Online Submission – Providing the right guidance and support to students

If you are using the anonymous assignment submission tool, you may be aware that we circulated guidance notes and procedures for supporting students who have submitted late and cite technical problems in mitigation. You can download this guidance here:

As a result, there may be actions to improve your Departmental guidance for online submissions and we have a few suggestions that may help you out.

Indicate where students should get support

The first point of contact for students is with their Department. Ensure that you have clear contact details for whoever oversees assignment submission in your Department and put these near your assignment submission points and your public website.

The overwhelming majority of appeals are based on the scenario that a student attempted to submit online ahead of time, but was unable to do so and didn’t know what the contingency arrangements were. A contingency email is recommended, with an auto-reply that indicates when confirmation of receipt is expected. Make this obvious to students, include it in the handbook as well as online. This ensures that the Department is aware of problems at the time the student encounters them, information which may be useful for MCC claims should the student submit late.

As indicated in our guidance, in the first instance the VLE team will only respond to queries from the Department administration team about whether the VLE service was available. Further investigation requires a MCC claim. We are unable to respond directly to students.

Ensuring students know about what files will be accepted

If you are using file type restrictions, ensure students are made well aware of this prior to their last-minute submission attempts. All students have access to Microsoft Office 365 and campus computers, so should be able to save in .doc and .docx.

If students have to submit multiple files, you may need to provide additional guidance about creating .zip files. These are also known as ‘compressed folders’ on Windows PCs and allows multiple files to be submitted as one single file.

Induction and practice submission points

If you have a separate VLE site just for online submission, students may not be looking at this until the point of submission. Encourage your students to visit this site and read the instructions well in advance of the submission deadline.

Familiarity with the assignment submission tool is important. As part of annual inductions, encourage students to submit to a practice submission point. Make a single practice submission point available through the whole year, labelling it clearly as a practice drop box and set up as you would other submission points with file restrictions if necessary, so that students can check the way the tool works prior to a formal submission.

This will help reduce student anxiety if they try to submit the wrong file type, too large a file or are unsure about the interface.

Review of your guidance

The ELDT is happy to offer an outside perspective on your guidance and site structure. Please feel free to contact us at any time on vle-support@york.ac.uk.

Importantly though, a number of your messages may be jostling for attention. Sometimes less is more; clear, structured guidance (headings) will help students work through submission processes better than blocks of text which may contain extraneous information.

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