Grading over learning

I know I complain a lot about Canvas, but I do assume that their discussion boards, however limited, will act like discussion boards.

So I set them up for students to post their primary source each week. These are due Wednesday midnight, so that’s the “due date” I set. On Thursday I grade them in Speedgrader, using a rubric. That’s the end of the assignment.

I just discovered, because a student sent me a screenshot, that when they go back to their post, it shows a large green “Re-submit Assignment” button.


Apparently that appears because the forum is still available. The due date doesn’t matter – if the discussion can be seen (is available) the green button implies that you can re-submit your post before that “close” date.

But in my class, you can’t, and I can’t set a close date, because these same boards are used throughout the course to post additional, ungraded primary sources for writing. The discussion is actually a collection of primary sources – it’s just that only the first one is graded. I do NOT come back and regrade every weekly board throughout the whole semester.

But the green button implies that I do, that they can just re-submit. And when they do this, it makes it so they cannot see their original submission. The whole idea is so they can see everyone’s, the whole collection.

So the fact that Canvas lets me grade forum posts, which used to seem a boon, is a nasty trap. It considers such posts “assignments”. In classes which actually have a discussion instead of posting boards, the button implies that you can take back what you’ve said, and say something else, even after it’s been graded. It also implies that everything you say is a “submission”, an “assignment”, rather than a contribution to a conversation. I grade the student’s entire contribution to a discussion, not individual posts. I wanted to grade posts, but Canvas wouldn’t let me, so I designed discussion around the technology. And now the technology undermines that by emphasizing grades over conversation.

This is similar to the new red buttons shouting “Late” and “Missing” on student work, even when a student is given options to do things, or was permitted to do something late. Canvas is leaning toward not only grading everything, but forcing the primacy of grades over the activities for learning, which may also happen to be graded. That’s not helpful.

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