Post Policy Updates Feedback

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Thanks for your feedback! We've made several improvements in the last few Canvas releases that are now in your production environment. For further questions, feel free to visit https://community.canvaslms.com/groups/focus-group-gradebook 

 

Hey everyone, 

We're grateful for all of the feedback we've received on Post Policies. The team has been working hard to address the most pressing issues and we've released several bug fixes over the last few weeks. And there's more work to come. To that end, we're looking for feedback on some proposed changes to Post Policy. Our goal with these changes is to make the feature more intuitive and reduce confusion. We also do not want these changes feel too disruptive to people who have already been using Post Policies. And we're anxious to get feedback on if we're heading in the right direction. 

Ok, let's get into it. 

1 - Updated Iconography 

The first proposed change is to the icons that we're using. Our goal here is to make the icons more streamlined between Gradebook and SpeedGrader, while still providing users the information that they need. 

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the new Post Policy feature, in New Gradebook you’re now able to set the policy for a course or an individual assignment that governs if grades are made available to students immediately as they are entered or if they are hidden until explicitly posted by the teacher. An assignment that has grades hidden by default has a “manual” policy, while the default behavior that makes grades available immediately to students is called an “automatic” policy. 

After grades are entered for students using an automatic post policy, they can be hidden if necessary; any new entered grades or changed grades are identified as being hidden (automatic hidden status). When using a manual policy, new entered grades or changed grades are also identified as being hidden (manual hidden status). Hidden grades must be posted before they can be made available to students.

This is what the new icon chart looks like:

322333_pastedImage_2.png

Here’s a mockup of what the icons would look like in Gradebook headers:

322332_pastedImage_1.png

Let me talk through the changes. First, you’ll notice that we’ve added a dot to the eye icon. We believe that most of the confusion around the eye icon has come from us trying to convey two different bits of information in a single icon. By using the eye icon to indicate the post policy for the assignment and a dot to indicate if there are grades actively being hidden, we hope to remove ambiguity and make the icon much more intuitive. The crossed out icon always indicates a “manual” post policy, while the dot will always indicate that a grade is hidden. We’ll also be updating the color of the badge in the individual cells to match the blue you see in the mockup. If an institution uses a custom color scheme, the badge will take the primary color.  

We’ve streamlined the icon between Gradebook and Speedgrader to make its meaning more consistent. In both places you’ll be able to see not only the post policy for the assignment, but also if there are grades that are ready to be posted to students. 

We’ve also changed the icon in the total column to more closely match what we’re trying to convey there, which is the total score includes at least one score that is hidden from the students. 

2 - Simplify posting to automatic assignments 

We’re proposing getting rid of the "Graded" option when posting to automatic assignments. If the assignment is set to post grades automatically, any posting that happens will have the same result if you post to everyone or graded. Since those two actions yield the same results, we can get rid of one of them to reduce any confusion.

3 - Posting to “everyone” sets policy to Automatic

When posting grades to everyone on a manual assignment, we're proposing also changing the policy for that assignment to automatic. This will get rid of the manual icon in the header and feels more in line with what users expect that action to do. We’ve added some wording to the post description to inform users that the policy will be changed:

322334_pastedImage_3.png

We will also updated the confirmation alert with similar language. Post to a specific section or only to students that have been graded will not change the policy to automatic. 

We’re hopeful that these changes reduce confusion and make this feature even easier to use. Let us know what you think in the comments!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

UPDATE September 4th

Wow! Thanks for all the feedback. We’re so lucky to have such a passionate community of users and we genuinely appreciate everyone taking the time to chime in. 

 

While most of the comments so far have focused on the icons, it does sound like we’re on the right track with #2 and #3 mentioned above. Watch the release notes to see #2 and #3 be implemented in a future release. We’re excited about these changes!

I wanted to take a minute to give a bit more context for the icon proposal that we made and talk through some of our thinking. We’re proposing 2 icons for Post Policy. 

Eye Icon

First, an “eye” icon. This will most often appear with a slash through it and will indicate when an assignment has a manual policy, which means grades and comments are hidden from students until they are explicitly made available. As has been pointed out, an eye with a slash through it conveys something not being visible. We agree. The eye is meant to convey to faculty that the grades for an assignment will not be visible to students as they are entered.

It has been suggested that a different icon be used to indicate the policy on an assignment. This is certainly a possibility. However, no matter what icon we use, there will need to be some learning for faculty initially. We feel like the slashed eye icon does convey that grades entered for that assignment will be hidden from students. 

Dot Badge

The second icon is a colored badge. As has been mentioned in the comments, this is used elsewhere in Canvas to denote when something needs the user’s attention or when something new has happened. In a similar way, the dot here is meant to let the instructor know that something is requiring their action. There are grades that are ready to be posted as soon as the faculty is ready to make them available to students. If they post all of the grades that have been entered the dot disappears, and reappears when there are more grades that need to be made available to students. The blue dot in the header will also have consistency with the individual cells in the gradebook, as well as the hidden count in the tray.

UI Help

One common suggestion has been that we provide an easy way for users who are unsure of what the icons denote to learn more beyond the user guides. We’re exploring repurposing the current keyboard shortcuts model to be a more general “help” section. We could then include a key to these icons (as well as the keyboard shortcuts) directly in the UI.

 

Here’s a different view of the icon table above: 

323100_pastedImage_1.png

Thanks for your thoughts!

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

UPDATE September 9th

Hey everyone! 

 

Back with another update. First off, let me say one more time how grateful we are for everyone who takes the time to share their thoughts and feedback with us. We’ve been reading and discussing every single comment. 

 

It’s clear that using the eyeball icon to convey the policy state is confusing. It’s also clear that it will be the most intuitive to have two totally distinct and independent representations of the policy and the current visibility state of submissions. With this feedback in mind, we’ve got a new proposal that we hope will address many of your concerns. 

 

First, we’re proposing that we use the eyeball with a slash through it to indicate that there are graded submissions that are hidden from students. It will only appear in the gradebook header if there are grades/comments currently hidden from students for a given assignment. 

 

Second, we’re proposing displaying manual post policy status where muted status used to be conveyed - right below the assignment title. This will put it front and center for instructors and remove any ambiguity associated with a new icon. Additionally, this placement will feel familiar to users who used mute functionality in the past. 

 

Here’s an example of what 2 assignments would look like, both with manual policies. The first doesn't have any graded submissions that are currently being hidden from students, while the second one does.


323661_pastedImage_1.png

We will only show the policy state if it has been set to manual. Similarly, we only show the eyeball if there are graded submissions that are hidden from students.  

 

Let us know what you think in the comments! 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

UPDATE September 18th

Hello Everyone! 

 

I’m back with another update. As is always the case with this awesome community, we’ve been yet again privileged to receive so much great feedback on my previous update. We spend a lot of time reading and discussing each comment. Thank you for the time you take to engage with us and share your thoughts. 

 

Let me also take a moment to say thank you for your patience as we take in and process feedback and put a plan in place to more forward. We think the worst thing to do here would be to introduce changes that end up needing to be changed again down the road. We want to make sure we’re moving forward in a positive direction, and that admins can confidently train their faculty knowing that we won’t be ripping changes out in a few weeks.

 

OK - let’s get into it. 

 

Icons

 

Based on the feedback we’ve received it sounds like the most recent proposal is a step in the right direction. Whenever grades are hidden from students the eye with a slash will be present in the header. A manual policy will be indicated by the word Manual in the header. The slashed eye in the Total Column will remain and will be visible whenever the total score for that student includes one or more grades that are hidden from them. The “Hidden” pill will still be used in SpeedGrader to indicate a grade that is hidden from students. Watch the release notes for this to be released in the near future.

 

Goals

 

There have been questions about why this change was made in the first place. Some have indicated that mute/unmute worked well for them. We appreciate this perspective. I wanted to take a moment to share some of our thinking that went into this project and what our goals were. 

 

There were three main goals with this project:

 

1 - We wanted to make it easier for teachers to manage grade visibility preferences across an entire course. In the world of Mute/Unmute this had to be done for every assignment, one by one. With Post Policies we hoped to make it simple and quick to set something course-wide that would hide grades from students as they were entered. This can be done with a course level post policy. 

 

2 - We wanted to give teachers more flexibility around how they release grades. Mute/Unmute was all-or-nothing for an assignment. In order to give additional flexibility, we needed to separate the default behavior for grades that are entered from the current visibility to students. For example, I might want to post grades to section A before I’ve graded (or even received) submissions from section B. Even though grades are now visible for section A, I still need grades to be hidden by default as they’re entered for section B. This can be done by setting a post policy for an assignment (or course as mentioned above) and then posting grades to a subset of my class. 

 

3 - We wanted to create more intuitive language and iconography. As has been expressed in the comments here, the term “mute” can be offensive to some. Additionally, it does not translate well across all of the languages we support. On the icon front - the bell icon seemed ill-suited for what it was conveying. Now, as the bulk of this discussion attests, we missed the mark here with our initial release. We’re excited to be making improvements to the icons and taking a step forward in hitting this goal. 

 

Perspective

 

Now, if I may, I’d like to say something about perspective. Each institution has different practices and feature needs. It can be tempting to look at a feature through the lens of one’s own needs only. Let me give 2 examples from this project. 

 

First - There have been some comments suggesting that the policy state on assignments does not need to be indicated. This is actually how our initial designs were set up. The only thing that was readily visible to teachers in the gradebook was the current visibility of grades. In those early designs a teacher needed to open the Post Policy tray in order to see the policy status. However, in our user testing we received universal feedback that the policy state was critical for teachers to see. As they enter the first grade for an assignment, it needs to be very clear whether that grade would be visible to students or not. Based on the prevalence of this feedback we adjusted our designs to make the policy state visible in the gradebook. 

 

Second - Some have suggested that an all-or-nothing approach to posting grades is sufficient and that adding more granularity only creates unnecessary complexity to a formerly simple feature. It is true that posting grades now requires a few more clicks. It is also true that there are now 2 pieces to this feature instead of one. However, the desire to have more control over whose grades are released is a request we’ve heard repeatedly. Since releasing Post Policy we’ve received positive feedback from institutions who welcome this added flexibility. And there are some who would like even more. The Post Policy work sets us up to offer more granularity in the future, like posting/hiding for an individual student.  

 

Our overarching goal is always to deliver features that are flexible enough to cover the vast array of needs, while still being easy to use and understand. It’s a hard line to walk and we obviously don’t always hit the bullseye. Sometimes features aren’t flexible enough, other times they are overly complex. We’re always looking to adjust as we get feedback.

 

Thank you again for all your input. Have a great day!

214 Comments
Navigator

Jon, 

Thank you so much for this detailed blog! I know I'm excited to see how you (and your team) make this cool tool cooler!

I know you've been reading ideas our users shared, so I wanted to make sure that readers of this post also know they're out there (and we're watching them too!)

https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/14598-visibility-icons 

https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/14734-automatic-post-policy-posting-grades-for-everyone-automa... 

Looking forward to the conversation here!

Community Member

Still seems unneccessarily confusing and strange ... everyone understands "hidden" and "showing" (even muted and unmuted). There are too many terms here between the new "policy" terms (automatic/manual) and grade visibility status (hidden/ no opposite is given) .. frankly all we need is hidden/not hidden with a SIMPLE one click switch and ONE icon.

Explorer III

Howdy jfenton@instructure.com‌,

Thanks for the write-up! I especially like your third point where posting grades to every turns the column to automatic; it is what we've been doing manually here to hide "the eye."

Sky V.

Community Member

Thank you for continuing to improve this feature, and for the detailed explanation of the iconography changes. This definitely does seem more intuitive to me.

I'd like to suggest that you include an option in SpeedGrader to change the posting policy for the assignment just like you can do from the Grades page. That would definitely help our instructors who may not think they want to have the grades hidden at first, so they leave the posting policy to automatic. However, when they get into SpeedGrader to begin grading they decide to have grades hidden. As it is now, you cannot "hide" grades or change the posting policy from within SpeedGrader (unless you have graded one submission). That means it is rather clunky because they have to go into Grades to change the policy and then go back into SpeedGrader to grade.

Community Member

I still find this all very confusing. There's eyeballs and dots and slashes, and it still isn't very intuitive. I think the Automatic Hidden icon is particularly problematic. Looking at that, I would expect that students should be able to see their grades since the eyeball is not crossed out, but if I understand correctly, the dot means that some students have hidden grades, correct? Even the manual policy, with the crossed-out eye would make me think that students cannot see grades, with or without the badge. Maybe use a different icon to show that a policy is in place? I think the eyeball icons read as a status indicator for the entire assignment. 

Community Member

There is one change that I would recommend making: if an assignment is set to be hidden, such as automatic hidden, the icon should indicate that it is hidden.The icons on automatic hidden above tell me that the grades are available, not hidden.

Any updates to help the new post/hide grades "features" function better and be more intuitive would be great, and I think points 2 & 3 are a step in the right direction. I have never seen an update to an LMS be more confusing for faculty, let alone our instructional design team, as I have with the post/hide grades "features". I hope the focus moving forward is to make Canvas more intuitive for teachers so they can continue to focus on what is important - teaching.

Surveyor

I am still confused with the automatically hidden icon. Why does the eye not have a slash through it? At first glance I don't really know if grades are posted or not which will lead to instructor confusion. 

Community Member

I like the idea of using a dot in place of the shading to indicate that a grade is hidden.

As others have pointed out, adding eyeballs with and without slashes to indicate there is an automatic or manual policy in place is confusing.  Having to know that an eyeball without a slash and with a blue dot actually means the grade is being automatically hidden and is indeed hidden...that's not intuitive. 

I recommend staying with the eyeball with a slash to show a policy (manual or automatic) is in place that will result in grades being hidden and use the blue dot to show grades are currently recorded and hidden (i.e. need to be posted) OR adopt a different icon to distinguish between a manual policy and an automatic policy.

Learner II

I appreciate the table outlining the various icons.

I am curious why, when an automatic policy assignment is hidden after the fact (active eye+dot) it isn't just changed to a manual policy assignment (inactive eye). Is your purpose to convey that there was a time when students could have seen their grade?

Also, I've seen shaded eye vs. non-shaded eye, and the dots seeming to represent which grades were going to be posted. Are these behaviors changing and being replaced with what you describe above?

Community Member

I agree with most of the previous posts.  This has been confusing.  We typically do not post grades for some and not others so having some grades hidden vs others not is confusing.  I had run into an issue where grades were set to automatic at first and some grades were entered, then the policy was changed to manual.  When additional grades were added the system took the policy of automatic and posted the new grades.  Not sure if that is still the way it is setup.  How will this look when you do a regrade?

Community Member

I'm not sure of the ultimate solution, but I find the upcoming different meanings of the slashed eyeball icon in Canvas to be confusing.  For menu items, that icon is going to mean the menu is hidden from students.  In gradebook/speedgrader it means there is a manual posting policy and really means nothing about hidden.

When I see the slashed eyeball, I personally think of it as meaning hidden/not visible.  I don't think it's a great choice to convey "manual policy".

Maybe we need two different icons rather than trying to convey all the different possibilities with a single icon.  Have the eyeball icon show for things with hidden grades (to the right of the title to match whats happening with the menu, and no icon if all grades are visible).  Have a separate icon to convey manual posting policy when that's enabled (maybe something like a manual gearbox icon).  

My hastily made idea mockup (the manual icon would need work to be readable, I just did this quickly):

322346_pastedImage_3.png

-Chris

Community Member

Couldn't agree more Karla. The post policy just needs to go, we don't need another layer of confusion for faculty. They just want to teach English or Chemistry.

Karen

Community Member

The total column now looks like below with unposted scores. Does the eye get replaced with the blue dot or does it show up in the column header?

322342_Capture.JPG

Surveyor

I still don't get what if fully happening here but at this stage don't need this feature. However if we did, Chris's simple chart does make more sense. 

Community Member
The crossed out icon always indicates a “manual” post policy, while the dot will always indicate that a grade is hidden.

So, my Teachers are going to see a "crossed out eye" and no matter what, think that means that the grades are hidden. They are going to see it as if it's a circle with a diagonal line through it, as in "not" --not visible.

Community Member

I agree with Susan- this is counter-intuitive for users.

Community Member

I think having eye and crossed out eye to indicate whether or not grades are hidden (basically the current blue dot, and you really only need to indicate when the grades are hidden) would be best. To indicate manual vs. automatic posting rule why don't we just use some kind of stylized (in box or in circle) M or A?

To have the eye indicate grade posting policy instead of whether the grade is actually hidden or posted seems...bizarre.

Community Member

I agree with this as well. An eye to me = visible/posted and a crossed out eye = not visible/posted.

It would make more sense to me to use the blue dot as an indicator as to whether the policy is automatic or manual instead of indicating visibility. The eye should communicate visibility. 

Surveyor

As other's have noted, the Updated Iconography needs more work.

The standard design convention (and what users expect) is "eye = visible" and "crossed eye = hidden." This should remain consistent regardless of posting policy.

Some other indicator can be used else to distinguish manual vs. automatic posting policy, such as the manual gearbox chriscas‌ suggested, or dots, or simply the letters M or A.

Community Member

Adding to the general thread that these icons are really confusing. Many of our instructors don't yet use the automatic posting policies, but they all still want to use the beloved mute/unmute feature. The suggestion of iconography above not only isn't intuitive to what each icon represents, but also will essentially take the icon that used to mean "manual hidden" and repurpose it to mean "manual policy" in which grades are NOT hidden, if I am understanding correctly. Changing the meaning of the icon is going to create more confusion for instructors on whether or not students can actually see the grade.

Learner II

Hi jfenton@instructure.com

Thank you for this opportunity!

While I am typically a huge fan of consistency, I truly hate this and know that my faculty will too.

322335_pastedImage_1.png

It is not as visually apparent as the greyed boxes were when I set my menu preferences, and like much of this ill-fate release, it was not needed and unnecessarily complicated things.  The only saving grace on this change, is that it is not visible to student users.

Kelley

Community Member

The reason I picked the gearbox icon (which does technically have an M in the middle, though it's not necessary) was that I remember using letters can cause localization issues (in some languages, the translation of automatic and manual might start with the same letter/character).

I think some kind of graphical icon is needed, though I don't know if the gearbox is best. The one thing I'm certain of in my mind is that the eye icons should indicate visibility to students, *not* indicate a manual post policy is in effect.

Community Member

Can I ask when this change with the blue dot is supposed to take place?

Community Member

Kelley,

I agree and Canvas needs to stop with these very broken band-aids.

They are making the work of faculty much harder because Canvas is not consistent. The posting policy is not consistent, the eyeballs for what is showing in terms of navigation are not consistent.

Karen Matson

Learner II

I see how that can be distracting when there are more hidden than visible items.  Most of our courses will have seven hidden navigation items and eleven visible.  I am so glad we have fewer hidden than your dozen.

Just out of curiosity, I believe the example you shared here means you have Modules and a Home (i.e. Front page) only being visible?  And any links to integrations.

Surveyor

I also don't like using the word Post because that is the term I've traditionally seen used for a final grade at the end of the term.  Final course grades get posted, assignment grades get entered and there are times you might want to hide or mute them.  

Community Member

I am definitely not a fan of these new icons, but to be fair I'm not sure what icons will be best for the various statuses that exist since there are a lot of them. Frankly, I rather preferred the previously-existing feature in the New Gradebook that simply spelled out MUTED for any column that had an assignment that was muted. Yes, I realize MUTED is now dead and it would be hard to simply write out the status without making the columns ridiculously wide, but more than 2 icons is bound to confuse people.

Regardless of the icon, an ideal solution would at least involve having tooltips so that instructors can realize what the icon means.  Currently in the New Gradebook, mousing over a column icon simply gives you the assignment name, which is not very helpful.  I wondered why there were not tooltips, but then I saw this question in the New Gradebook User's Group, where Erin Hallmark stated:

The New Gradebook is built using functionality that does not support tooltips.

Yikes! That's terrible planning; having tooltips would at least help some users with understanding what the icons mean.  If not tooltips, I would strongly encourage the engineers to think of a way to have a key to the icons appear someone on the gradebook page itself, perhaps in some of the white space at the top of the screen.  A key to icons appears, for example, at the top of everyone's Notification Preferences screen, so we can tell that the clock means a daily summary and the calendar means a weekly summary.  Surely something like this can be done in the New Gradebook somehow?

Let me make clear I am not against this new Post Policy whatsoever--clumsy as the implementation and fine-tuning may have been.  It was created, after all, in response to users who wanted a way to automatically have every assignment placed in a muted state (see https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/8851-set-mute-as-a-default-for-assignments  among many other similar ideas) as well as those who wanted a way to post some grades while leaving others muted.  (Seen in https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/7319-differentiated-notifications-for-differentiated-assignmen... and other similar ideas.)  Now it just needs to be fine-tuned a bit, including deciding what the icons are. 

But whatever they are, please have a "key" somewhere on the gradebook page AND/OR tooltips, if at all possible.

Community Member

Agreed, while this is getting better, the "crossed out eyeball" doesn't intuitively mean "manually post grades" at all. 

Community Member

Post Policies have been a disaster on our campus and have led to the most faculty support questions we've ever had. My feeling is that if this much conversation and explanation is needed then the icons are not clear/obvious, especially when no tool tips or icon legends are provided.  It is confusing to have so many different states and so many icons that look similar. I wish we could just go back to it either being hidden or not. Please listen to the community feedback here and wait to get it all settled and tested before rushing to rolling out any more changes.

Community Member

I'm a big fan of the 3 - Posting to “everyone” sets policy to Automatic!

Surveyor

Good point about the localization, I hadn't considered that detail. I think we're in agreement that some kind of indicator is needed in addition to the eye/crossed eye.

Community Member

Yes! This is right on. We have not had this many faculty confused over a change in a long time.

Learner II

The example is a Professional Development course that needs no other navigation.

KISS rules, and all that jazz!

Surveyor

Too many icon changes. I am all for just one visibility eye with a slash for hidden and nothing for visible. Including if a global gradebook policy has been applied. When all grades posted for any assignment that assignments icon disappears. For sections, if filtering by all sections if any are still hidden there is a visibility icon. Filtering by individual sections, visibility icon would be dependent on if a section has been released or not.
 
If you haven't set a global one for the entire gradebook (which is a great addition), people seem fine with it being automatic grading.
 
For single assignments, the set grading policy before hiding is what is throwing our teachers. Why have one extra step to add a grading policy. Just say hide grades, and they are hiding. Why do they have to say I want to hide grades, then enter a grade to see that they have hidden grades.
 
Speedgrader, besides quick access to the grading policy inside of speedgrader, I'm not sure if it's a bug but, if you set policy in Grades and immediately go to speedgrader the icon does not have the slash. You need to grade once and refresh browser to get the slashed out icon and the ability to post grades. Without refreshing browser, it says hidden under the student's name but, there is no way to post grades. So that makes one more step, grade once refresh your browser.
 
The think 2 and 3 are a good step in the right direction.

Community Member

I was just about to create a new blog on the confusion we and our instructors have been having with the icons when I came across this post. So I'm data dumping here instead  

 

Being consistent with the icons is a good start, but I agree with most the people commenting on this post that even the updated list isn't enough--the eyeball icon itself is confusing and will be even after it is used consistently. This may be a sad commentary on myself, but until I read this post and studied the updated chart--even having read the guides that have been produced by Canvas about this new feature--I never realized that the eyeball v. crossed out eyeball was reflecting the status of the grade policy, not the status of the grade visibility (and, of course, my instructors who don't follow the community are even more confused). It never even crossed my mind (pun intended) that it could be reflecting the policy (though, I will admit, now that I understand that, It does make more sense than it was initially making to me). Part of that is because I am used to the bell icon being in that spot and it did relate to visibility. Another problem is that the gray crossed out eye makes us think of the "unpublished" icon which intuitively would translate to the grades being "unpublished" i.e. hidden.  Ultimately an eye means "can you see this" to me, I guess. 

 

Perhaps this will change as we become more accustomed to having the ability to set grading policies, but currently, we really don't need to be able to see at a glance what the policy is, only the state of the grades in the column. If I or my instructors need to know the policy, we'll do the extra click or two to pull it up. So, for us, we would it be most helpful and most intuitive if the icon displayed just told us if all the grades were visible, some of the grades were visible, or none of the grades were visible. If Canvas also to show the policy with an icon, we'd prefer having two separate icon structures instead of one set with various derivations. 

 

I also agree that no matter what the final outcome, there really needs to be a key and/or tooltips--at least while people are getting used to the (current iteration of) changes.

Community Member

Like kelley.meeusen@cptc.edu, we have (training and support) courses that look like that now because the majority of tools and functionality are hidden as they are not needed. 

And also, thumbs up to KISS --it's always the best policy.

Community Member

Adding to the general commentary that the icons are confusing and not intuitive.  I would also like to add that the language explaining the "post policies" is also confusing and needlessly complex for a relatively simple concept.  I've read and re-read this update and I can honestly say that I would not be able to explain the policy nor the icons to my faculty and if I cannot explain it then my faculty is not even going to bother to try to understand it themselves.

Community Member

Agreed. I see the open eye and I think it's visible to students. 

Community Member

Thank you Jon Fenton for the work being done by you and your team on the Post Policy feature.

I wanted to weigh in here on the behaviours for the icons as I can see this will have a huge impact on our staff when grading students.

To clarify if I've understood correctly, the two objectives trying to be met with these icons are:

  • accurately reflect hidden or unhidden status
  • indicate when the status is "automatic" or "manual"

From a usability perspective, if one is building functionality into an icon, the icon must be predictable and universally recognisable. Not doing this will cause significant confusion in most users. In a highly sensitive area such as assessment and grading, it is imperative that users do not lose confidence in the functionality of the grading system. Eye icons predictably indicate something is visible, therefore using a strikethrough an eye would generally be considered not visible (i.e. a hidden status).

A simple solution would be to use

  • the eye icon to indicate the hidden or unhidden status and
  • if necessary, the blue dot as the indicator that the behaviour is automatic/manual

Using your table, this modification would provide a simple but predictable use of the icons you are already proposing.

New Policy Gradebook icons

So that would bring consistency regarding visibility. I suspect that there is still work to be done to clarify the policies around "automatic" and "manual" states and I'm uncertain about the need or application for this. There are not often times when staff would want everything hidden all at once. Particularly once the semester begins as assessment is generally progressive.

Community Member

I agree with the statement above that tooltips are necessary for something this confusing.

 

I also agree that this grade posting policy is not an improvement over what we had before. Faculty understood muted/not muted. It was an on/off switch. Yes, for class with a lot of assignments, it could be a pain to have to manually change the grade posting policy for any assignment that was going to be muted, but still, that could be done with a few clicks, and very little documentation.

Let's say you wanted a way to change the default policy for an entire course. Why do we need all these other icons? When it was mute/unmute, did faculty have trouble remembering to unmute the assignment? Couldn't we just have an icon that shows a grade is hidden (whether or not there are grades in the column), and another that shows it's not hidden? Perhaps if Canvas explained the problem they're trying to fix, we could offer suggestions based on that, but from the other comments in this thread, I'm not the only one who doesn't understand what the problem is that the posting policy was trying to solve. 

 

I'm trying to write a blog post for our faculty about this new policy and I have to link to FIVE guides. And it looks like I'm also going to eventually have to add this chart that describes what each icon means and have them print it out and tape to their computer, and I'm not exaggerating that this is what they will have to do. 

 

I understand that the engineers are trying to fix what they perceive as a problem, but it's pushing the problem down the line to those of us who support faculty. I feel like Canvas perhaps doesn't understand who users like my faculty are. 

 

My faculty:

  • are mostly middle-aged or older (many have retired from full-time employment or are near retirement) 
  • are mostly not technology natives 
  • may not own a personal computer 
  • may have difficulty seeing small icons and text
  • are often reluctant to ask for help with something that they feel they should have total responsibility over, which means they will do something on their own even if they break the thing, and only tell me after the fact that they broke it, and only after spending hours trying to un-break it unsuccessfully. 
  • generally cannot understand Canvas documentation (many of my faculty have told me the guides "were not written for people like them") so I can't just point them to the guides to figure out how to do something--I have to understand it myself and explain it on a case-by-case basis and to be honest, I very often struggle with Canvas guides and documentation myself and it's literally my job to understand Canvas guides
  • are not necessarily teaching online by choice
  • often prioritize their on-campus classes and duties over their online courses, so by the time they get to online courses, they are tired
  • may work day jobs in industry and teach online in the evening when I'm not online to help them
  • had zero choice about using Canvas and zero choice about using New Gradebook because both of these decisions were made by our university system
  • work 50-60 hours a week already and now have to spend more time trying to understand a new tool
  • are nervous, overwhelmed, and reluctant about switching to a new LMS from D2L

This is who my faculty are. I'm not saying everything Canvas does should cater to them. I'm saying Canvas should keep these users in mind. These are the users who struggle the most, and something like a confusing grade posting policy with TEN different possible icon combinations to replace what used to be TWO was not put in place with these users in mind. It simply wasn't. Or if it was, it underestimates the cognitive load that such a change would put on the end user.  

 

At Wisconsin CanvasCon a few weeks ago, we were told over and over by Canvas employees that Canvas cares what its users think, but I'm not seeing that here. My faculty need a simple mute/unmute (or hidden/unhidden) button that works like a switch. They will struggle a LOT to adapt to this; not because they're dumb, but because this is very confusing, and I am not seeing evidence from Canvas's side that you realize this is confusing because now we literally need a reference chart--without the benefit of tooltips, apparently--to know whether a grade is visible to students. 

 

I am very apprehensive about this change, frustrated that Canvas didn't do more UX testing for something that is so important, and really really just want New Gradebook to be rolled back to mute/unmute until you can come up with a way to implement this change that doesn't make my faculty panic. 

Community Member

This makes SOOO much more sense !!

But I still don't think we need to have an icon tell us the policy - all we need to know is whether its visible or not to student. everything else is unnecessary complication.

Frankly: I don't think a global post policy is at all necessary - should be a setting in each assignment. There are many other places that would benefit from "global" settings in Canvas, but this 'grade post policy' is a very minor and less important one ... unless it gets screwed up by a bunch of complicated and non-intuitive processes!

Community Member

I agree-- we need to know whether or not it's visible to the students. Nothing else needs an icon, any more than the discussion policies need an icon. 

Community Member

This was a refreshing read.  I hope Instructure was taking notes when they went through this post.

Community Member

Clearly there is much confusion with the new grade posting policy as well as with any combination of icons. And clearly many people, like most of my faculty were just fine with the previous functionality. Therefore, perhaps it could be an option available in course settings, where you can switch on the capability of grade posting policies (both for the course and for individial assignments). With that option disabled, it would revert to the previous functionality where you click to hide/unhide visibility of grades (capable of being done in Grades or in SpeedGrader). Of course, I realize this does not solve the iconography issue, but for many folks, the simpler functionality is all they need or want.

P.S. If anyone is interested, I created a video and sent to all of our faculty in advance of their using this new feature because I knew it would be confusing. It was confusing to me, and like others here have confided, it is my job to understand this stuff. Anyway, feel free to use it if you find it might be helpful to your or your instructors. It will not be that useful once the icons change but I think it is still relevant.

Canvas New Grade Hiding and Posting

Lamplighter

Thank you, naomi_h!

I had this thought as soon as I saw the proposed table and before I read through all the comments, so I'm glad someone finally put it down.

I would suggest reversing the purpose of the blue dot, though, and using a blue dot for a manual policy. A dot gets your attention and should suggest that it needs your attention, which is more likely to happen for a manual policy than an automatic one. No dot to get your attention means that no attention is needed -- everything is automatic.

They really need a different symbol for the total column as well.

Community Member

While I am not sure I can add more than what has already been said here, I can add that these changes have caused major anxiety amongst my teachers. We have a policy regarding posting grades and the iconography of this 'update' is very confusing. If a grade is hidden (or muted as it used to be) it needs an icon to show that - the crossed eye one is fine. If it's posted then either no icon or an open eye is great - it explains to anyone looking at the gradebook what is seen and what is not. I am not sure there is any need to distinguish between the policies in the gradebook. It is creating icons that are confusing and unnecessary.

Community Member

I completely agree about the blue dot being confusing and meaning action is required.

Community Member

Thanks for your comment james@richland.edu

Agreed, the total column requires some further thought. At our institution we currently release overall course results through a different system and therefore bringing functionality to that point of interaction will be a good thing (as opposed to under Settings). I suspect a simple visibility icon would be sufficient as well.

Re using the blue dot for manual process or automatic processes
Initially when I read your comment, I agreed. However, I'd like to see it in beta first. For an icon positioned atop an assignment column, its position classifies it as a local option. Therefore the natural assumption for its functionality would be to mute or unmute - any automatic settings add complexity. 

Additionally, I'm still unclear about the functionality in situ. If one does nothing then is it set to "Automatic Visible"? When a user selects an individual column to hide does it switch all to a manual state and then do the others remain as visible with an icon change? Much room for confusion as many have pointed out here.

Community Member

This is a mess and the solution proposed will just add confusion. A blue dot is a universal icon for...nothing. What was an intuitive system between Speedgrader and GradeBook, i.e. hidden or not hidden, with recognizable and consistent icons is now documented in a table with 8 options and took many words to explain. For me to get this message across to teachers will be very tricky. 

Most importantly, what have we gained in this? Nothing my institution needs.

AND to make this worse there is a bug in the manual hiding of grades where the icons show a hidden assignment grades but they are not.

See https://drive.google.com/open?id=1EI1x_lsga1XG6tV9A_mr_VZbX8kpkGxH for how this plays out.

[Instructure folk: ticket #04598812]

Community Member

I think the an indicator for manual vs automatic posting is somewhat important for the main view.  If teachers are entering grades, I think it's important that they know right away whether the students will see the grades or not.  If no grades are entered for a particular assignment yet, it will be helpful to have an icon to let the teacher know if the grades they are putting in will be seen by students right away.

About the Author
I worked at an Ed-Tech startup before joining Instructure and am now part of the Canvas product team. When not spending time with my family I can be found reading or playing board games.