Allow Annotations to Text Entry Submissions in SpeedGrader

0 Kudos

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.

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni
Status changed to: Open
New Member

Being able to have students easily send material that arrives in one place would be ideal for teacher and student. I need a technology where I can annotate student work and archive. My students have different operating systems and could be submitting on a phone, a tablet, a laptop or a computer. They may not know word, office 365, google forms or how to upload or download a file. All of this needs to be explained to students with limited English.

New Member

I teach lower levels of ESL and so I often need to make grammar or spelling comments.  Currently, if a student submits using text entry, I have to copy it and paste it into word, print it out, make comments by hand, take a photo and email to to myself and then attach it to the comments. Another option is to copy and past parts of it into the comments box and then explain what the problem is.  Another option is to tell them which sentence/section to look at and then enter comments. Imagine if I could highlight or add punctuation in another color text, or underline, or make bold.....  

New Member

To date, I have been asking students in my intermediate level ESL class to write their paragraphs in an email and send them to me.  I am not entirely satisfied with this approach as it takes students out of canvas to do the writing assignment.

Having an annotation tool for the text entry box in Canvas would be wonderful. 


New Member

My low level ESL students are beginners when it comes to Canvas and technology in general. They do not know Word, or other word editing software. I was able to train some of them to submit assignments in Canvas via text entry. This way, although easier for my students than typing in Word, saving and attaching a file (a task too complex right now to do for most of them) makes correcting their work more difficult for the teacher as there are no annotation tools available for text entries. Please please add annotation tools to make this process smooth for all parties involved. And no, correcting students’ work in Word and then attaching that Word file in Canvas is not an effective solutions for the students i work with. Thank you!

New Member

My issues are similar to the other commenters. The burden of learning apps and word processing, etc. looms larger for ESL students, especially at intermediate or low levels. Giving us annotation tools for typed-in submissions would be super useful if it can be done.

New Member

Adding annotation tools to Canvas is essential if the written exchanges between teacher and student are to be straightforward and easy to access for both parties.  This would be a huge improvement for my ESL students' online learning experience.

Please consider enhancing the text entry option in Canvas with annotation tools. 


New Member

I heartily agree. I spend countless hours with my Intermediate-level ESL students trying to help them with One Drive, in order to write their assignments in Word and upload for grading with annotated feedback. One problem after another arises, which I've never encountered on my own computer; they're asked to log in but don't have passwords, they're denied access, they don't know how to rename files... if only we could annotate our feedback using text entry, it would save so much time for everyone. Please consider adding this tool!

New Member

I would like it if students can submit a typed assignment in a textbox, and that I as a teacher would have the ability to type differently-colored comments directly into their document for feedback.

New Member

Although I do not teach ESL, I have experienced many native speakers in my English classes having problems loading up their papers to submit them electronically, often because they are using devices that are older. This then means I will have to go through digital acrobatics to annotate their papers for revision before returning them. It's a time-consuming process, but it shouldn't be.

Please program Canvas text entry to accept instructor annotations so that students can easily revise papers and instructors can easily annotate or offer comments on a final graded edition of a paper.

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 -

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 -  

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 

New Member

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

New Member

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.

New 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!

New Member
New Member

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.  

New Member

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 

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 Member

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.

New 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)