Submit an assignment on behalf of a student

Idea is currently in development

As an instructor, I'd like the option to submit assignments on behalf of my students. This feature should enable me to pick a file from my computer and upload it as a submission for a given student. I should then be able to assess the submission just as if the student had submitted it themselves. A note should appear somewhere that indicates I submitted the assignment on behalf of my student. This would help me in cases where, for instance, my students submit an assignment on paper or the submission is a performance (a speech or presentation) that I capture on video.

transferred from the old Community

Originally posted by: Bill Hanna
Special thanks for contributions by: Paul Gibbons, Sydney Cheek-O'Donnell, Kona Jones, Stefanie Sanders

Community Participant

I second (or third - or 322nd!) the 16 pages of comments on this topic made by professional educators over the years, many (including me) more than once.

If Instructure is not going to implement this feature, they should explain why.  I think it's a perfectly reasonable request, especially in light of what has happened since COVID.

We need a response on this, please!

New Member

Adding to the request, in this case, paper-based exams that are stored as assignment images on Canvas, some students are unable to upload it: I have to scan them, send the images to students and have them uploaded into Canvas. I could do it in minutes.

New Member

Why is this not a thing?  This would be useful for e.g. uploading scans of exam scripts or transferring in files that are collated by the educator.

Community Participant

I already added my request to this a while ago, but wanted to add extra info.

  1. We can already batch-download but no upload
  2. We're not asking for batch uploads
  3. I'm sure teachers would be happy even if it was format limited (i.e. limited to PDF or image format uploads) or even title limited (had to be named a specific way)
  4. After this much time I'm sure teachers would even accept some way to access the student account to submit it for them without needing to have their individual password!



What this thread by itself is telling everyone is that users ideas mean nothing.

While the request in this thread may not be a huge problem for college / university instructors or professors, there is no way that any secondary (or elementary) user that access this Community network will not have this question & request. It has directly impacted almost every ELL / ESL and Special Education student I have worked with, and many of them I end up having to accept the work by email and then enter a grade for which has ho internal evidence except my own typed note as to why I issued the grade I did.

This one addition by itself would allow the product to market this option as a means to help teachers of SPED & ELL students meet appropriate modifications & accommodations.

Not addressing this with at least an excuse tells each reader that every other idea in the product roadmap will come only from the developers and we shouldn't bother writing anything up because they will be ignored, even if we are helping them brainstorm improvements that would help sell their product.

New Member

So a 7 year old idea - and still not implemented ? What's the point in asking and this community if Canvas developers just ignore it ?

New Member

This would be so fantastic.  Seems like such a small simple ask.

New Member

When I search for a feature that I need and then read a forum thread such as this one it seems as if Instructure is truly tone deaf to its customers.  How is it a feature request has been around since 2015 with hundreds of requests and no response has been provided by the company.  It is disrespectful to ignore and disregard the community.  Instructure can do better, I hope.

New Member

Today I sent this comment directly to Instructure customer service:

Since 2015, hundreds of Canvas customers have begged for a vital feature to be added to Canvas: The ability for faculty to upload assignments for students who are unable to do so.

This is both an issue of handicapped accessibility to Canvas, and of good teaching practices. So far, not a peep for anyone at Instructure regarding the feature.

You can see the comments here:

Please alert Instructure's strategic development team that the lack of this feature is a serious impediment to the use of Canvas in classrooms where handicapped students are enrolled.

Enough is enough -- fix this, now.

New Member

Yes, this is useful for students who email assignments


Hi All, 

Thank you for sharing your feedback on this idea. I know that other Instructure Product Managers have commented in the past, and unfortunately priorities shifted. As an educator myself, I can understand the reasons for the request and also the apprehension from a few in this thread, specifically around ensuring that it is documented when an assignment is uploaded by the teacher/instructor on behalf of the student. 

I am looking to move this idea forward and will work with our awesome designers to create a prototype and then scope the work with our engineering team. This may seem like a small change, but there is much that will need to be considered to ensure it works as expected and also does not interact adversely with many places in Canvas beyond just the submissions and gradebook, such as SpeedGrader, modules (especially those with requirements), etc. 

I'll update with additional information as we make progress with the prototype and the technical planning. 

New Member

Thank you for taking this on!

I'm afraid I'm the troublemaker who took this to the corporate boardroom of Instructure and the IT moguls at California State University last week. I have several students whose university experience will greatly improve once this project hits Canvas.

I appreciate that this means shifting a few other deserving projects, but (to me, at least) this is a front-line issue, affecting the ability of some of my students to fully take advantage of Canvas while they are here at Cal State Fullerton. It will also improve my own ability to fully use Canvas's features in a secure way for every student.

I hope that the result is functionality that Instructure can also use to advantage when you are courting prospective customers.

Again, many thanks!

--- Walt

Community Participant

Thank you both!

As wbaranger mentioned, this is actually an educational equity issue for a number of students:

  • Students with federally protected Individualized Education Program (sometimes referred to as Individualized Education Plans or IEPs),
  • Students classified as English Language Learners or Emergent Bilinguals (students who often resulting from the choice of a family member are now trying to learn grade-level content while also learning what is to them a foreign language), and
  • Students living in poverty, experiencing homelessness, or who simply have limited technology access away from school. 

Canvas represents an opportunity for many of these students to begin to address the digital educational divide, but only if they do not create the perception that they are being left behind their privileged classmates resulting them in giving up.


I think this is a critical enough issue that the community will understand if its rollout comes in steps. 

For me, I would personally not be worried about the system's ability to document who posted it as a roll-out requirement if that slows down the implementation. While I do understand the long-term need for that information, working good soon is better than working perfect later. 

Community Participant

Thank you very much @jsailor for taking this idea on. Our institution has recently transitioned from Blackboard to Canvas and as a member of the LMS Support team for the institution it has become increasingly disappointing having to inform academics that we can no longer upload assignments on behalf of students.

Please do keep us updated as the work progresses - I for one have bookmarked the thread and will be keeping a close eye on it in anticipation.

New Member

Fully support this. Hard to see why it hasn't been done already.

New Member

has this gone into development yet???

New Member

This would be extremely helpful at the elementary level as well. Thank you for posting this idea!

Community Participant

This has been under discussion since 2015 and still no action on it???  Placating us by giving us a place to "discuss" things and then ignoring what we've taken the time to share our ideas is the definition of disingenuousness.  

I would love to chat with the person that suckered my university into buying this LMS.  It's a good thing we don't teach the way you all do business.

University of Washington


Community Participant

This is a huge barrier for ELL, McKinney-Vento (i.e. students with insecure homes), or technology limited students as well as students with IEPs ... and even more so if these are combined. It is a simple accessibility issue making use of this product a barrier for the most underserved students that the teacher could help accommodate to but currently has very limited ability to document what the student did other than adding a comment that it was turned in ... not much evidence in that.

New Member

I don't understand why this wasn't already done. You have to figure students are going to occasionally have problems uploading items or not follow instructions. I'm in a summer class and don't have time to wait for students to re-submit work or struggle with uploads. Common sense apparently is not prevailing here.

New Member

I am so surprised that this very well-engineered and designed program is missing this very useful and oft-requested feature.

Without being able to upload late assignments for my student, I have to force a student to go to the library to upload their assignments to Canvas because their laptop is too old.

Or I oblige them to get a new laptop.

Or I accept their assignments via email with no record on Canvas and no ability to annotate unless it's through MS Word.

Edit: I'm shocked and saddened that this conversation was originally started in 2015. I went back a few comments.

Can Canvas put some engineers on this and make it happen please?