Black and White and Color

Action is the foundational key to all success.
~ Pablo Picasso

Guernica - Pablo Picasso, 1937

Guernica – Pablo Picasso, 1937

Black and white is a relatively straightforward environment: on or off, yes or no. Together they produce a variety of greys: a rheostat of shades, a long list of maybes.  We well know that students have been “spamming” their classes to find partners. Students complain to teachers; parents complain to teachers; teachers complain to the help desk; the help desk looks to us; we discuss the matter with leadership. You get the cycle?

Having explored earlier pieces of spam email, the Ucompass developers discovered that most of the “spam” related to the innocent searching for collaborative partners with whom to work. That’s what students are supposed to do, right? In an effort to cut down on email labeled as spam and to better facilitate a student’s ability to successfully initiate a collaborative trajectory, our team has developed and released … <drum roll sounds> … the Collaboration Finder.

The Collaboration Finder is only available to students or (for teachers) from student view. There are two ways to use the new tool. Students can use this new tool to:

  • search for other students to collaborate on a particular assignment
  • post their availability for collaboration on a specific assignment

Search / Find / Contact
Scene: A student wants to find a collaboration partner for Assignment #2.

Click on the STUDENTS tab. A student uses the SELECT AN ASSIGNMENT drop-down menu to pick the assignment for which he/she wants a partner.


The table will list the students who have already noted that they are seeking a collaborative partner for that particular assignment. Clicking on the username for the listings will reveal that particular student’s profile if available.


If the list is long, the SEARCH box will help the student limit the selections.

Reaching out to individual students on the list is simple! See that email icon next to the assignment listings? When a student clicks on that icon it automatically opens an email already addressed to the student seeking a partner. Add a subject line and message. Done!

List / Post / Advertise
Scene: A student wants a partner for Assignment #2 and none are listed.

There were no partners listed for the assignment a student wants, or the student was not happy with any choices listed. It’s time to throw his/her name into the collaboration pool and land a partner.


Click on the STUDENTS tab. Select the SIGNUP TO FIND A COLLABORATION PARTNER button. That will open a modal (pop-up) window:


Welcome to the COLLABORATION PARTNER FINDER input page!  Select the assignment (or assignments) for which the student needs a partner. Just close the window when done. This will automatically add the student to the list when searched via any checked assignment.

What do you think? We are really interested in knowing if this helps your students navigate through their course more easily. What else do we have in store? It’s time to add some color!

I and the Village - Marc Chagall, 1911

I and the Village – Marc Chagall, 1911

Leaving the world of on/off and yes/no, we enter into the colorful world of performance.

This is where little things make a real difference. A little more red or a little more green can mean a lot … to students, to parents, and to you. You can find this comment on our Facebook page:

Is it possible for you to highlight a final exam grade (red maybe) in the gradebook when it falls below 59.5%? That way it REALLY sticks out as a failed exam when we go to finalize a student grade. Maybe highlight it green when it is above 59.5%, too?

This seemed like a very good idea to us. The Ucompass developers decided to take a step farther …

Why just final exams? Why not try to do this for every assessment?
Why not fill the Educator world with color for all?
Get out the crayons!


The look and coding above applies for both the teacher (Student Grade Report) and the student (Gradebook).  Every assessment row will be highlighted in green (passed), blue (submitted but not graded), red (failed), or white (not submitted). With a glance at the canvas everyone can get a “feel” for how things are going.

PLEASE NOTE: It was also suggested that we change the icons for each color in order to better account for any color blindness.  Hovering over those icons will also indicate the status of that particular assessment.


Both teachers and students can readily filter through the four states of assessments using the handy drop-down sort box. Can we get a round of applause here?

Resubmitted Notes

There is now a RESUBMITTED notation for any assignment that a student resubmits. As a teacher or TA you will see this:


Compare the row #3 here with the same row above. The earlier assignment had a failing grade (red row). The student resubmitted the assignment and grading is requested (now blue) for this resubmission.

PLEASE NOTE: The original grade (5/10 or 50%) for this assignment is still in effect UNTIL the assignment has been graded again. Educator does NOT take the original points away from the student, and those original scores are retained for all calculations until replaced.

The student view for the same resubmitted assignment looks like this:



Finally, a big THANK YOU goes out to many of you. We asked you on our Facebook page to share any ideas you might have to help us better serve your students. Many of you have become “fans” of the work we do here, and it helps motivate us to do even more. We’d like to serve your students with equal passion, and we appreciate any direction you provide. If you have not checked the list so far, perhaps you should. You might even have something to add. Meanwhile … keep up the great work you do and keep smiling!

All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.
~ Marc Chagall

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9 thoughts on “Black and White and Color

  1. Ucompass,
    Thank you guys for always caring and looking for ways to improve your product and serving us. I love the recent updates to Educator; love the new colors, snippets, percent complete progress wheel, and such. Though not always they prettiest interface to look at, it is very functional and always getting better. You guys listen!
    Keep up the good work! :)
    Francisco J. Garcia
    Music of the World Instructor,

  2. This is awesome! I think it will really cut down on mass emails from students trying to find a partner! I have a questions about the highlighting grades in the gradebook portion. Is there any way for us to edit that? I personally have my students resubmit any assignment (not a module or segment exam) with a score under 70%. Is there anyway to add a note, or something to that effect on assignments under 70 for my students so they know they need to correct those?

    Thank you guys for everything that you do!

    1. Mishell,
      First off, thank you very much for taking the time to reach out to us here! We are already discussing options for assignments that have a passing grade, but are below 70%.


    2. You are welcome, and we appreciate your enthusiasm.
      That granular communication control will need to wait for the new system coming out this summer. Right now we are sticking with the universal pass/fail scores.
      Next week, however, there will likely be SOMETHING to help you call attention to those 60-70% scores. That’s all we can say for now.
      You’ll just have to come back. :-)

  3. You guys hit the nail on the head with this update. Looking through student records just got 3 times faster. Thanks!

  4. Thank you so much for always doing updates! I LOVE the new colors. So much easier. (I do agree with the idea of having options for the teachers that require re-submissions if below a 70%.)

    One more suggestion: We often have to “copy” their grade from Educator to log in other places. When you changed the view up top it required teachers to now scroll all the way to the bottom to get a standard text version of the grade and progress like so:
    Segment 2 Current Percentage: 81.01 %

    Segment 2 Assessments: 15 of 19 – 78.94 %

    I would suggest adding a button at the top that teachers can click to automatically copy this information so we do not have to scroll all the way down, highlight and then copy.

    It would save us lots of time!

    ***Also maybe a button that we can click when the student is 100% done that will take us to a page to send them an email with their final grade (already included in the email) so we can inform them.


    Again you all rock and thanks for what you have done already!!!
    Niki Sadler

  5. LOVE this new color coded gradebook! A suggestion may be to use a third color for 0′s as these are grades which must be resubmitted in order for our students to complete. :)

    Also, I gotta say, I miss being able to open Educator emails and reply to them all in multiple tabs like we usedtacould back in the old days! Any chance of that coming back? :)


    A very right-brained art teacher with no fewer than a dozen tabs open at any given point.

  6. Thank you for the new collaboration finder. What would also be helpful is if a teacher search for all students who were a certain percent complete but had not yet completed the collaboration. We could then email them and encourage them to look for a partner.

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