Picking a rubric in Canvas should not be so frustrating that it makes me want to blog about it… and yet here we are.

In general, I find Canvas a fairly decent system, but after a particularly frustrating hour wrestling with rubrics, I decided to spend two more hours blogging about my frustrations. 

I would expect a drop-down list to be populated with all the rubrics I’ve already created for my current class, and it would be a nice touch if the rubric I used last were pre-selected.

Instead, when I

  1. start from an unpublished discussion assignment
  2. click the shiskebab menu
  3. select “Show Rubric” 
  4. Click “Find a Rubric”
  5. What I get is a bafflingly blank long page, that I have to view thorugh a tiny window.

What, exactly, am I looking at?  

I expect to see a list of the rubrics I’ve already created for the course I’m working on.  

Of course I can resize the tiny window so it stretches to the top and bottom of my monitor…

… but I still don’t see what, exactly, I’m looking at.


On the left we see a list of what seems to be every course in which I’ve ever created a rubric — including the 8 times I taught section 02 of EL200 — a course that we no longer offer. (There doesn’t seem to be any way I can collapse or sort or cull this long list.)

If I scroll up to the top, here’s what I see:

Again, what am I looking at? Is the page still loading?

In the upper right corner that bit of text says “Manage Rubrics,” which is not exactly what I want to do — I want to select one a particular rubric that I just created a few minutes ago. But maybe “Manage Rubrics” will help? I’ll click it.

I’ve now left the assignment I was editing, and I find myself on a page that lets me edit or delete rubrics, which is perfectly nice. But remember what I wanted to do was select the rubric I had just created, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to attach a rubric to the assignment I was editing a minute ago.

So I have to navigate back to the assignment I was editing, and click the kebab menu > Show Rubric > Find a Rubric, then again here’s what I see:

What am I supposed to do here? What am I looking at?

As it happens, I’m teaching EL107 Section 01, so perhaps I should click that link at the bottom of the page?  But I’ve taught section 01 of that course before. Which EL107 01 on that list is the course I’m working on right now? I see no dates.

I clicked the last one, thinking that presumably it’s the most recent one, and now I see this:

Again, what am I looking at? Why does EL160 01 appear at the top of the list on the left, when I just clicked on EL107 01? Has this page finished loading? Why don’t I see some kind of header or menu?

As it happens, “2-Part Assignment (10pt) 2024” is something I just created for this course, but when I click on it, this is what I see:

Nothing seems to have changed except for the box around the link.

When I resize my window, shrink the text size, and scroll, I can see this:


So apparently the links are changing the text that’s vertically centered on this comically tall page, and sometimes I have to resize the windows to read that vertically centered text.

Sometimes, when I click a link that’s near the top or bottom of the page, the browser sends me to middle of the page.

But there’s no indication of what course I’m currently viewing. The only reason I know for sure that I’m seeing the right list is I’ve trained myself to attach years to the titles of rubrics I’ve created, after years of being confused by Canvas.

It’s a fundamental user interface principle to offer a stable environment and offer feedback.

Please, Instructure, give me a drop-down list so I can select a rubric from my current course without popping up a window.

If you must use a popup, please let it by default display a clearly labeled list of rubrics I’ve already created for this course. Please don’t clutter up the page with links to every course I’ve ever created — put them in a drop-down list, and let me sort them by date or search for a course title.

I could make an HTML search box like that on my lunch hour. Here’s how:


And for the love of all that his holy, why are you vertically centering your text and making me peep at it through a tiny window? I shouldn’t have to resize my windows, shrink my text and scroll around just to figure out how a link I clicked has changed the page I’m looking at.  

Even more frustrating… as I was screenshotting and blogging about this problem, I noticed that when I

  1. start with an unpublished assignment that does not already have a rubric
  2. click the ” + Rubric” button
  3. Click on the absolutely identical-looking “Find a Rubric” button
  4. I get something else — a three-column popup that at least tells me that I’m viewing a list of rubrics from the first of some 80 courses in the left column.

    At least the above makes sense — even though I can’t imagine why it doesn’t automatically select the course I’m currently working on.But I can’t get to this working three-column list when I’m editing the rubric of a “Discussion,” only when I’m editing an “Assignment.”

Because I am not an employee of Instructure I did not take the extra time to do further bug-tracking.

Nevertheless, because I’m using the same computer and same browser, and I’m clicking what looks like the same button, I expect to see the same results whether I’m editing the rubric of an “Assignment” or a “Discussion.”

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