: "To add points to the gradebook report your completion of this discussion by clicking here" with a re-direct to the quiz.

This, then, places the grading step in the students' hands and removes the instructor's need to grade the discussion at all.

It is perhaps an inelegant solution but one that might serve the needs.

New Member

For my course on Canvas that has an enrollment of 400+, I wanted to assign a score for one of the grade categories based on a more complex algorithm than what Grades uses and I wanted to be able to ADD SCORES IN BULK. So, what I did, following instructions from the Manual about exporting and importing grade files (see here) was to:

  1. create an assignment (with the desired weight in the overall scoring procedure) and make it so that it wasn't available for student submissions or automatic scoring but would yield a column in the grade book;
  2. leave the assignments that were to figure in my scoring algorithm with NO WEIGHT in Grades;
  3. download a CSV file with all the data from Grades (henceforth Sheet A);
  4. copy and paste the relevant data to a copy of Sheet A with all students sorted in exactly the same way (henceforth Sheet B);
  5. manipulate the data in Sheet B in such a way as to populate a column with the output of my scoring algorithm;
  6. copy and paste the scores from that column into the appropriate, otherwise empty column in Sheet A;
  7. import the revised Sheet A (with no other changes having been made);

Doing something like this makes it possible to bypass the one-by-one score entry procedures imposed both by Speed Grader and by Grades viewed as a quasi-spreadsheet.

However, in your situation, as I understand it, how to identify the students who should get a score of complete for a given discussion assignment from those who should not is a separate problem. I think this problem may be at least partially solved by using SpeedGrader, with students sorted into two groups. I assume that SpeedGrader will load and operate for this large of a number of students and that Discussions was used to create the assignments for which completion must be recorded. If so, and if you DO NOT first set it up for there to be a default score (as suggested in an earlier post), you can navigate to the assignment and choose SpeedGrader. In the SpeedGrader view of the assignment, select Settings and then sort students by submission status (see attached screenshot). Students should be sorted into two groups: (1) Submitted needs grading and (2) No submission. Figure out which group is smaller and, depending on which that is, enter either a 0 or 1 into the grade entry slot for all and only those students. Then, either use some version of the spreadsheet method described above to enter the scores in bulk for the other students, or, having entered scores individually for what is hopefully a relatively small number of students, the default score mechanism might be fruitfully employed at this point. Just make the default score 1 if 0s were entered in the earlier step. Note: I haven't tried this last suggested step. But, it should work.