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Roll Missing label in Gradebook back to Beta

Roll Missing label in Gradebook back to Beta

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

UPDATE FROM ERIN HALLMARK: Canvas Beta Release Notes (2017-09-25)

screenshot of pertinent release notes


My proposal is that the "Missing" label feature be put back into Beta so that the engineers and designers can consider what they are doing, and then do it PROPERLY, before they roll it out again.

After a long weekend spent in a long and ultimately useless dialogue with Canvas Support about the Missing label (details here), I am more convinced than I was before that this new feature (rolled out late in the summer) needs to be put back into Beta until the problems are fixed. Other people have documented problems and proposed fixes as follows:

Allow "Missing" label to be enabled/disabled 

Missing Label Placed Incorrectly/Submission on paper and online option 

No MISSING label for zero-point assignments  

Instructor override of missing submission badge 

Manually graded or "EX" assignments still show as missing 

There may be more; those are the five feature requests I know of related to the new Missing label. Rather than voting on how this mess can be fixed, I propose that we vote to roll it back into Beta IMMEDIATELY so that Canvas can take its time to find the best solutions. 

The problems people are having with this buggy feature are abundantly documented in those requests: the Missing label is being applied to assignments that are optional; the Missing label is being applied to assignments that students turn in IRL as opposed to online; the Missing label is being applied to assignments which are graded manually (i.e. my student forgets to do a quiz; I record it manually... it's still "missing").

Somewhere in all those feature requests is the account of a teacher whose students' parents were going to ground the students because of all the assignments the student had (supposedly) missed. I'll let her comment speak for me too; here it is:

Overall, the Missing message is creating more stress. There are literally students who say that their parents are threatening to ground them unless they "get the work in". This notation is literally causing harm and distress in families. It needs to be changed as soon as possible.

PUT IT BACK IN BETA.

Comments from Instructure

For more information, please read through Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-10-07) 

25 Comments
laurakgibbs
Community Champion

See also the comments here at this question asking how to disable the Missing label:

https://community.canvaslms.com/thread/18141-missing-assignments-indicator 

khenscheid
Community Member

Please implement this! If nothing else, the label should go away after a grade is entered for the assignment.

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

That is why I think it is a BUG: when graded assignments are still listed as missing that means the system is broken. There are other serious problems, but because that is clearly a bug, I hope they will roll this back, fix the bugs, and also have a more general discussion about what it means when Canvas intrudes on the Gradebook and puts messages there that we simply do not want.

GregoryBeyrer
Community Champion

Great idea laurakgibbs and  Thank You for combining these ideas. There is great potential for these labels and how they can help students get their work done.

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

Thank you  @GregoryBeyrer  ! I only recently found your Idea documentation; if I had noticed that back in August, it would have forewarn me at least, but August was so hectic, and I missed it at the time. Argh!

Anyway, yes, I agree: there is always room to improve how we communicate with students about grading.

For me, though, I craft that message individually with my students; there is going to be no one-size-fits-all solution that is going to work for me. 

I know all instructors do not have the luxury to work with students individually, though, so what Canvas needs to do is step back and look at the WHOLE RANGE of ways that people want/need to communicate with students about grades, and to do so very carefully.

To have Canvas interfering with my communication with students re: grading is a disaster. Even if the red-ink labels were correct (they are not), I would still opt to hide them. Canvas is giving me help that is not helpful; I do not want it or need it. Red ink is a no-go in my Gradebook. 🙂

thompsli
Community Champion

I'm going to leave the same comment here that I've left everywhere else related to this, in case this is The One Feature Request Actually Read By Devs: just because a grade is entered does not mean that the assignment is no longer "missing".

In the most common case of this, lots of people enter zeroes for things that were not turned in, and would like those assignments flagged as "missing" even after they enter the zero.

Some people also use "balanced grading", where they put in a 30%, 50%, or some other non-zero value for missing assignments. (I don't use this, but some of the other teachers in my building do,  and I know there are schools where this is a school-wide policy.)

(I know I've been one of the biggest complainers/commenters on this whole thing, and the current implementation actually happens to work really well for how teachers in my particular school would like the missing label applied, since we pretty much insist that students submit assignments through Canvas and have relatively few "optional" assignments that should not be marked missing. I'd like to see the current implementation stay as a per-assignment option, but can see the chaos it is causing more widely so would also support having the feature yanked entirely for a re-work even if it meant we didn't have this feature available at all this term. Issue I will be having with this feature as the term goes on: will need ability to manually flag "on paper" assignments as Missing so parents don't get confused by the lack of a "Missing" label next to their kid's zero on a major test if the student does not show up to take one of their proctored exams. I label all of my optional assignments with an "Optional" prefix, so hopefully parents won't become upset if their child has some of those missing, but time will tell.)

laurakgibbs
Community Champion
erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Laura,

As you've noticed throughout several places in the community, the missing label in Canvas has been something on the instructor side that has been requested to be managed better in the Gradebook for a long time. Fortunately that's a behavior that our product team has been made aware of and are working to improve. Most of the feature ideas that exist right now about the missing label (in addition to the five you have referenced above) relate to changes coming to Priority: Gradebook Enhancements and have all been tagged accordingly.

The change to the student Grades page was originally announced in Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-08-05)‌; we did not receive many comments related to the possibility of dual assignment designations. Instead what we heard mostly related to zero-point assignments being treated as extra credit, which is another behavior that can be managed coming soon in Gradebook Enhancements (and yes, there is a feature idea for this). However, we were lacking any specific feedback related to student reactions directly and how more assignments were currently being treated with the either/or mentality. Feedback is always important to us, which is why the release notes are always open to comments during the release cycle. But we know that Canvas moves fast and that you may miss updates in a release! It's happened before and it will probably happen again. Smiley Happy After the cycle has closed, we close the comments for relevancy, but our Canvas Community Feedback Guidelines try to help everyone know where to go to best resolve any outstanding concerns. That document usually results in one of two actions: submitting a feature idea (suggesting new or updated features) or submitting a support case (reporting contrary behavior for existing features).

Unfortunately Canvas has never included an option to have an assignment be submitted either online or on paper. The option makes sense and I can see how you would implement it for your use! However, if you're treating assignments as being optional, Canvas doesn't know. Canvas tries pretty hard to know what you would like it to do, but to Canvas, assignments need to be submitted either online by a student or designated as a no-submission type; assignment results for online assignments are updated in the Gradebook accordingly. Our Canvas Support team was trying their best to help you find a solution based on the existing behaviors in Canvas. Any behavior that points to a feature idea will not be successful through Canvas Support as they do not manage feature ideas and cannot influence product direction, though they are always willing to try and help you find a workaround to your end goal, even if the functionality you desire is not currently supported.

Only recently has the product team been made aware of these dual assignment distinctions via the community that are frustrating students. Our latest beta release notes (Canvas Beta Release Notes (2017-09-25)) indicate that our Gradebook team has removed the missing and late labels for students. Only SpeedGrader still shows the labels, which is the original behavior that existed before the labels were added for students in the August 5 release. So basically we've put everything back the way it was. However, the change made for the upcoming release only applies to the standard Gradebook (the changes noted in beta will apply to production environments on October 7). Anyone using the New Gradebook as part of the focus group will still have labels shown to students; if this is a concern for users of the New Gradebook, the New Gradebook can be turned off if necessary and switched back to the standard Gradebook.

We're glad that Gradebook Enhancements will ultimately bring you the features you can use to manage your assignments and Gradebook however you would like. If you haven't looked into Gradebook Enhancements, I'd encourage you to check it out! The option to manually update missing and late labels on a per-assignment basis will be available before the New Gradebook is made generally available to everyone (announced as early 2018). 

 

I'm sorry that you felt frustrated enough to create many posts and comments in various areas of the community. We create our process guidelines to help us help you—release notes and feature ideas are always the best places to let us know your feedback about a feature, as both of those places have feedback managed directly by members of the Community team, and the feedback is passed back directly to our product managers. But hopefully this upcoming change will alleviate your current concerns! We don't want you to be frustrated and want you to get the answers you are looking for. 

Best to you,

Erin

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

Thank you for all the information, erinhallmark‌! I'm really glad for the discussions that this has surfaced, and I think it has raised a really important tension between features and feature documentation on the one hand and actual teaching practices, practices which are incredibly varied. That's why I will always vote for features that are as flexible as possible in order to accommodate all the practices out there which you will never be able to anticipate in advance.

I think it is especially dangerous when the Canvas software takes upon itself the role of communicating directly to students, leaving teachers out of the equation (and I mean equation both literally and metaphorically). As this incident has shown, extreme caution is required. Canvas is a tool I am glad to use for administrative convenience, but I would never trust Canvas to handle communication with my students. That's because Canvas will NEVER have all the information it would need in order to know, student by student, moment by moment, what communication is best.

So, I hope as we move on out from here there will be some in-depth discussion about what it means to use the Gradebook as a space for collecting data as opposed to using the Gradebook as a space for communicating with students.

I am in favor of more/better ways to use the Gradebook for data, but as a general principle I am going to object to Canvas hijacking the Gradebook to use to communicate directly to my students. As this misadventure shows, you just do not have the knowledge of what is going on classroom by classroom, student by student, to be able to automate communications with students using a one-size-fits-all algorithm. These status labels took the teacher out of the loop, taking away our ability to define the messages going out to the students. For me, that is a huge problem because it undermines the trust I work so hard to build with my students. As I explained in my first blog post about this problem, I knew something was wrong when the students started sending me unhappy emails about Gradebook messages that I knew absolutely nothing about, messages I had never and would never put in the Gradebook. And when my students are unhappy, I am unhappy.

But now I am glad (VERY GLAD) to have the feature suspended at least temporarily, and I also don't want the larger question of "whose Gradebook is it anyway" to get lost here. I think it was  @thompsli ‌ who said something about Canvas overreach in one of the discussions about the status labels, and that's how I would describe it also: Canvas should not be communicating course progress messages to students that are beyond my control. If you create a default system that suits huge numbers of users, that's great, but those of us with atypical teaching practices need to be able to opt out of these intrusive communications.

Pinging  @jared  for this larger discussion, and hoping there will be lots of opportunities for further discussions about grading, data, and feedback to take place here at the Community going forward.

And thank you again for this good news: I will be sharing it with my students in Tuesday's announcements! 🙂

Daily Announcements: MLLL-3043-995 

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team
This idea has been developed and is On Canvas Beta How do I access the Canvas beta environment?

For more information, please read through the Canvas Beta Release Notes (2017-09-25) .

laurakgibbs
Community Champion
erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team
Comments from Instructure

For more information, please read through Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-10-07) 

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team

laurakgibbs Nice Work for submitting this idea, as well as, khenscheid Thank You ,  @thompsli  Thank You  &  @GregoryBeyrer  Thank You  for your contributions. Your investment in this idea helped refine a feature which is now part of Canvas! 

laurakgibbs
Community Champion

And thanks back to everybody at Canvas for listening,  @Renee_Carney ‌! I learned so much from hearing about everybody's experiences with the labels: esp. since Canvas reaches across K-12 and higher ed, there is such a huge range of grading and assessment practices. Without the Community to connect and share, we would never know how huge that range is! 🙂

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team

Very good point!  As crazy at it may seem sometimes to have our feature idea input process so public, there are so many positives to it and you just highlighted one big one.  Having taught in learning management systems/platforms, I know how difficult it can be to see things outside of my own workflow and consider that a feature might need to function differently for someone else!  This forum and community allows those different voices to  share their use cases and work flows and better understand the diversity of users and uses!

thompsli
Community Champion

So, now I have a new problem: one of our teachers (our SpEd teacher) wrote a goal about number of late/missing assignments for some of her students. She had written that this goal would be measured by their student grades page in Canvas using the Missing/Late feature, and it's now in a student's IEP (a legal document that we have to have a complicated meeting in order to change) that this is a goal that will be measured and tracked for this student.

What can we do when this disappears to support her need for this data? She was counting on this feature (since it was deployed to production and she doesn't follow the Canvas Community to know that there were issues with it, I feel that she had no reasonable way to know it wasn't stable when she began relying on it), and I don't actually know how else she can get this information directly from Canvas without each of the teachers providing it to her. She was going to measure her goal using weekly check-ins with the students, I think.

RobDitto
Community Champion

 @thompsli , could your colleague view the LATE/MISSING flags in SpeedGrader and leave students an assignment comment informing them of either status? With an assignment comment, students would have a discussion icon in their view of Grades, which they could follow to see details.

thompsli
Community Champion

Unfortunately, she is not a teacher in the academic courses the goals are about. She teaches an "academic support" class for some of our Special Education students, and some of them have goals as part of their Individual Education Plans around turning in their work on time in their academic courses. 

So, for example, Stu Dent would have a schedule where he takes English 9 from an English teacher, Algebra 1 from a math teacher, Science from a science teacher, and so on. Our SpEd teacher would then look at his student-view grades in all of those classes (which she does not teach and should not have the power to change grades in) to see whether or not Stu is turning in his work on time. 

erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Linnea,

You could always talk to your Canvas admin about enabling the new Gradebook. It can be enabled on a course-by-course basis, so enabling it should not disrupt other courses. The new Gradebook isn't too different from the regular Gradebook, but it does display missing and late labels for students. Missing and late labels apply to online assignment types; they don't apply to on paper types.

Hope that helps,

Erin 

thompsli
Community Champion

I feel that I have still not made my fellow teacher's use case sufficiently clear from the suggestions I am getting, so commence a long example with more silly names!

Sandy SpEd has a student on her caseload, Stu Dent. (Sandy actually has lots of students on her caseload, and all of them will be evenly distributed through the various courses the rest of us teach.)

Stu Dent is enrolled in Marla's Math class, Edith's English class, and Heather's health class. Marla, Edith, and Heather are the teachers of their respective classes and in charge of the gradebooks for those classes (along with all of the other things that go along with teaching a class).

Sandy SpEd is not involved in teaching any of those classes, and is thus not a "teacher" in any of those classes, because her job is to support students on her caseload rather than to teach Math/English/Health/etc. 

Part of Sandy SpEd's job is to write individual, measurable goals for students on her caseload. These goals are set in formal meetings where multiple teachers and the parent are present, and the result is a legal document called an "IEP" that lists what accommodations, modifications, or other supports a student is legally entitled to, what specific goals we have for that student, and assorted other things. (These documents are many pages long, and the meetings tend to take at least an hour in my experience.) Once it's in the IEP, we pretty much have to hold another meeting to change it.

Sandy SpEd tries to write goals that are not only objectively measurable (because that's part of what the law says), but a simple indicator to measure given what the goal should be about so that she can easily get the data herself. 

She has goals (in these legal documents) about missing and late assignments for some specific students, which she wrote in good faith when she saw this feature rolled out to production since she could now easily see which assignments were missing or late. 

We need a way for her, as a non-teacher with admin access, to easily see if specific students have missing or late assignments in any of their classes regardless of who teaches those classes or what features individual teachers do or do not have turned on in their classes. We need this because she built goals for the year based on features present when she was writing her goals but which will now not be present for her when she goes to pull her data. She was planning to get this data by viewing the "grades" page for each student in each class (6-8 pages per student for her to deal with) and needs a way that does not involve clicking in to each assignment for each student to compare due date versus submission date (which would easily be over 50 pages per class per student, or possibly over 800 pages total per student, by the end of the semester).

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