Desire2Learn(D2L) Assignment Grader is an iPad app created by D2L to enable the grading of dropbox assignments. It synchronizes with Springboard and provides mobile, offline, access to dropbox submissions. Some of the features and benefits of Assignment Grader are:
- Grade submissions while offline and sync grades later.
- Annotate and markup documents for student review without additional steps or applications.
- Utilize existing rubrics.
- Provide audio and video feedback.
Table of Contents
Getting Started with Assignment Grader
Start by downloading the app from the App Store. The app is free to download, though it does require a free D2L EduDentity account to unlock all of the features of the app.
Once the app is installed, tap the icon to open it. Before you can use the app, you’ll be prompted to Log in to Learning Environment or Log in with EduDentity. To utilize all of the features of the app, including the ability to view Office documents, you will need to log in with both. Start by logging in to the learning environment (i.e. Springboard). Enter https://springboard.uakron.edu as the learning environment URL and tap Connect.
You’ll be brought to the Springboard login page. Enter your UANet ID (1) and password (2) and login (3) is you normally would.
After logging in, you’ll be able to start using the app with limited functionality. For complete access to all features, you can connect to (or create) a free EduDentity account. If you need to create an account, we recommend using your UA email address.
After signing in with your EduDentity account, the app will load all of your available dropboxes. Please note that only dropboxes with user submissions will be displayed. Also note that all active courses may be displayed, even those from previous semesters.
Before you start grading any assignments, we recommend updating some of the settings. To access the settings, tap on the “gear” icon at the top-right corner of the app. We recommend turning on the option to Auto-Submit Feedback. Depending on the types of materials your students are submitting, you may want to increase the File Size Limit. The default limit is 4.0 MB. If your students are submitting image-heavy documents, you may want to increase that to 10.0 MB or even 20.0 MB.
Grading and Adding Feedback
Dropboxes are organized by course. Since multiple courses may appear in Assignment Grader, the app will display the course number with the name.
To start adding feedback, tap on the assignment you want to grade. You’ll be taken to a view of all of the student submissions sorted by alphabetical order. You’ll be able to see when the student submitted along with their ungraded/graded status.
To add feedback, just tap on the name of the student you want to grade. The feedback view will list all of a student’s submitted files on the left. Tapping on the left column will expand it to display greater detail. The center column will display the student’s work. The right-most column, which is collapsed by default, includes all of the feedback tools. Depending on the file type, tools to annotate and mark the document will appear in this column.
When logged in with a D2L EduDentity account, the list of supported documents includes:
- Word, Powerpoint and Excel
- Pages and Keynote
- Text and RTF
- JPEG, GIF and PNG
- Audio playback for MP4, MP3 and MOV
Types of Feedback
In addition to a numeric score and written feedback, many files can be annotated in much the same way you might markup a printed assignment. You can use your finger or stylus to draw and write on a document. You can even change the color and size of the “pen”. You can also highlight text, add typed notes, underline text and strike-through text.
Annotated files, voice feedback and video feedback are returned to the student as a downloadable files.
If you have a rubric linked to your dropbox, the rubric is available within the app. You choose the level (points) and provide any relevant feedback. The grade and feedback will be transferred to the appropriate fields, just like the normal Springboard site.
After saving and recording the assessment from the rubric, the score and feedback will be automatically copied back to the previous screen.
A brief audio or video message can also be included. The app limits audio feedback to 5 minutes.
If you have turned on the option to Auto-Submit Feedback, you can return to the list of users (i.e. students). Your feedback will automatically be submitted. Eventually. In practice, we’ve found that the auto-submit feature is very slow to publish feedback to Springboard. If you want your feedback to publish immediately, you can tap on the Not Published button at the top-right corner of the screen. The icon will change text to say Publishing while the feedback is submitted. Once it is done, the icon will read as Graded.
When you return to the list of users, the grade and the status of any annotated files to be uploaded will be displayed.
Note: In practice, we’ve discovered that the file upload status is not accurate. While the app will insist that the files haven’t been uploaded, they often have been uploaded to Springboard. Logging into Springboard on your computer will allow you to view the Published feedback. Chances are, you’ll see the grade you posted, the feedback and the annotated file(s) and any audio or video feedback.
Sync Errors and Other Problems
If you look at the app store reviews, the D2L Assignment Grader app is not well loved. As of February 10th, 2014, the app has a 2-star rating. Looking at the reviews will display a large number of 1-star reviews. The app, in all honesty, is beleaguered by problems.
You will find that after you log into the app for the first time, you will receive a sync error whenever you try to re-synchronize the app. This is a known issue with the current version of D2L that UA is running. D2L has addressed the issue with an update that UA will install in the near future.
Until UA updates, there is only one known way to re-sync your dropboxes. To do so, you will need to delete the app from your device, re-download it and log back in to Springboard and your EduDentity account. To say that this is inconvenient is an understatement. Do not delete the app unless you have published all of your student feedback. When you delete the app, all of your unpublished feedback and settings will be deleted. Steps on deleting an app can be found here: http://support.apple.com/kb/TI135