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Last name, first name as separate cells

Last name, first name as separate cells

(5)
This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

I've just used my exported gradebook to determine the grade distribution for a 150-student class. To determine the distribution I sorted the data in order from highest to lowest final score, and then went back to alphabetize the data so I could submit the grades ... only to realize that the student names are (first name last name) in the same cell. This means I have to alphabetize *manually*.

 

This is terrible database design. Why isn't the last name in as a separate cell to enable automatic alphabetizing? Is there a workaround in the short run? Not that it will help me today as I enter my grades, but ... And the ability in Canvas to search on a student name is a poor substitute for sensible database design.

72 Comments
biray
Community Champion

Thank you for your idea submission,  @lkiesling ​. This idea will be up for vote during the next voting period.

In the meantime, here was a similar idea (which was archived) where the conversation thread might be valuable:

biray
Community Champion

This idea has moved to the next stage and will be open for voting among the Canvas Community, from Wed. January 6, 2016 - Wed. April 6, 2016.

Check out this doc for additional details about how the voting process works!

susan_callaway
Community Member

I voted up, but didn't see a "save" button, which usually has to be done in Canvas.  Hope my voted was recorded.  Thank you!

jbrady2
Community Champion

Just to let everyone know before they follow the link to the archived feature idea above, the only comments in the thread have to do with it being opened for voting. Just thought I would save everyone a minute or two of their time.

jbrady2
Community Champion

I believe this is already possible unless I am missing some nuance to how exactly you want to use this feature. Within the course Settings, under Feature Options,  I have a toggle to turn on Gradebook - List Students by Sortable Name. This changes the student listing to lastname first. When I export the gradebook, the names stayed this way, so now I can sort alphabetically by lastname.

James
Community Champion

 @lkiesling ​,

I think everyone has gotten wrapped up in the two-field issue and missed the fact that your reasoning for wanting the two fields is a non-issue.

You do not have to have your gradebook sorted in alphabetical order before you import the grades back into Canvas. I just verified this behavior in my test course.

So, I guess the work-around is that there isn't one needed.

That said, to follow up on what  @jbrady2  said, there is a feature to allow sortable names in the gradebook. While he has the option to turn it on or off, our institution has turned it on for everyone.

This is found under the Managed Accounts (for Canvas Admins) for your institution and then Settings > Feature Options

167404_pastedImage_3.png

As you can see, our institution has it turned on for everyone and so when I go into my course Settings and choose Feature Options, it looks like this:

167406_pastedImage_5.png

However, if the Managed Account settings is set to Allow, then you can go into the Settings > Feature Options for your course and choose to enable it. This is what Jeffrey was referring to.

167405_pastedImage_4.png

If your Canvas Admin has it turned off, then you will see this and you should ask your Canvas Admin to turn it on.

167407_pastedImage_6.png

If you don't see the option at all when you go to your course Settings > Feature Options, then your institution hasn't enabled this feature. I don't mess with this part myself to know for certainty, but I think the Canvas Admin needs to contact their Customer Success Manager to get it turned on.

luksc
Community Member

Two fields are required in order to use certain non-Canvas tools with our classes (CATME is the one that I use regularly).  I cannot download the class list and use it to build my database for CATME.  I can work around this, but it usually takes 30+ minutes to do on a class of 60 students.  Since Canvas can do the Sortable names, it clearly *knows* the information that we want.  It would be very helpful if we could have the option of using 2 fields for names.

John_Lowe
Community Champion

Thank you, Christi.  I do not understand why these discussions are so focused on the reasons why and work-arounds for a request.  I wish people could make a request without having others second guess the original author.  Thank you for providing a reason so that we can move on with the original request.

John_Lowe
Community Champion

Is it a non-issue because you say it is a non-issue or because it is actually a non-issue to the original author?  To me, it looks like an issue.

Is allowing someone the option of downloading the names in two columns going to adversely impact or otherwise hurt you?  If so, discuss that.

jbrady2
Community Champion

 @John_Lowe ​ I can understand your frustration with how the voting process appears to work, or not, sometimes. However if I am not experiencing an issue in Canvas that I think the suggested Feature Idea will correct then I will usually pass that idea by without ever voting on it, but if the individual who took the time to suggest the idea also includes enough information that I can then see how it might be an issue I, or a faculty member I provide support for, could encounter at some point then I am willing to support the idea and up-vote it.

I have felt similar frustration when I have seen individuals in the community down-vote an idea, but then not post a comment explaining why. I have to wonder if the individual was just being obtuse that day or did they have a legitimate reason for doing that?

My institution having just migrated to Canvas from what I considered an overly bloated LMS full of too many features that the majority of faculty did not use, I do not want to see Canvas become that, so without further explanation including possible examples of why a feature could be beneficial, for my own part, I usually just ignore a Feature Idea.

Given further details, even after my comments in my previous post, I up-voted this feature.

jbuchner
Community Contributor

Another solution that can be done by on the user end:

1. Download the grade book as .csv

2. Open in excel

3. Under the data dropdown menu, or in the ribbon, there's a text to columns option.

4. There by following the prompts, you can convert the text to two columns, if you make the delineator a comma.

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

Great work around!

pwalsh
Community Participant

Given that the names are available in Canvas, ideally you could get them formatted the way you want rather than having to figure out a work around. I use many different systems, most of them keyed off of or sorted by last name. Learning a process for getting around the output name sort is doable, but not for the average person in my building. I work with a lot of teachers who don't work with technology any more than they have to. If we could get the names last name first that would save a lot of pain all around.

jbrady2
Community Champion

 @pwalsh ​ You make a great point, one that I must admit I often overlook due to my technical abilities. Technology should not get in the way of the teaching/learning process, and instructors should not have to be well versed in the finer points of technology workarounds in order to accomplish their jobs. Technology should ideally be practically invisible to instructors and students if it is working correctly and allowing them to accomplish their tasks unhindered.

In my role, I also work with some instructors who are not savvy with technology, but the institution would like for them to use the technology. I attempt to support the instructors as much as I can, but I am only one person. Also, when working with instructors, I try not to push them into using technology in a way, including workarounds, that they then cannot possibly fix, or find an easy fix for, if they do have a future issue when I am not available. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, so, sometime, I have to inform instructors that, in order to accomplish what they want, they will either have to learn how to apply the workaround so that they know how to fix issues if I am not available, or they will have to leave that aspect of their teaching out of their course; neither of which is an adequate solution.

jbuchner
Community Contributor

Anyone following this thread know what happened to the other .csv and names issue with the quizzes? That is, when you download the student responses for quizzes, they are in a cell with their first and last names in that order.

mdurler
Community Participant

Definitely want.  I am SO tired of having to parse the family name and given name each time I download to Excel.  Why would ANY developer ever use a single name field and then alphabetize on first name to begin with?

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @mdurler ​

Actually, in the Canvas grade book student names are displayed alphabetically by last name even though they are listed by first name.

However, that still does not excuse the original set up that gives one field for first and last names, and this design error is  consistent all through Canvas. I have been designing relational data bases since the late '80s, and first and last names (and middle names or initials) should all have their own fields. Yes, these fields can be combined into one field for the purpose of displaying in a report (page, whatever), but they should be stored in the data base in separate fields.

KLM

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team
  Idea is currently in Product Radar Learn more about this stage...
mdurler
Community Participant

The excuse Instructure continues to give about this being complicated says more about their flawed design that about a difficulty in accommodating what should be a simple fix. 

A work around is to do this in your downloaded spreadsheet. 

  1. insert two new columns next to the name.  Since the name is in column A, insert B and C
  2. for the first name, in cell B3 use the formula =LEFT(A3,FIND(" ",A3))
  3. for the last name, in cell C3 use the formula =RIGHT(A3,LEN(A3)-FIND(" ",A3))
  4. copy cells B3 and C3 down the rest of the list of names.  You now have the first and last names in separate cells and can realphabatize on last name.  I usually also do a copy, past values to lock in the names once they are parsed out

This works fine on most names.  If you have a student with extra spaces in their name you may have to still manually fix their name.

mdurler
Community Participant

Not in the download