Using Assignments in Moodle

This page has been updated to reflect the Moodle 3.9 upgrade

***The content on this page will be continually updated.

Last updated: November 13, 2020, 5:46 p.m.

Moodle is a very efficient way of collecting and facilitating the grading of assignments. Once an assignment is set up, Moodle automatically sets up an assignment "dropbox" where students submit date-stamped electronic files directly into the Moodle. Most of the benefits of using the Assignment feature are administrative, but it can be very helpful in streamlining the assignment workflow in the following ways:

  • submission and feedback/grade more accessible to students
  • records for both students and instructors about assignment submission and status; no "lost" papers
  • facilitates assignment collection and feedback
  • more efficient grading

Assignment submission types

There are three ways for students to submit assignments:

Grading assignments & giving feedback

There is a lot of flexibility for instructors to grade assignments using Moodle. They can either download files to their computer and do it offline, or they can do all the grading directly in Moodle. You will need to determine how you will grade when you are setting up the Assignment activity in Moodle in order to enable the desired functionality.

Grading options using Assignment

Moodle offers three options to grade.

Options for giving feedback in Assignments

There are several ways of giving feedback using the Moodle Assignment activity. It is important to make sure you have checked the format(s) you would like to use when you set up the course so that the options are available as you begin grading.


Feedback comments

This option provides a box at the bottom of the grading page Moodle to write overall comments about the assignment.

Annotate PDF

This option allows for instructors to mark up PDF submissions within the grading page by highlighting, commenting etc. No downloading of files is necessary to mark up individual submissions. Note this feature only works with PDF submissions, so if you prefer this feedback method, you will need to tell students to submit PDF documents. Most word processing programs (including free cloud editors like Google Docs) allow for options to save/export as PDF. You can also point students to a number of free online conversion tools.

Feedback files

This option allows for instructors to upload a file (any type) to give individual students as feedback that can be dragged in or uploaded as part of a bulk upload. The uploaded file may be their original submission with your suggestions, comments, etc. or it may be a different document that you created for that particular student.

Offline grading worksheet

Although not specifically for giving feedback, the offline grading worksheet offers a way to input grades for each student into an spreadsheet so that you do not need to grade directly into Moodle. To use the worksheet, first you download the blank sheet in Moodle, complete your grading at your leisure, then upload the sheet to Moodle. It then directs the grades to individual students.

Online Poodll

This option provides a built-in audio recorder at the bottom of the Moodle grading page to record audio feedback. This is a great way of giving lots of feedback to students in a very efficient way.

Setting up Assignments in Moodle

Tips for creating accessible assignments

When designing assignments, it's important to keep in mind some other principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in order to make it as accessible as possible. When following the principles of UDL, generally there will be less need to make individual accommodations; thus saving you time and effort later. Some basic things you do to make the assignment accessible:

  • Write clear directions - as if you were having a conversation with a student, so they don’t read like a textbook.
  • Create an informal two-minute explainer video to flesh out some details of an assignment and answer FAQs
  • Provide a rubric the rubric in advance (this can be done if using a Moodle Rubric ).
  • Share examples of student work (one excellent example and other average). These can be attached as files in the Assignment set up.
  • Provide options on the delivery format where suitable (i.e. video, poster, academic paper, info graphic, white paper, etc.). Moodle will accept any kind of file, so just make sure you will be able to open submitted files on your own computer.
  • Provide "soft" and "hard" due dates.  The soft due date is the due date for most students, but any students who need additional time (regardless of the reason) may have the extension without needing to ask. This will save you time and effort later so that you will not need to respond to individual emails and make separate accommodations.

Further resources

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