If you’ve ever had trouble with students submitting Google Docs or other Drive files in response to a Canvas Assignment, this information may help.

According to Chris Long in his article “A better way to submit Google Drive Docs and SpeedGrade them,” Canvas actually asks the Google API to convert the file to it’s Microsoft Office-equivalent format. Slides become .pptx, Docs become .docx and Sheets become .xlsx.

Canvas Uploading Submission Dialog

Sometimes, Google takes a little too long with the conversion. When that happens, the connection times out and the process just stops. Students don’t know whether their assignment submitted successfully. They may tell you “Nothing happened” or “it didn’t work.”

Worse, sometimes during the conversion process, text formatting may get distorted or changed. Obviously, if your students are following a particular essay format for part of their grade, that’s a problem. These converted files can also take a long time to load in SpeedGrader.

You can fix all these issues by allowing your students to submit native Google files instead of problematic conversions. When you set up your assignment, make your submission type “Website URL.”

Website URL is checked as the Online Entry Option for Online submission

Changing this setting turns off the Google Docs tab in the Canvas assignment submission window. Now you’ll be able to see the actual Google file in SpeedGrader and even use Google’s commenting tools to provide feedback to students, while also using Canvas features like media comments, text comments and rubrics (Crocodoc annotations won’t work though).

Check out Chris Long’s screenshot of a Google Doc in SpeedGrader

All you need now are student submission instructions, and Chris has you covered. He writes: “The first time I have students do this, I walk them through it. After that they are usually pros at it. I made a slide guide to share with the Canvas Community and you all are welcome to put a link to it in your assignment instructions.”

See: How to Submit Your Google Drive Files in Canvas (for students)

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