Ugh! I hate the new gradebook in Canvas. They’ve gooped up what used to be a simple, easy interface by adding new layers of nuisance pointing-and-clicking…just like Blackboard.
It used to be that when you finished grading a paper in Word (I use Word’s track changes to show edits and enter comments), you could go to the appropriate cell in the grading spreadsheet, click on it, enter the grade, and straightaway upload the graded paper as an attachment. That was fast and easy.
You had an option of using the Speedgrader pane, which allows you to read the paper in Canvas but which does not offer the kind of sophisticated mark-up you can do in Track Changes — all you can do is enter comments, which means instead of showing a student where an apostrophe should go, you would have to write out an explanation: “Enter an apostrophe before the ‘s’ to make this possessive.” Right. We’ve all got lots of time to do that over and over and over again…
In the old Canvas grade sheet, you didn’t have to do that. Now, though, to enter a grade and upload a file, you HAVE to click through to Speedgrader, even if you don’t use it.
Consider what this does to your workload.
1. Click on the cell for the student’s assignment
2. Click again to go to Speedgrader
3. Enter student’s grade
4. Enter a message to the student
5. Click to upload file
6. Navigate to file
7. Select file
8. Upload file
9. Submit grade and attachment
Nine actions for every grade; that would be 225 mind-numbing actions for any given class with an enrollment of 25.
Something similar happens when you copy a course into a Canvas shell and then go to change the due dates to fit the new semester. Just to change a date…
1. Open an assignment
2. Select “options”
3. On the calendar icon, click through the months from the spring semester’s due date to the fall semester’s due date: that’s 5 clicks
4. Do the same for the “make available” date: 5 more clicks
5. Do the same for the “make unavailable” date: 5 more clicks
6. Click “Update”
The English 102 section I just prepped for the fall semester asks students to write 11 “reading reviews,” 3 full-length papers, and two extra credit projects, for a total of 16 assignments to enter in the course shell.
16 assignments x 18 steps = 288 mind-numbing steps
And all you’re doing is inscribing the new due dates in the website. It doesn’t include writing the weekly announcement, posting dates for those (16 weeks x 6 clicks per announcement = another 96 steps!).
It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re talking about 384 steps — assuming you don’t make an error and have to back up and do something over again — it gets to be quite time-consuming. And I use the term “mind-numbing” advisedly.
That doesn’t include writing the required 26-page syllabus with the required redundant calendar of due dates that repeats the list of assignments with their descriptions and due dates. It doesn’t include sitting down with a hard-copy calendar and figuring out when these things should come due. It doesn’t include designing the assignments in the first place, or writing and posting t he auxiliary course materials, or writing and posting the rubrics.
All of it is free labor. Adjuncts at my school are not paid for course prep and grading. We’re paid solely for our presence in the classroom.
The syllabus writing and the assignment design and the calendar-juggling, of course, can’t be blamed on Canvas or on Blackboard. But the clumsy, unnecessary web design that requires click after click after click of everyone, even those who desire not to use x or y feature, certainly can be. Especially since we’ve seen, in an earlier version, that said frantic clicking is unnecessary.
Guys! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!