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Community Member

How do students view feedback within a document attached to a discussion?

I have an instructor who created a journal assignment using discussions (one person / group).  That part is working swell.  Her students have been attaching word documents to the discussions.  The instructor is able to go into SpeedGrader, open the word document in the viewfinder, and use the annotations on the word document attached to the discussion.  The problem is, the students aren't able to access her feedback within the word document.  When they go to the Grades page, and open the assignment, they do not have a "View Feedback" option--they merely have the discussion threads.  Any ideas of how students can access the feedback?

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Community Member

Hi  @emily_morgan ‌- Your faculty member certain gets some originality points!  I have to say that I never even realized that using the SpeedGrader/DocViewer function with Discussion attachments was even a possibility!  And indeed, when I played around with your scenario a bit today, I had to look and click a bit to figure out how the instructor even got there.

The bottom line, so far as I can tell, is there no way for the student to access these type of inline comments/annotations, unlike when they are in traditional file upload-type of assignments.  The instructor may be forced to save the commented version as a PDF and send it back to her students that way.  To be fair to Canvas, the attached file does not open up in the DocViewer within SpeedGrader automatically like a usual assignment file attachment would.  Instead, the instructor would have had to click over on the far right under the Submitted Files area (which, to be sure, does indeed indicate "Click to load" right next to that).  I tried leaving comments for a sample student to retrieve, but unfortunately I could only verify that I could not see a way for students to access these embedded comments like they can for an assignment.

You may very well want to submit a ticket to Canvas Support about this.  One reason is to possibly patch up the ability for a faculty to even do this unless there is indeed some secret method of students getting to the files that I can't think of.  But as I said, for now it appears the best solution will be to save the DocViewer file for the student as a PDF.

There have been a few discussions in the past about how to handle journal-type assignments.  One is here (How Can I Create a Daily Journal Entry Assignment ) and other here ( ) where the suggested solution is, indeed, to use student groups as your faculty member is doing.  Also, now that assignments can be copied in Canvas, perhaps just a weekly assignment would work just as well in this case.

Thank you for confirming my suspicions,  @kblack .  I was quite surprised that there was this loophole, too.  Your suggestion of saving the DocViewer file as a PDF is one I hadn't thought of--thank you!  I will also bring this up with our LMS admin to take to Canvas Support as you have suggested so as to save some other creative faculty member headaches in the future.  Thanks, again.

Late-breaking news,  @emily_morgan ‌!  By sheer coincidence, I read of the bug fixes on this upcoming weekend's Production Release Notes, and it appears that instructors will no longer be able to perform that "trick" after this weekend:


Graded Discussion Attachments and DocViewer

Instructors cannot use DocViewer to annotate graded discussion attachments.


Explanation: When a student uploaded a file as an attachment to a graded discussion, and the instructor viewed the submission in SpeedGrader, the instructor was able to view the attachment and create annotations in the attachment. However, the student was unable to view the feedback from the instructor as part of the attachment. Canvas code has been updated to disable annotations for graded discussion attachments.

A special thanks to erinhallmark‌ for posting a reply to an earlier Feature Idea that I happened to be following for pointing this out!

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Community Coach

 @emily_morgan ,

Were you able to find an answer to your question? I am going to go ahead and mark this question as answered because there hasn't been any more activity in a while so I assume that you have the information that you need. If you still have a question about this or if you have information that you would like to share with the community, by all means, please do come back and leave a comment.  Also, if this question has been answered by one of the previous replies, please feel free to mark that answer as correct.