Canvas End-of-Term Grading Checklist

The following checklist has been designed to help your end-of-term grading run smoothly.

1.) Download and Save the Current Version of the Canvas Gradebook

It’s a best practice to download and save a course’s Canvas gradebook before entering final grades. Here are instructions for how to download the Canvas gradebook:

How do I bulk download Assignment submissions in Canvas?

For a longer discussion of why downloading and saving a course’s gradebook is a best practice, please see:

Best Practices: Downloading the Gradebook at the End of the Term

2.) Finish Entering Grades in Canvas

Depending on the type of assignment or “quiz” (exam, test, quiz, or survey), you may have a several feedback and grading options. To learn about these options, please see the Grades and SpeedGrader sections of the Canvas Instructor Guide.

Woman frustrated  in front of laptop.

Avoid grading headaches by following these simple steps!

3.) Unmute All Assignments and Quizzes

Muting in Canvas is when you hide feedback and grades from students. If you have used muting throughout the semester, you should double-check see if all of your assignments and quizzes are unmuted. Not only will you want to unmute assignments so students can receive your feedback and grade, but you will also want to unmute assignments and quizzes for the total grade that your students see in their Canvas grade summaries so that it match the course grade you enter in Courses InTouch (CIT). If you don’t unmute assignments and quizzes, your students will not see their real total course grade in Canvas, as it will not include their muted assignments.

For more information about muting and an in-depth explanation with screenshots of why you should unmute your assignments and quizzes at the end of the semester, please see:

Hiding Grades from Students

4.) Download and Save the Final Version of the Gradebook

Please see the instructions in the first step. It’s a good idea to keep both versions of the gradebook–pre-final grading and post-final grading–for your records.

5.) Upload the Gradebook to Courses InTouch (CIT)

Follow the directions at to upload your grades to Courses InTouch. (See Section 13.4 “Uploading a Grade Roster”).


Please email or click on Help > Report a Problem from inside Canvas for assistance.

Best Practices: Downloading the Gradebook at the End of the Term

The Best Practices series focuses on what instructors and students can do to effectively use Canvas. You’re welcome to contact Courseware Support at if you have any questions about best practices.

Why Should You Download and Save Your Canvas Gradebook?

Here are two scenarios that answer this question–

Finger turning back minute hand on a clock.

Because you can’t turn back the clock to undo a mistake, you should download and and save the gradebook to prevent one from happening.

1. Grade Offline: I’m an instructor entering grades into the Canvas gradebook. All of a sudden, my browser crashes. When I open the browser again and navigate back to the gradebook, I find that none of the grades were saved. At first I panic because I need to submit grades to Courses InTouch (CIT) in a few hours. Then, I remember that I had downloaded and saved a copy of my gradebook a few minutes before the browser crashed. I learned in a Canvas Workshop that I should always download and save a Canvas gradebook when making substantial changes to it, so I decided to do this after I had finished entering grades for an assignment. I’m relieved to find that the most recent version of the gradebook I saved contained all the grades I entered, and I’m able to upload this saved gradebook to restore them.

2. Fix Major Errors:  I’m a TA who misread the instructor’s rubric and wound up grading assignment submissions incorrectly, and I’ve caught my mistake 3/4s of the way through grading. I learned from a Canvas Workshop that it’s a good idea to download and save a copy of a Canvas gradebook before making major edits just in case something like this happens, so I made sure to do this before I got started. It’s a good thing I did, because now all I have to do is upload the saved gradebook copy to Canvas to restore the original gradebook.

How Do You Download Your Canvas Gradebook?

You can follow these instructions to download your Canvas site’s gradebook:

How do I bulk download Assignment submissions in Canvas?

When Should You Download and Save Your Canvas Gradebook?

  • Before you make substantial edits to the gradebook (adding new grades, changing grades, deleting grades, etc.)
  • When you want to edit the gradebook in the future but won’t have Internet access
  • At the end of the semester before you submit grades to Courses InTouch (CIT)

What Can You Do with a Saved Copy of Your Canvas Gradebook?

  • Upload it to Canvas after making edits offline or to restore an earlier version of a gradebook by following these instructions:

How do I bulk upload Assignment submissions in Canvas?

  • Save it at the end of the semester for academic-records-keeping purposes.

 Want Learn More about Grading in Canvas?

We’re happy to answer any grading questions you have. Please email or click on Help > Report a Problem from inside Canvas for assistance.  If you’d like in-person assistance, then please sign up for our Canvas Office Hours. Instructors, TAs, graders, and staff who are new to grading in Canvas are encouraged  to sign up for our next Assessment and Grading in Canvas Workshop, which is on Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 10:00am – 11:30am. For documentation on grading in Canvas, please see Grades in the Canvas Instructor Guide.

Do You Know Students Should Only Use Supported Browsers for Exams in Canvas?

The Do You Know? series provides tips for working with quirks in Canvas. Please email Courseware Support at if you have any questions.

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth A Pound of Cure

Woman typing and reading.

With the final exam period starting on Friday, December 12th, I’d like to remind our readers who are giving exams in Canvas to have their students make sure they’re using browser versions Canvas supports. An easy way to do this would be to share the following link in an email, Canvas announcement, Conversation message, or anywhere else your students can see it before they take your exam:

Which Browsers Does Canvas Support?

By taking this preventative measure, your students will have a better chance of retrieving lost answers should catastrophe strike.

“Help! The Internet Ate My Exam!”

Power goes out. Wi-fi networks fail. Things get unplugged.  These and any number of other unforeseen disasters occurring during your exam can cause your students to lose their answers before they submit. The risks are greater if students take the exam in an unproctored, unsupported environment (e.g., a coffee shop). The makers of Canvas understand these risks well and have created a backup mechanism to reduce the possibility of lost answers. While it’s not 100% guaranteed to retrieve lost answers, it’s proven to be quite effective.  But here’s the catch–

The backup mechanism only works for exams taken in supported browsers.

If a student using an unsupported browser loses their Internet connection, their answers will not be saved because the backup mechanism won’t work. Telling your students they need to make sure Canvas supports their browser-of-choice will help stop this from happening.

Other Suggestions

We also recommend sharing this information with your students before they take your exam:

Canvas Computer Specifications

If your students need assistance, they can contact Courseware Support at or by clicking on Help > Report a Problem in Canvas.

Canvas Production Release: Saturday, December 6, 2014

Canvas operates on a three-week release cycle through which features are added or updated. Courseware Support posts highlights from Canvas’s production release notes, a link to these notes, and other relevant content to the Canvas at Penn blog a few days before the production release, which usually occurs on Saturdays. Please contact Courseware Support at if you have any questions about an upcoming production release.

12/06/14 Production Release Highlights:

  • Conversations: Users can filter messages in Conversations to view comments posted on assignment submissions. This feature restores user functionality of viewing submission comments in the Conversations Inbox.
  • Correct Answers for Multiple Attempts in Quizzes: Instructors who create a quiz with more than one allowed attempt can restrict students from seeing the correct answers until after their last attempt. If an instructor allows students to view the correct answers, this additional option only appears if the “Allow Multiple Attempts” and “Allowed Attempts” check-boxes are both selected as quiz options.
  • Crocodoc Previews in SpeedGrader: SpeedGrader provides instructors with updates about Crocodoc files. If a submission includes a file that can be rendered in Crocodoc, but the submission preview is not complete, SpeedGrader generates a message stating the document is still processing.

For a complete production release update, see:

12/06/14 Canvas Production Release Notes Featuring Inbox Submission Comments and Quiz Statistics

12.06.2014 New Feature Screencast from Instructure on Vimeo.

Feature Highlight: Analytics in Canvas

What are Analytics?

Numbers representing analyticsAnalytics presents logged activity by users in various components of a Canvas course. Course Analytics takes a three-pronged approach to creating substantive data for Canvas users.

  • Justification focuses on system reports and how the system is being used.
  • Intervention looks to predict at-risk students and how to meet their needs.
  • Learning focuses on learning outcomes, the effectiveness of the teaching style, and the division of time between students achieving competence and those falling behind.

For more information please see:

What kind of Analytics does Canvas track for students?

Canvas tracks page views, participation, assignments, and grades for students through the Analytics tool.

Canvas also tracks the Last Activity and Total Activity in a Course. Last Activity refers to how often students interact with the course and Total Activity refers to how long students interact within a course and is associated with page views. Total activity requires a two-minute page view minimum for performance. Note: This does not capture page views for videos that do not include intermediate page requests, such as a half-hour recorded lecture. This information is accessible to instructors under the People tool. For more information please see:

How should Analytics in Canvas be used?

Your students may wonder if or how Analytics will be used in your Canvas sites (e.g., for grading participation), so it is best to be as transparent as possible about analytics. We recommend instructors outline in their Syllabus expectations for students’ site activity, or any weight that analytics will have on grading.

Is there other data that Canvas tracks?

Canvas includes timestamps for all submissions to Canvas tools like Discussions, Assignments, and Quizzes. Additionally tools like Quizzes include information like the Average Time the assessment took to complete and time to completion for each user.

Is there anything else to know about the Analytics that Canvas tracks?

Currently, Analytics does not measure activity on mobile devices.

Who can I contact for questions about Analytics?

The Penn Canvas Support team would be happy to answer any questions. You can reach us at:

Do You Know an Unpublished Module Affects Its Published Items?

The Do You Know? series provides tips for working with quirks in Canvas. Please email Courseware Support at if you have any questions.

Unpublished Modules

An unpublished module with published items.

An unpublished module with published items.

Canvas modules appear in an unpublished state by default. Students cannot see anything that’s unpublished, so a module must be published for students to see it.

Published Items in an Unpublished Module

It would seem that published items in an unpublished module should be available to students through the items’ primary content areas in a Canvas site. For example, a file in an unpublished modules seems like it should be available in a site’s “Files” area or through a file link in another area like a Page. This is not the case, however, because–

Published items in an unpublished module are not available to students at all.

If a student tries accessing such an item in another Canvas area, they will receive a message saying the item is unavailable because it’s in an unpublished module.


This is what a student sees after trying to access a published assignment that’s in an unpublished module.

Tip: Check Unpublished Modules for Items You Want Students to Access

If you’re concerned that your unpublished modules contain published items you want students to access, look at your modules and, if you find such items, do one of the following:

1.) Delete the item from the module. You can do this by following these instructions:

How do I remove Module items?

Please note that deleting a module item only delete the link to that item in the module; it doesn’t delete the item from your course. If you want to delete an item from your course, you will need to do this in the item’s primary area (e.g., delete a file in the “Files” area of your course).

2.) Move the item to a published module. You can do this by following these instructions:

How do I reorder Module items?

Please Reach Out If You Need Help!

We hope this information makes the module-item-access quirk easier for you to manage. If you have any questions, please email Courseware Support at

Best Practices: Hiding Course Navigation Buttons

The Best Practices series focuses on what instructors and students can do to effectively use Canvas. You’re welcome to contact Courseware Support at if you have any questions about best practices.

Do You Know Where Your Students Are (in Canvas)?


Canvas’s navigation options prevent students from getting lost in your site.

Perhaps you’ve never asked this question, but it’s worth considering. While one of Canvas’s strengths is its numerous tools and features, a byproduct of these options, depending on how you’ve structured your site, are extraneous navigation buttons. Unused navigation buttons–just the ones with black text, not the ones with gray (more on this later)–divert students from the content you’ve added. For example, if you’ve ever wondered why you have a button called Collaborations and don’t intend to use it, then it’s probably safe to assume your students are wondering about it, too. For students, wondering may lead to wandering, as in clicking on this and other buttons and finding areas unpopulated with course materials but present and visible nonetheless. Retracing one’s steps in Canvas is easy (the course navigation bar appears in all areas of a course), but so is customizing your navigation bar to hide buttons to unused areas, and doing the latter can stop students from getting lost in your site.

How to Hide Course Navigation Buttons

You can hide Course Navigation Buttons by following these instructions:

How do I reorder and hide Course Navigation links?

Other Reasons to Edit Your Course’s Navigation Bar

  • Customize the default order to display buttons according to your preference.
  • Hide the Files button. The “Files” area can’t be organized–all files and folders automatically display alphabetically and, if numbered, ASCIIbetically (1, 11, 12, 2, 27, 3 . . .). We recommend using Modules or Pages to organize files and other course content and just treating files as a document repository for instructors, TAs, and course builders.

Why Some Buttons are Black and Others Are Gray

Upon first entering your Canvas site, before you’ve made any edits, the course navigation bar looks like:


Course navigation bar in a new Canvas site.

The black buttons are visible to your students, and the gray buttons aren’t (to see this for yourself, take at look a your site in Student View by following these instructions: How do I access Student View?).  As you add content to areas in your site, the corresponding navigation buttons go from gray to black. Here’s an example from a site with content in most areas:


Course navigation bar with content added.

When you hide a navigation button it goes from black to gray, indicating that it’s no longer visible to your students.  Here’s an example of the same course navigation bar pictured directly above with several buttons hidden:


Course navigation bar with hidden buttons.

Keep Track of Your Buttons

If you aren’t sure why a button is gray, first check to see if it’s hidden. If it’s not hidden, click on the button and verify that the area doesn’t have any content. If you’re working in a content area and notice a button is gray, or if a student says they can’t access an area that you know has content, check to see if it’s hidden and, if it is, make it visible if you want students to enter the area.

Please Note

You can’t change the text on a button. Also, you can’t add buttons to the navigation bar, neither to unlisted areas of a Canvas site (e.g., “Groups) nor for external web links.

Don’t Button Up–Please Share!

If you think you’re colleagues would benefit from this information, then please share it with them. If you have any questions, please contact Courseware Support at