Assignment Format Options
Natalie Kim avatar
Written by Natalie Kim
Updated over a week ago


When editing and creating assignments, you can choose different types of formats for the assignment submissions. This article goes into detail on the format types and how to manage them.

File upload

This will allow participants to upload a single PDF file as their assignment submission.

URL upload

Participants will submit a URL link to another location (for example, a video they’ve uploaded to YouTube).

Multiple file uploads

Participants can upload more than one file. This is typically used when you want the primary uploaded file to be a PDF for grading, but want the students to also upload another resource for you to use in grading, such as a zip file containing a programming project.

Python assignments

Participants can upload both a PDF and ipynb file. This format type supports automatic grading for Python coding assignments using nbgrader.

When you check Python Assignment, an extra input will appear for the notebook name. This name must match the name used when calling nbgrader generate_assignment to create the student notebooks. (Do not include the .ipynb extension in this name—enter exactly the value you used in the generate_assignment command.)

For assignments that are marked Python Assignment, Forum will allow the instructor to download all submitted work in a format ready to be autograded.

Important note: Running nbgrader autograde will execute all submitted participant code in your local environment, so take all necessary precautions to guard against malicious or broken code!

Workbook or Code Workbooks

Participants will submit responses to a Forum Workbook or Code Workbook. Once you select either of these options, you'll see a button to Open Workbook, which is where you can edit the workbook. All changes will be automatically saved as you edit.

As soon as the assignment is published and available to students, working copies of the template will be generated for students. To guarantee all student workbooks are generated from the same template, the workbook template in Course Builder will be locked for further editing.

Changing a Workbook after publishing the assignment

If a change must be made to a workbook after publishing, you can use the Unlock Workbook option to edit the template in Course Builder. Once the template has been unlocked, the next publish will overwrite the template in Forum.

Once you confirm the Unlock Workbook, a new workbook, based on the new template, will be generated for each student. Students will be able to access the archived copy and copy-paste their previous answers into the new format, if desired.

If the students have submitted their work before these changes are made, the submitted copies will still be available to view by instructors in the assignment grader. Students will not specifically be prompted to re-submit using the new template.

Changing Assignment Format from File upload to Workbook

If the instructor changes the assignment format from File upload to Workbook, after the students have submitted, previous submissions will still be listed and visible in the assignment grader. On the assignment page, it will appear as "Submission 1 on <date>", and there won't be a link to download the file. The assignment still counts as submitted.

Important note: Unlocking a workbook will lock all student workbooks associated with the previous template and archive them.

  • Archiving means that the (now read-only) copy of their workbook is made available for access on their assignment page, but can not be edited or submitted.

  • Archived copies are not accessible by instructors. This archival process works the same for group and individual assignments.

  • Switching the type of workbook from a Workbook to a Code Workbook or vice versa will also cause the same archiving behavior.

Changing Assignment Format from Workbook to File Upload

If the instructor changes the assignment format from workbook to file upload after the student has submitted a workbook, the student will need to resubmit their assignment. Otherwise, their submission will not be graded by the instructor. Previous workbook submissions will still be listed and visible in the assignment grader.

In this case, the students will not be able to access their past workbook submissions. The workbook will still be accessible to the instructor in the assignment grader. If multiple resources are allowed to be uploaded, the workbook will be the primary resource, and other files will be a secondary resource(s).

Note: Only similarity scores of primary resources are displayed. This score is only calculated when the primary resource is a PDF, not a workbook.

For more information on what students experience with Forum Workbook assignments, see this article.

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