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How does an instructor upload scanned submissions for an assignment and then grade them digitally in canvas?

How does an instructor upload scanned submissions for an assignment and then grade them digitally in canvas?

Use case:

I have collected paper submissions of assignments from students. I have scanned the submissions into several .pdf files. Then I .zip them.

There appears to be a way to (re)upload submissions: 

but in my canvas assignments there is no button to "upload submissions" 

What am I missing?

This seems like it would be a no-brainier piece of functionality for Canvas. The online grading tools are very slick but as always the hardest thing to do in Canvas is file-management (in this case, just getting a file into Canvas). Why have all the slick digital grading tools if you can't use them?



6 Replies
Adventurer III

Hello Will,

What you're missing is that there is no option for you to upload and submit a paper on behalf of a student.  The student must first upload the paper for themselves, in order to create the "attempt".

The "download papers" > "re-upload papers" process is for instructors to download all the papers that the students have submitted online through Canvas, then make whatever comments/annotations/corrections they want, and uploaded the annotated versions back into Canvas.  Canvas then matches the re-uploaded files with the files that the students originally submitted.  (That's why the page says that you should keep the file names the same, so that Canvas knows which student attempt it belongs to...)


If I were teaching a composition class I suppose student submission of papers would be a fine way of doing things.

I am teaching a Math course where such a submission mode can’t be done. We have timed paper exams that we must collect in class. If they are to be digitized, we do that ourselves.

Is there any chance that such a instructor-based submission mode will be developed? It seems that this is very important as most STEM courses require timed exams that must be given via paper-pencil. We’re a whole other half of any university and yet we have no access so much of the digital automation of grading. Canvas right now, for most Math and Science classes, is a communication tool and a manual-entry spreadsheet, but it could be so much more with only a little work.



Hi Will,

What is the purpose of digitizing and uploading the paper tests, rather than simply entering the grades into Canvas?

Canvas is always changing in response to user requests, and there have been other instructors who have requested the feature that you are asking about, to be able to upload/submit files on behalf of their students.  You can vote and provide feedback on that suggestion at 


Hi Mike,

The speed grader tool you have built would allow for very fast grading of assignments once they are scanned because there are hot-keys and built-in rubrics that would aid in ensuring scoring is uniform and accurate. If a rubric needed to be changed midway it could back calculate all previous work. Paging though assignments would be as easy as hitting an arrow key. And scanning is an easy job for the big printer/scaners we have. Students would also be able to read and respond to feedback without dealing with paper test (or the risk of loosing it). Scores on individual items of the exam could be analyzed better as well.

But you’re right I could make assignments for each exam question and use the speed grader, but I’d still be rifling through stacks of papers which is precisely the thing that makes grading so slow. Grade input on the gradebook is painfully slow and would benefit from this sort of automation.

Again, much of the work we have to do for a huge fraction of any university is still on paper and is not accessible to all the automation tools you’ve built within canvas because we can't upload the files.


Hi Will,

Most of the people posting in this forum (myself included) are Canvas users from different schools, so "we" didn't build the Canvas tools.  However, as I said, Canvas is pretty responsive to customer input, and if there are lots of users who are seeing the same need as you do, hopefully they will vote on one or more of the suggestions.


Community Coach
Community Coach

 @nesse ,

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.