Post Policy Updates Feedback

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Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni
Thanks for your feedback! We've made several improvements in the last few Canvas releases that are now in your production environment.

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:


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


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:


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: 


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.


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. 




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.




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. 




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!

The content in this blog is over six months old, and the comments are closed. For the most recent product updates and discussions, you're encouraged to explore newer posts from Instructure's Product Managers.

Community Participant

To be honest we too have never had so much confusion regarding an update. Many of our teachers were avid users of the mute and unmute function and it worked well. While I understand you may not be able to go back the icons are confusing and have caused significant problems for our staff. I do not see how the new 'fix' will assist.

I believe it would be far more simple for a teacher to select a grading policy at the course level that allows them to choose between:

  • hiding the grades for the whole course by default (requiring manual posting when required)
  • for each Assignment (again requiring them to post manually)
  • not hiding at all (automatically posting)

This could all be managed from Gradebook only however the icon could be seen from the Speedgrader so they are aware at the time of marking.

The icons are very confusing, my very simplified take is that wth the new updates we will have one icon that means two different things and on any level that is not ok.

Community Participant

Agreed. The blue dot has no place here. It just reminds me of a badge that shows there is new content to view (new message, new grade for a student). It makes no sense to assign the meaning of 'hidden grade' or any policy to a blue dot. All instructors need to know is if grades are visible or not. Stop complicating things.

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Hi, all,

The purpose of having two icons is that initial feedback suggested that instructors wanted a quick way to see how the assignment had been graded—automatic or manual. From the thoughts posted here it seems being able to see the history of grading like that is not a needed addition?


Community Champion

erinhallmarkthanks for sharing what you were hoping to accomplish with the two icons. Context is always good, it makes us better able to understand things.

I am not a big fan of muting, so I almost never used it. However, I am a huge fan of Canvas making sense without having to look up how to use something. That cuts down on support time and frustration. It makes people feel better, too.

I don't care to know how the grade is assigned, I just want to know if all of the students can see their grades. If the grade is not visible to at least one student, then I need my attention drawn to it so I can do something about it. Once I know that the assignment needs attention, you can explain the reasoning after I click something.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi erinhallmark‌,

Thanks for adding your thoughts here.  I appreciate that Instructure is trying to gather some feedback from the community on this (apparently somewhat controversial) feature overall.  After reading a lot of the feedback here, I think I have the following observations and thoughts:

  • Many people here liked the simplicity of the previous mute/unmute functionality
  • The complexity of the new post policies may be overwhelming for some, but I think the choice of icons has been a large contributor to the confusion.
  • For those not using manual posting (definitely a majority here), they'd prefer to only see information about grade visibility.
  • For those using manual posting, it is probably useful for them to have an icon to indicate that for each assignment, as well as the visibility.
  • Consistency throughout Canvas is very important.  An icon should have only one meaning throughout Canvas.  The current and proposed change here do not follow this logic for the slashed eye icon in conjunction with the upcoming changes to the course menu.

I don't think many users on our campus will use manual posting, but I know it was a very much requested feature from our Ann Arbor campus (some there even would like manual posting to be the default of all new courses instead of automatic).  For those who wanted something like post policies (mute by default, unmute by section, etc), it would be hard to go back now.  I'd stand by the earlier suggestions I made for icons...  For automatic visible grades, don't show any icons in the column (this mimics the classic gradebook).  For automatic hidden grades, just show the hidden icon (whether that's the slashed eye or something else).  For manual grades with all of them posted, just show an indicator that manual grade posting is enabled.  For manual grades with some hidden/not posted, show the manual and hidden icons.  I think this would simplify things for a lot of users, even though I'm sure not everyone will be happy.


Community Champion

Hi Erin, 

Thanks for the context. I'm not sure, honestly, why anyone would care whether something was posted automatically or manually. Are you sure it wasn't that people wanted a quick way to tell whether something was visible or hidden?

To my mind, part of the problem stems from the fact that you're using four words (automatic, manual, post, hide) to replace what used to be two words (muted, unmuted). You also introduced a phrase that doesn't intuitively get at what instructors want to do--"grade posting policy" just as a phrase is more complicated than "muting/unmuting," and the word "policy" makes many academics' knees jerk involuntarily. It also doesn't directly address what the instructor wants to have happen--hide the grades or make them visible. 

Here is my UX report and suggestions. 

  • Problem: Grade posting policy: if I say these words to an instructor, they don't intuitively know what that is. What you basically want is a course default--are the grades hidden by default or posted by default? Also, it's confusing to have a grade posting "policy" option for the entire course AND for individual assignments. The word "policy" seems inappropriate when applied to just one assignment, since "policy" implies something larger.
    • Suggest changing the wording for the coursewide setting from grade posting policy to "default grade visibility" with the two options: hidden/posted
    • Suggest calling the thing that happens on the grade level to just be something like "grade visibility": hidden or posted, or something like that. 
  • Problem: four words replace two: As I understand it, something that has been manually posted/automatically posted refers to what the instructor decided before the grades were assigned, whereas posted/hidden refer to what the instructor does once at least one grade has been assigned. For the way I teach, this is not a meaningful distinction. For the way I teach, I care whether students can see the grade or not see the grade--it doesn't matter to me whether I hid that grade two months ago or a second ago.
    • Suggest eliminating this distinction and just using hidden/posted. 
  • Problem: you seem to want to give instructors the ability to have a grade item be hidden, then let the instructor post the grades for students who have been graded but keep the assignment hidden for students who haven't yet submitted. You seem to be trying to indicate this with different icons on the column level
    • Suggest this is a Phase 2 sort of change. This is a "nice" feature but not as important as having the gradebook make sense for the way most people work. 
    • Suggest turning on the ability through speedgrader and the gradebook to hide/post grades for individual students on individual assignments.
      • This can also be accomplished by asking instructors when they post grades whether they want to post for all the students or just those who have received grades, as you have done.   
      • If possible, it would be nice to have this as something the instructor could toggle on and off by clicking on the icon (see idea below). If a student has an eye next to their grade, either in speedgrader or the gradebook, let the instructor click on that icon to post the grade (the icon then goes away). 
  • Problem: too many icon combinations are confusing: The blue dot doesn't mean anything to the user without needing to refer to documentation. An eye with the slash through it tells me the students cannot see the grades. The open eye with no slash to me means the student can see the grades. There are too many icons.
    • Suggest not using an icon at all when the grade is visible to students. This will be the default for most courses and most grade items, not using an icon eliminates the visual cognitive load for most users and most situations. 
    • Suggest using an eye with a slash through it on the top of the column to indicate students at least some students cannot see the grade.
    • Suggest, if possible, adding an eye with a slash icon to the individual cell of the specific students who cannot see their grade (if you maintain the ability for grades to be posted for some people and not all). 
  • Problem: icons are not consistent between Speedgrader and the gradebook.
    • Suggest waiting to introduce a change until/unless it is consistent between the gradebook and speedgrader and for the student view (in grades and on their assignment)

Thank you for listening. I recognize my experience may not be everyone's, so this feedback is just from my perspective and UX. 

Community Novice

This is so, so confusing. The simpler, more logical approach would just be to have assignments muted by default, and then leave the toggle as a simple mute/unmute. These icons are completely baffling, and I am not looking forward to having to explain this to my faculty. If there's any way to roll back this planned change, please do so!

Community Participant

A blue dot in canvas already has meaning and it's clearly that there is something for review or attention is needed. This is pretty consistent 'blue dot' icon functionality already in Canvas. Below is just a few of the dozens of Canvas Guides, just a sample of the many places blue dots are used to show something needs attention or something is new. NOT something is hidden.

How do I know when my instructor has graded my assignment? 

A blue dot next to the assignment indicates the assignment that has been graded [1].

How do I change discussion settings to manually mark discussion replies as read as an instructor? 

In discussion replies, a blue dot indicates the reply is new and unread.

How do I find my unread messages in the Inbox as an instructor? 

All unread messages have an indicator next to the message. Once a conversation has been read, the blue dot changes to a gray circle.

How do I view the Calendar in the Student app on my iOS device? 

The calendar displays a blue dot for any dates that contain an assignment or event [2].

How do I use the icons and colors in the Grades page? 

When your instructor grades your assignment, the grades page displays a blue dot next to the assignment [1].

How do I start a poll on my Android device? 

The app displays the course and section for the poll question. A blue dot indicates a current poll.

To remain consistent the blue dot should be used in the grade book or speed grader to indicate there is something new that needs attention such as updated comment or new assignment submission. Any other use of a blue dot would not be consistent with the rest of the blue dot functionality used this way through out canvas.

So using a blue dot to show something is hidden and not something needs attention and is new would be and is very confusing, causes ambiguity and makes the icon less intuitive for  your expressed purpose..

Regarding"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."

Community Participant

I like many others have no idea what's going on here..... Blue dot. Eye. Slashed eye. No eye. Blue dot eye. Blue dot slashed eye?????? I also have a few icons to contribute...  :smileyconfused:‍:smileyinfo::smileyalert:

Whilst I understand the requirement for release by section and muting all assignments as noted by  @kblack , I'm really not sure how this has translated into post grade policies. It's quite clear that people want a binary system to understand whether grades are visible to students. Either they are visible or they aren't. Perhaps this needs to be indicated at a more granular level on a student by student basis? It would make for a very busy gradebook, but at least everyone will know which students can view their grades. Another solution would be to have an advanced view which you can switch on and off for each column or the whole gradebook or by section, allowing you to view the intricacies, but without cluttering the gradebook. Either way this one needs to go back to the drawing board.

In my view, automatic posting for individual students (unless it's a formative quiz) is bad practice because it means that some students receive feedback before others. There's also the issue of Turnitin, where students cannot view their originality report whilst an assignment is muted.

Please re-consider this functionality entirely before going forwards, or at the very least allow people to switch this off and continue to use the old mute/unmute functionality. I understand that it's really difficult taking the product forward, taking into account the needs of some users and improve the system for all, but I just feel that this functionality really isn't a good fit. To quote from your website:

“Canvas helps instructors teach the way they want to. Whether they're pushing revolutionary pedagogy or dipping their toes into technology-supported teaching, Canvas makes sure we're always empowering faculty with the right educational technology without getting in their way.”

Community Contributor

Hello Sarah:

You have articulated my feelings exactly. I too thought about a course setting to enable/disable the grading policy. This video is great! We will use elements your script as a framework of how to explain this new (confusing) functionality change to our instructors.  


Community Participant

I love your icon 'suggestions' Smiley Happy 

Community Explorer

If we are already too far down the path of manual/automatic policies, so they must stay - I will say that I like some of the previous comments (Naomi Herzog & James Jones) regarding having the eye/blue dot indicators... My summary of that is as follows - noting what each icon means:

Icon Legend

So the combined icons in the Grades area would look like this:

Combined Icon Legend

I also would like to suggest that when you have chosen to release grades to some (but not all) of the students, the indicator next to grades that are not visible should just display on the screen.  I do not like that you have to click on the grading policy to see those indicators.  So I would like the grades to look like this:

Gradebook view of icons and indicators

Community Contributor

As others have said, still seems very complicated.

1.  Not wild about the policy concept. "Policy" is a term that my faculty do not understand -- instead of just saying "rule".

2.  It seems to me the "slash eye" always means it is hidden.  (slash means "not visible")

3.  Having no icon at the top of the column would mean it is showing.

4.  Use the three dots at the top of the gradebook column to release the grade to students with a notification sent.

Instead of having a "policy", I would like to see a checkbox on each assignment Edit page:  "Hide the grade until released".  This would put a "slash eye" at the top of the gradebook column, and maybe some indicator in Speedgrader. 

Someone may have already suggested this idea, but no time to read through all the comments!

Community Explorer

Hi Erin Hallmark - thank you for jumping in.

I've gone back and re-read your very detailed document outlining the functionality of this issue, New Gradebook and SpeedGrader Muting Behaviour Changes as well as the idea Differentiated Notification for Differentiated Assignments. Admittedly, skimming your doc and the comments here led me to misinterpret the issue. Apologies for jumping in before I'd understood the problems more clearly. The terms "Post Policy" and particularly "automatic grading" had originally confused me and led me to make assumptions about the functionality of this feature.

To confirm, is this feature change designed primarily to enable different Sections (or students) to have their grades released from within the same assignment? If so, I was previously confused, grade release by Sections is a much needed feature in our university with over 85,000 students and I suspect this would be the case for other larger institutions. However, as seen in this thread, if it is unclear or too complex it will not be taken up by staff.

To expand on the issue from our perspective, many of our courses have between 100 to 500+ students enrolled. Students are divided into tutorial groups with multiple academics involved. Each tutorial group is classified as a Section by Canvas. Currently if an assignment is muted, individual staff cannot currently release their completed grades to their students until the assignment is unmuted when everyone is done grading. Given many areas have a policy of not releasing grades to students until all assessment is complete, this can be an issue. For those courses that have multiple lecturers assessing students by Sections, then this complex but critical feature is a much needed option and thank you for trying to resolve this.

Could you clarify if I've understood correctly, (hoping I have this correct):

  • for those staff who just want to keep it simple, the default would be as it is now essentially, a simple case of muting or unmuting the assignment column using the eye icon for visibility or slashed eye icon for not visible
  • for staff needing more flexibility for releasing grades then staff would have the option to customise the "Posting Policy" to release grades by Sections and that is where the blue dot would come in to identify that the assignment had been released to a student

Hoping I have this right?

If this is the case then I would agree with others here to recommend calling it a rule not a Policy. It may also be helpful to not refer to it as Automatic grading (very misleading) as it is about how grades are released and when they are made visible. As others have mentioned, the convention for the blue dots as a point of notification (used widely by Canvas in other areas), should be maintained.

Community Champion

If I understand -- you're suggesting a blue dot mean a manual policy, but a red (or is that orange?) dot indicate hidden? I'm not sure I can get behind that idea.

The red dot I might buy, but the eye-con should have a slash through it when there are any students who cannot see it. Then the instructor knows to go looking for the red dots. If you have an open eye-con, then I'm not going to think to look for students who cannot see it because it looks like everyone can see it.

I'm still not seeing the need for a blue (or other color) dot at the top, but if you lost that one and went with the indicator on the cell, it might be okay.

I'm a little concerned about keyboard users with putting dots in the cells. If they have to receive focus so you can get a tooltip (someone else mentioned the new gradebook wasn't designed for accessibility -- that's very non-Canvas-y so it doesn't sound right), then it just makes it harder to enter grades. I already find the new gradebook harder to use with just a keyboard.

Community Participant

Here are my two €0,02:

I find the proposed solution very confusing, and any user interface that needs to be explained, is not a good user interface. When it comes to an area as sensitive as grading, there should be as little cause for confusion as possible, preferably none.

If a change is implemented, make it the right one: don't implement something that isn't clear, that isn't finished. Do it right, or leave it be until a better solution is possible.

*Edit: typo

Community Coach
Community Coach

I'm going to say no to the "two color dots on a page that mean different things". The dot should be distinguishable to the meaning without any color. 

Community Champion

 @ericaeducator , here's a great place to comment about group settings copying with course import:

Community Member

Could we get a legend somewhere on the page (e.g. along the top or side) to remind us what all these icons mean? Having so many icons without labels or tooltips is confusing. The crossed out eye icon is probably clear enough to most people that the column is hidden, but everything else is unclear and difficult to remember.

I like the "greyed out" effect used on the course homepage navigation links to indicate that something is hidden. I get that that effect might not work with the colour scheme in the grade book, but at least everyone seems to understand what it means.

Community Participant

I've just spent the last 20 minutes reading these comments.  It wasn't broken and it got fixed. 

We are a K-12 school in Melbourne Australia who has invested entirely in real-time reporting based on Canvas assignments for formal assessments for student feedback and parent viewing since 2016.  Our staff have bought into the assumption that muting just works.  For our senior high students about to go to final state examinations in 12 weeks, their feedback is synchronised to go back at the same time for all students.  Across Years 7-12, the last four weeks have resulted in great uncertainty, frustration and students receiving feedback and sometimes marks prematurely through lags in synching, teacher mistakes that never occurred previously and bugs that enabled feedback to be posted.

The focus has been put on the learning management system rather than the learning.  A lag in synching is something we are convinced has added to uncertainty and probably has contributed to feedback being posted. Interestingly, lagging as an issue is not identified here in the comments above.

For me personally, this has meant around 25 additional hours hunting possible problems down too many rabbit holes and placating colleagues who have followed directions and tried to do everything right.  I understand the new changes and can justify them to a certain point.  But this was flawed with the introduction of new terms and icons that were not intuitive to teachers who are just that - not instructional designers with advanced skills but strong practitioners in their fields.  

It could be argued that even "manual" and "automatic" are around the wrong way around.

I don't want to go into specifics here other than to emphasise a return to simplicity and certainty are desperately needed.  Whilst muting as a default option was seen as attractive, it wasn't envisaged that it would result in such confusion.

If there was an opportunity to go back to how it was prior to these changes being introduced, I would be voting for that option.  It just worked.  I have always embraced Canvas innovations because they've improved the product.  Surely that is the point of an innovation.  In the meantime, any further changes to muting just need to be simple and add certainty to procedures and for busy teachers. 

Community Champion

Hi erinhallmark, you mention “instructors wanted a quick way to see how the assignment had been graded—automatic or manual”, but isn’t it much more? Not only what had been done in the past, but also a clear overview of what still needs to be done by one or several graders. This is quite a necessity, especially when having multiple graders who may or may not grade per section.

I think seeing the history of what has been done is absolutely critical, but as this thread is about the meaning of the icons, history should be discussed as a different topic and preferably in another thread. If you would also include it in this thread than this will become more cluttered and more difficult to digest.

Community Champion

I have a few thoughts on these proposals.

  • I agree with  @James ‌ that the blue dot is an "extra" icon, which should indicate that something extra is needed -- like attention from the instructor.
  • I'm concerned that a blue dot is being used in conjunction with grades while a different shade of blue dot is used in Inbox to indicate an unread message. 
  • I think that red is an alert color and should be used to indicate that an assignment requires an instructor's attention; however, I'm also concerned with assigning meaning to a color for those who are visually impaired in some way.
  • I agree with pcallil‌ that this change was fixing something that wasn't broken. My faculty have been terribly confused with this. They don't see this as a policy. They see it as a task they do to a specific assignment. Muting means hiding something temporarily, which is exactly what the previous implementation did.
  • Adding an indicator that it is hidden and has grades within it is overkill. Faculty want to know if it's hidden; they can see at a glance whether there are grades for the assignment.
  • We're ending up with a lot of color-with-meaning in the gradebook -- dots, eyes, Turnitin flags, statuses. I'm not sure what a visually impaired person would end up with. Those, in my opinion, are not good choices and take Canvas way back a few notches in a time that we are trying to get people to understand that accessibility isn't just about being disabled in some way but about doing the right thing for everyone. What is the rule of thumb about the number of things a person can remember? 7 items -- we're talking about nearly a dozen with the various combinations. 
Community Champion

My teachers are really going to hate this.  I am told it is an accessibility issue but can't we just use a different color than the light grey.  Maybe even both a different color and the icon.   This is going to be a big issue for getting the word out to the thousands of staff this will impact.

Community Participant

Way too complicated!  Especially when compared to the original, simple and elegant mute / unmute solution.

-Instructors should not have to consult a chart for this process.

No eye at top of column or in Speed Grader - grades visible to all students.

Eye with line through in at top of column and in Speed Grader - hidden to all students.

(Hover over icon see words "Hidden from students")

Open eye (no line) at top of column and in Speed Grader - Posting Policy in place.  Some grades hidden/some visible to students, depending on posting policy. (Hover over icon see words "Dot indicates hidden")

-Orange or red dot next to student's grade in the column indicates hidden from that student.

-No dot = visible

Not sure if this covers all use cases, but need to make this as simple as possible for instructors and students.

We like Canvas because it's intuitive and easy to use!

Community Novice

Thank you for this reply, Karla; I entirely agree. 

Community Novice

I also don't understand the point of manual grade posting policy if when you decide to "post grades to everyone" it will then change the entire assignment policy. I don't see how this grade posting policy is in any way a 'simpler version' of really anything regarding the gradebook prior to this. I'm also not sure why Instructure insists on this iconography, especially potentially adding this to the course navigation menu, and why the changes now after the academic year has began? Will these changes (if/when they occur) reset course policies as they did mid summer? Courses and assignments literally shut down for our online offerings...truly a nightmare.

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Hi, all,

An update has been posted to this blog (in case you weren't notified). It addresses your feedback and revised proposals.



Community Contributor

Mine, too.  What is it about the eyeballs all of a sudden?

Community Contributor

"It wasn't broken and it got fixed."  Exactly.

Community Contributor

I still think this is way too complicated.  Was this change, with the multiple ways of hiding/showing grades, a suggestion from the Canvas community?  Just curious what the objective is for all this complexity.  My faculty were just fine with the simple mute/unmute, although we did not like the terms and prefer show/hide.  Where did this idea come from?

Community Participant

September 4th update: Image result for no, it's the users that are wrong

Community Participant

Regarding the update - I still don't feel like we're being listened to. I agree that since there will inevitably be some new icons to coincide with post policies being new and needing them, that we'll have to help our instructors understand what they mean. This, however, is separate from the fact that the second proposal still clashes with what those icons mean in other parts of Canvas, which will make things confusing. Iconography that is used in multiple places should have a consistent meaning.

A crossed out eye in Canvas means "not visible to students". Instructors won't care if the grades are hidden because they did it manually or because of an automatic post policy - they only care that they can see at a quick glance if the grades are hidden from students or not.

A blue dot needs "needs my attention", and in the context of instructors, means "something's unread" or "something needs to be graded". It does not mean "hey, by the way, you need to post these hidden grades".

I think nearly everyone agrees that eye = visible and crossed out eye = hidden. So what needs to happen is a way to denote whether a manual or automatic policy is in play. I can understand the line of thinking that has led to wanting some new bit to an existing icon rather than a second icon in play. I just think the blue dot is not indicative enough. Maybe a clock icon for automatic? I'm no designer nor UI expert and I made this in Snagit it 5 minutes, so forgive the rough edges, but:

In regards to how to help instructors understand what icons mean, I think the simplest solution is to add hover text. Not only does it give instructors meaning, but also gives them what they want: quick status about the assignment in question without having to go into the detail tray.

Community Participant

Hover text would improve things...

Community Coach
Community Coach

The September 4th update still seems to ignore consistency of the slashed eye across Canvas.  While I agree that any change will need some training/communication to all users, I can't for the life of me figure out why different groups at Canvas seem to have different meanings for the same icon.

I think the overwhelming majority of users here agreed that the slashed eye icon should denote something hidden, not manual post policy (though I do understand the relation between the two when posting new grades).  At the same time, while the blue dot usually means something new or needs attention, I don't think it's a good choice for calling out hidden items at all.  Finally, there should be consistency between SpeedGrader and the Gradebook.  I thought previous testing showed the open eye was not widely recognized as visible unless a slashed eye was shown near it to denote the difference.  Just like the grades page, I have a feeling most users would prefer to not see an icon in SpeedGrader if the posting policy is on automatic.

Sorry to say, but I think this change still needs to go back to the drawing board.  I also seriously recommend that Instructure develop some kind of icon dictionary to be used across all of Canvas.  Give each icon one meaning for the entire platform, don't change it's meaning in one area vs another.


Community Explorer

Hi Christopher, 

I'm not sure that I am. I'd like Instructors to be able to post a round of grades and feedback, but hide any updates to those grades and feedback until the next time they would like to post grades. 

I feel that if posting to "Everyone" changes the grade posting policy it will be confusing for users as they will swear that they had previously set the grade posting policy to hidden, yet somehow, it's now set to automatic (and they didn't set it up like that!). 

I'm all for the Grade Posting Policy functionality, but the implementation needs to be simple enough that the non-tech savvy can understand how it works. People get very scared when it comes to entering grades into systems that allow visibility to students, and they are doubly scared when they're not sure how it works. 


Community Explorer

"I also would like to suggest that when you have chosen to release grades to some (but not all) of the students, the indicator next to grades that are not visible should just display on the screen.  I do not like that you have to click on the grading policy to see those indicators." 

I agree that there needs to be some visual indication within the Gradebook around which grades are hidden, and which are visible to students. 

I also don't think it's appropriate to click on the cell, then view the Grade Detail Tray in order to see whether marks are hidden. 

Additionally, there is currently no way to see whether a particular mark will be hidden BEFORE we enter it.  


  1. Set Assignment Posting Policy to Manual
  2. Click on a user's grade cell for that Assignment
  3. Be wary about entering a mark, as you're not 100% certain whether it will be hidden from students. 


This is particularly scary when you're entering marks that students shouldn't ever see, or marks that they shouldn't see for a set period of time after an assessment. 

Community Novice

After reading this thread and discussing with a co-worker, I'm really struck at how much confusion the simple naming of tasks and functions (let alone trying to create icons that represent that) cause.  

I'm in the camp that is confused by the terms "manual" and "automatic" in the context here.  To me it seems that the basic functionality is backwards:  

"Automatic" means -- that is done automatically upon another condition.  For example:  Autograding quizzes.  I submit the quiz; I get the feedback automatically -- no additional manual work is required.  I have an automatic transmission, I don't need to use the clutch; my car shifts gears on its own.

 "Manual" seems to imply I have something to do manually.  Evaluate that quiz manually. Enter the score provide feedback.   Shift a gear in my hand.

As a suggestion for improvement:  Why not have the ability to schedule a date when the feedback appears?  This seems to be a solution leveraging tools already used and familiar to Canvas Users.    Assignments have dates for submission.  Feedback and grading could have dates when they become available to the class.

So basically that creates two basic "states" for grades -- An ON state -- as I do my grading and feedback, it is turned on and students get the information returned to them immediately. 

And an OFF state -- I do my grading and feedback, but the appearance, notifications, grading doesn't appear until a scheduled time (date and time)  OR I flip that toggle switch from OFF to ON to show those grades.

Community Champion

I’m sorry to say that I am truly flabbergasted by the initial design choices already deployed in production as well as the suggested “improvements”. Making radical changes to this is now even more difficult. The discussion in this thread should have been done before pushing any implementation to production. I absolutely don’t see the update posted on September 4th as an improvement! Let me explain why.

Canvas unique selling point always has been usability, meaning that a user should be able to do most things without consulting manuals or at least as little as possible. One of the key ingredients (and possibly the most important one) of usability is consistency.

Regarding the topic of visibility to students Canvas already offers two mechanisms which indicate if a student is able to see an item or not:

  • Faded versus Strong contrast as used in the course navigation
  • Unpublished versus Published icons

These two mechanisms have been absolutely successful, because it has been used in so many places in Canvas and literally all people know what it means (high usability). Look at how it is now at Files and this could easily be reused for many other parts in Canvas as well, including the post policy:


Suddenly we have to deviate from this approach and add more confusing names, icons and dots? To make it concrete:

  • Grades, marks, points? All are used, where is the consistency in terminology?
  • Published, unpublished, posted, hidden, where is the consistency in terminology?
  • An eye icon to indicate Automatic? A slashed eye to indicate Manual?
  • A (new) dot meaning (or was it also called a badge?)

Only if the dot or badge must be used, the meaning of it is functional, not branding. So why confuse people with different colours of the same function, especially in cases where subaccounts have different colour schemes with different primary colours (which is the case for our university, unique colours per faculty department).

The September 4th update states “However, no matter what icon we use, there will need to be some learning for faculty initially.”. Please think harder before you make such a statement! It is us who in the end will need to support our teaching staff while this is close to impossible to sell.

Here are my suggestions.

  • Use Grades for grades and Points for points only. Marks is not used anywhere else and should be replaced by the correct term in the menu.
  • Use the words Published and Unpublished only. Don’t use Posted or Hidden or any other synonym.
  • Keep functional colours separate from aesthetic colours in themes
  • Green means Go, Orange means Attention, Grey means Inactive - these are universal functional indicator colours
  • M for Manual and A for Automatic are universal, anyone could understand it in this context without explanation

For the sake of testing intuitiveness and consistency, here are my suggestions without any explanation of the meaning of each of them. Can you guess what their purpose could be and where the can (or should) be used? And which of the different versions are most intuitive?


Community Participant

Hi Jon, and thanks for gathering all this feedback! I'm a technologist at Emerson College. I have a suggestion about the dialogue panel that appears after instructors click "Post Grades" from either the gradebook or Speedgrader.

After clicking “Post Grades,” instructors are now prompted to choose if this is for “Everyone” or “Graded.” The language “Grades will be visible to all students” scares the crap out of faculty. To them, it sounds like students will be able to see each other's grades. I know that Canvas would NEVER do this, but our faculty don't know that! I've given several Canvas trainings since we implemented the New Gradebook where instructors were so spooked by this language that they decided to abandon manually posting grades altogether, even after I explained what the options actually meant.

In addition, the current explanatory language—for "Everyone," "Grades will be visible to all students," and for "Graded," Grades will be made visible to students with graded submissions"—doesn't at all clearly describe what these options actually do. It took me (a technologist) forever to figure out that the only distinction being made here is whether students who haven't yet submitted see an icon indicating that grading is in progress. This is a level of granularity most faculty don't want or need; ideally, I'd love an option to give this a default setting and then hide it altogether, rather than forcing faculty to make a choice. But failing that, can this language be clarified to alleviate panic and also explain more explicitly what these options do?

A potential re-write could be:

Everyone: "All students with graded submissions will be able to see their personal grades. Students with ungraded submissions will see a note indicating that grading is in progress. All students will receive a notification."

Graded: "All students with graded submissions will be able to see their personal grades. Students with ungraded submissions will see a "hidden" icon for this assignment on their grades page. Only students with graded submissions will receive a notification."

Community Participant

Perfect comment. I want to cry.

Community Contributor

Thanks for voicing the concerns around the existing language used in the Post Grades panel, adam_engel‌. I too was and am very confused by the language, but found it difficult to separate that confusion with everything else that confuses me about the mixture of post/hide policies with hidden/visible grades. You have expressed the confusion very well.

I would like to add that the language in that pane could also be improved to help explain whether or not the "Post" action will result in any ungraded submissions from being hidden or not when they do get graded. This has confused me from the start. I think that I understand now that if the assignment is set to "Automatic" that posting grades will mean that any future grading will not be hidden (will get posted immediately), while assignments set to "Manual" will mean that any future grading will be hidden until manually posted. However, as it is now, nothing tells me that, and to make matters worse as it currently is the icons (in Grades) are identical for these two scenarios. I see a colored crossed out eye for my Automatic and Manual assignments where I have chosen to Hide the grades. Sheesh, I am so confused--and I'm supposed to explain it to our instructors.

Community Contributor

I think the bottom line is:

When an instructor opens the gradebook, they need to see imediately for each assignment:

  • The current state of each existing student grade, published or unpublished ( or hidden/unhidden)
  • What the state will be for any future students grade entered for that assignment; that is, "if i enter a grade for this assignment and this student, will the grade be visible to that student or not".

Under the current configuration, this is not always the case. An instructor can go into the gradebook and see that the Total column is hidden, but there may be nothing to indicate which particular assignments are hidden.

Man, I have racked my brain trying to come up with some scenario that would allow this. I'll have to leave this to someone smarter than me to come up with something Smiley Happy !


Community Participant

Hi all,

Just to add to this, we are experiencing difficulties with the students' Learning Mastery view, apparently a legacy of the Post and Hide issues we have experienced. This has been escalated with Canvas Support.

The teachers Learning Mastery view is not lining up with what the students see. These Assignments are not graded so using the Post and or Hide grades feature is not an option.

Just something else to be aware of,


Community Participant

Hello  @awarmar  ,

Until finding this page. I also didn't realize that the crossed out eyeball was about the grade policy - and not the grade visibility status for students. I am heading back into my Gradebook now - but it also seems there will be new changes (blue dots) to these changes soon. Arghhh.

Community Participant

Hello naomi_h 

I wish that I could 'like' your post more than once! Smiley Happy

Community Participant

You make a good point  @James  .

Community Novice

Rachel, I completely agree. It has taken me... well, since this feature was deployed... to wrap my head around this, and I spend 40+ hours a week working in Canvas. The iconography is not at all clear, and every instructor I've spoken to has expressed confusion over why a 'crossed out eyeball' is used to indicate something that's visible/available to students. I wonder, does there even need to be any icon once grades ARE posted? Why not the orange eyeball for unposted/hidden grades, and no icon for posted ones? Do we really need an icon telling us what sort of posting policy is applied to an assignment?

Sorry to rant. All of that is a long-winded way to say that you pinpointed the problem with the iconography!

Community Participant

Another day, another eyeball, another unique meaning. Please see below for a screenshot from the Announcements interface. In this case, the eyeball is used for instructors to view deleted replies to their announcement.

What is going on, Instructure? In this screenshot there is an eyeball to view deleted replies, a green "published" checkmark button to indicate students will be able to view the announcement (assuming date availability) and a green "subscribed" checkmark button indicating you have subscribed to the announcement.

I can't emphasize what a disaster this is for those of us teaching and supporting instructors using Canvas. You gotta ditch the eyeball. Sorry. You do. I read in another comment that tooltips are not supported by the Grades tool?  That is wild. You shouldn't introduce any new icons at all until there is a way for users to easily see what they mean. If an icon is going to be in multiple places, it needs to mean the exact same thing everywhere.

We gave a workshop on the gradebook yesterday and had to correct each other a couple of times because we were not giving accurate information. It is really hard to teach something that is incorrect, and that's what this is. The design is wrong.

Community Champion

Hi  @jfenton 

I'm old; and so, tend to be direct; painfully so at times.

It has been a week since you asked for feedback, and you got it - lots of it! One of the highest responses I have seen in awhile in this Community.

However, during that week, none of us has heard back from you.  The amazing erinhallmark‌ has come in a couple times to clarify, but I think most of us would really like to hear from you. In reading the comments, I am seeing some true long-time Canvas power users represented. And while I see lots of examples and variations on, "I am sorry, but......" as they deliver not particularly flattering feedback, I am not really seeing many positive notes.

Can you update all of us concerning what is happening on the engineering side?

Thank you, Jon.


Community Explorer

Hey Gang,

Thought I'd chime in. I'm currently wrapping up my PhD in cognitive load theory, and I teach interaction design and UI/UX stuff in Washington state, so IxD for LxD (learning experience design) is something I'm super interested in. Doesn't make me an expert by any means, but I thought I'd chime in cuz this update was hecka confusing to me as well, and I've been trying to nail down why.