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Create assignments in Canvas

When students are to perform a graded task in a course, it is good to have an “Assignment” for it in Canvas, even if the assessment is not performed in Canvas. Here you can read about how to use the “Assignment” function in Canvas.

Tip: Sometimes students have issues with submitting assignments. If submissions for assignments are not working, ask the students to clear their cache memory or use a different browser.

The text editor in Canvas (RCE)

The text editor in Canvas is called Rich Content Editor (RCE) and is used by almost all functions in Canvas, except New Quizzes.

If you would like to know more about it you can read about the RCE on Canvas Community.  

Note: Always use the built-in features to import images, files and special characters. If you copy anything other than plain text into the text editor, there is a risk that it will not be saved correctly.

Receive and assess assignments in Canvas

The most common use of Assignments in Canvas is for assignments that will be assessed manually, i.e. assignments that cannot be automatically corrected like a quiz. Examples of what is suitable for assignments are lab reports, essays or bonus point submissions.

Gather all assignment information in the assignment

Assignments are shown in the students' To-do list based on their due date and disappear from the list once they have submitted the assignment. Students often go directly from the To-do list to the assignment, so we recommend that you make sure that the assignment has all the information the students need in the assignment text. If you have the information outside the assignment text, it is recommended to link to it instead.

File upload should be limited to standards

If you use assignments with file upload, it is recommended that you limit which file types that are accepted to standard ones, such as PDF or PNG, to ensure that you can read the submissions. If you wish to allow the students to submit through their webcams, then the files are commonly JPG or PNG.

Note: We recommend that you test the submission with your students before limiting it. Remember that the students can run different operating systems than you, and thus could use different file types. For example, Mac uses .HEIC-files for images which Windows cannot read without a special program.

Restore course content

When changes in course content go wrong, courses accidently gets reset or course materials are deleted, there are ways to restore and undo changes in Canvas. You can do a lot yourself, but more complicated recoveries require the involvement of the IT support.

Read more about Restore and recover course content in Canvas .

Video tutorial on Assignments

Canvas has a video that goes through how assignments are created and edited. Timestamps for the information are below the video, and there is a text version of the video (Google docs) .

Timestamps for the information in the video

  • 00:10 - Open assignments, index page for assignments
  • 00:25 - Assignment groups, options menu
  • 01:05 - Grading rules, assignment group weight
  • 02:05 - Create a new assignment, add contents, assignment settings
  • 03:15 - Due date, availability dates

Structure assignments with modules

It is possible to create some structure on the index page for assignments, but we recommend creating the structure with modules instead.

The benefits of using modules are:

  • Modules have structural options such as text headings, indents, time locks and requirements.
  • It is possible to mix assignments, pages, discussions, links, files and external tools in the same module.
  • Students can go directly from one assignment to another in the module by pressing the “Next” or “Previous” button.
  • The modules can be named more freely as they are not shown on the students’ grades (unlike the assignment groups name).

Read more on the usage of modules on the page Modules in Canvas

Regardless of whether you choose to use the index page for Assignments or Modules, the recommendation is that only one of them is displayed in the course navigation menu. If you want to know how to hide something in the course navigation menu, read more on Course settings .

Assess external assignments in Canvas

Some courses have elements that cannot be assessed based on submissions in Canvas, for example an oral presentation/discussion, a social media campaign or the results of a robot run. At E-learning we recommended that these elements are also added as assignments in Canvas so that the students get all of their assessment in the same place, and also to make the transfer of Canvas assessments to grades in Ladok easier through the Transfer to Ladok function

An assignment without submission is created by choosing the option “No submission” in the drop-down menu of what submission forms are accepted. Clearly name the assignment when you create it, for your sake and your students, and add the assessments through “Gradebook”. It is also possible to import a CSV-file with the results if they already exist in that format. 

Read more on importing CSV-files on the page about the Gradebook .

Tip: The assignment will appear in the To do list according to the due date, so this approach will give students a reminder in Canvas.

Special activated settings

Besides standard settings for assignments, it is also possible to activate extended options under “Settings” in the course navigation menu, under the tab “Feature Options”. Note that the activation of these functions will only activate the possibility to use them for a specific assignment, even though the descriptions suggest that they will be activated for every assignment automatically.

  • Anonymous instructor annotations: Everything a teacher writes with the annotation tool on submitted assignments is anonymous. Does not include assignment comments.  
  • Anonymous grading: The names of the students are anonymized. If “Moderated grading” is activated, the other assessor’s names can also be anonymized.
  • Moderated grading: Allows a responsible assessor to review given assessments for all or some selected submissions.

Functions connected to assignments

Assessment of assignments is central to Canvas and there are therefore several different functions linked to assignments.

Assessment with outcomes

Once the assignment has been saved, you can choose to add a rubric of outcomes for feedback and assessment. This enables you to assess the assignment directly linked to the outcomes in both a formative or a summative way.

Read more about The Outcomes function in Canvas .

Feedback through SpeedGrader

A file submission through Assignments provides access to annotation tools in SpeedGrader. You as a teacher can make notes in the document itself and write comments where they are needed, and write an overall comment for the whole document in a separate text box. Students can see these comments and notes when the grade on the submitted assignment is posted.

Read more about SpeedGrader in Canvas .

Peer review

Submitted assignments in Canvas can be assigned to one or more students in the course room for peer feedback with the function “Peer review”. Students gain access to the same tools that you as a teacher have when assessing and the student that receives the peer feedback can see all feedback. If you as a teacher want to give a grade for the peer feedback, it is possible, but requires some extra work. 

Read more on the page about peer review

Use assignment groups for sorting and weighting

Assignment groups allow you as a teacher to sort similar assignments in named groups to make it easier to navigate through all assignments in a course, and students can see the assignments groups and which assignments belong to each group under Grades.

It is also possible to weight assignment groups, which gives them a percentage value of the course's total grade. In Assignment, at the three points in the top right, you can decide how important an Assignment group is for the final result by specifying the percentage for how the group's results are going to be calculated to the total result. In Gradebook you can, at the far right, see your Assignments groups and how they are weighed together.

Note! The total percentage for assignment groups can be over or under 100%. Be careful when editing assignment groups so that the total percentage is 100. This makes the gradebook clearer for the students.

See an example of a weighting of grades with assignment groups on the page about the Gradebook .

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Last changed: Nov 19, 2021