teacher-commentsA few weeks ago I wrote an article explaining how you can give student feedback in Google Docs using the comments and suggestions features.

Following this several teachers reported that their feedback comments were disappearing for students, although the teacher could still see them.

It took me a while to work out, but there is a really simple reason for this. I’ll do my best to explain!

Why comments disappear from student work in Google Classroom

The simple answer is that when a student completes an assignment and “Turns in” their work Google Classroom considers the document finished and changes the student’s permissions to “Can View”. This means the student can no longer edit the document or view any comments although they still show for the teacher.

In the same way when a student hands in a paper to be marked the student cannot edit it until it is handed back to them.

How to give students access to comments once work has been submitted

Unsubmit Assignment Google Classroom

To be able to view the comments again either the student can Unsubmit the work, or the teacher can Return it, or manually change permissions on the document to “View Comments” for the student.

Screenshot 2015-02-11 at 13.04.16

To add to the confusion there are three different verbs used describe the action of submitting work. At various points a student can “Submit”, “Hand in”, or “Turn in” work — they all mean the same thing but change throughout Google Classroom.

What is Google Classroom

The best way to look at Google Classroom is as a Google Docs management system. Classroom automates all of the fiddly file sharing and permissions that you would otherwise have to manage yourself in Google Drive.

A few things to remember about Google Classroom:

  • The teacher is always listed as the owner of any documents submitted in their classroom.
  • When a student “Turns in” an assignment they can no longer edit it or view comments.
  • Teachers can use the “Folder” button on the assignment page to view the live version of any documents that are being worked on by students.

Got a tip that I didn’t mention here? Share it in the comments!




About Author

Profile photo of Karl Rivers

Karl is an award winning Director of IT for the Royal Grammar School Guildford, based near London, England. He has been working in education for more than ten years and founded ClassThink in 2013 to share technology best practice with other schools. In 2014 he won the NAACE Impact Award for support services in schools, and writes edtech articles for Education Executive Magazine.

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