Academic Technology - Florida State College at Jacksonville

Academic Technology

Canvas New Feature Releases: September 21, 2019

Canvas Releases, EdTech, LMSRobyn Reese

Instructure will perform its monthly release of new features to Canvas on Saturday, September 21. This month’s feature release is intended to increase grading efficiency for teams of instructors who administer large classes—the ability to SpeedGrade by group. Prior to going into the details of this feature, it is worth mentioning that Canvas provides new features to all of its users on the third Saturday of every month, without interrupting access to the system. More information about how Canvas releases work can be found here. Now, let’s look at this month’s change!

The ability to SpeedGrade by group is designed for large courses— the kind that you might find in your large university’s biggest lecture hall. The idea here is to provide an instructor (or team of instructors) with a better way to manage grading in these courses by forcing the SpeedGrader to only focus on a smaller, instructor-defined, segment of the overall population. So, if you are on a team of teachers who share a Canvas course shell but divide responsibility for grading different groups of students, this can help to streamline your workflow by making it more focussed.

Enabling this Feature

In order to use this feature, the course’s instructor(s) must first do two things: create a group set in the People panel (more information about how to do this can be found here) and enable the feature in the Settings tab of the course (more on this in the paragraph below). If you already have groups arranged in your course for a group project or other student work, there is no need to set up a new group set, though you can do so if you would like to have a separate grouping of students just for grading purposes.

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Though this feature is available in any course regardless of its size, it is not automatically available by default (like many other features of Canvas). To enable it, visit the Settings menu and ensure that you are looking at the Course Details tab. Then, scroll down to the approximate middle of the page and you will see the Large Course option, as shown to the left. After checking the box, click Update Course Details at the bottom of the menu.

Using this Feature

After enabling the Large Course SpeedGrader, when you visit the SpeedGrader via the link in the Assignments tray in the Grade book, you will not be able to access assignments for grading until you change the view to filter for a specific group. Instead, you will be provided with the alert message displayed in blue below.


In order to use the SpeedGrader, you will need to change the grade book view to filter for the group that you would like to grade, as shown in the image below. It is important to know that, once you have filtered for a specific group, you will ONLY see that group when you move from assignment to assignment until you change the set “view” filter to another group of students. So, if you are responsible for grading all of the student submissions in a course, be sure to change the group filter often to ensure you are not overlooking submissions that still need attention.


Individual assignments function similarly when the instructor attempts to access the SpeedGrader from the individual assignments page, as shown below. The instructor must make a group selection in order to enable to SpeedGrader link. Note that, when the SpeedGrader is accessed from an individual discussion or quiz page, there is no option to filter by groups.


Questions? Please reach out to the Educational Technology Team by emailing