Note: this was going to be entitled "Ten things I hate about annotating submissions in the Assignment module of Gradebook in Moodle", but apparently ten was nowhere near enough.
Following is a collection of criticisms of undesirable software behaviour/functionality that was recently experienced in up-to-date browsers: Edge (81.0.416.68) and Opera (68.0.3618.125).
I consider these to be constructive criticisms, because I have provided suggested remedies for each one.
1. There is no way to magnify the submission!!! Submissions might contain small text or feint inscriptions that are illegible with the default display settings. The only way to read them in the annotation GUI is to rely on the browser's zoom settings, which result in enlargement of the surrounding menu and status bars, so that the assignment viewing pane firstly becomes 'letterboxed', and eventually vanishes. (Downloading the PDF is a clunky workaround for that.)
SOLUTION: add functionality into the GUI to zoom in and zoom out of the student's submitted assignment only (without affecting the surrounding panes).
2. Ticks and crosses are not created centred on the mouse-tip position, nor even above-left of the mouse position (with the symbol's bottom-right corner created at the mouse-tip position). Rather, they are created below-right of the mouse position (with the symbol's top-left corner created at the mouse position-tip), which is unexpected, unintuitive, and very inconvenient. In fact, for ticks the effect is even worse than it sounds, because the tick symbol is drawn predominantly along the lower and right-hand edges of the symbol's bounding box, away from the upper-left corner (where the mouse tip was).
SOLUTION: ticks and crosses should be created with the tick's 'centroid' centred on the mouse-tip position. Alternatively, the pointer icon could be changed to a semi-transparent cross/tick/face when the button for those annotations has been clicked, with the tick/cross/face then appearing as an 'imprint' wherever the mouse is next clicked on the submitted assignment (in the spirit of a stamp).
3. There is no "undo" button. Even just a single level (a single action) would be better than none.
SOLUTION: add an "undo" button.
4. It is very awkward to delete individual symbols. Firstly, it takes too many steps (click the seletion-arrow button, then select the tick/cross symbol by clicking it, then click the bin icon that appears). Secondly, it is often difficult to select the tick/cross symbol — despite clicking the location where it seems to be, apparently the displayed symbol position doesn't always match the internally registered symbol position.
SOLUTION: make it easier to delete tick/cross symbols with one or two steps. For example: let the bin symbol be shown upon hovering the mouse (no need to click to select); allow multiple symbols to be selected by lasso, and then deleted with the delete button on the keyboard.
5. The "Reset" button fails to remove already-added tick/cross symbols.
SOLUTION: the "Reset" button should remove all annotations (preferably with a confirmation dialogue).
6. Whenever several tick/cross symbols are added in quick succession, a plague of notifications peppers the screen, advising "Draft annotations saved". This is quite an uninteresting message in any case, because it seems that the user should expect Gradebook to save the annotations. These notifications can cover a large portion of the left side of the screen, making the submission unreadable, and thus greatly disrupting the marking. They seem to persist on screen for around four or five seconds, which doesn't sound like much (although trying counting it out loud!), yet rapidly becomes annoying as it is repeated many times for each annotated submission. Worse yet, if they cannot all be displayed on the (left of the) screen at once, then they enter a (hidden) 'queue', so that they continue to emerge even ten seconds after the user has stopped adding annotations!
SOLUTION: the status notification "Draft annotations saved" should preferably be displayed outside of the submission-viewing pane, or else with a smaller dialogue (e.g. just "Saved" in small font with less padding, or perhaps briefly display a floppy-disk icon), or else not at all; the display time can also be made shorter (half as long as currently, or less). When multiple symbols are added in quick succession, and the notifications arising are _identical_, do not display them at totally different screen locations — just overlay them; if this would seem insufficiently informative to the user of a new notification arising (albeit identical), then they could be either displayed with an animated 'flash', or just slightly offset (like fanning playing cards).
7. Tick/cross symbol annotations are not displayed in a consistent location, but rather they depend upon whether the marking panel is displayed or not.
SOLUTION: tick/cross symbol annotations should be displayed in a consistent location, unaffected by whether the marking panel is displayed or not.
8. The bar at the bottom is needlessly large, and takes up too much of the screen.
SOLUTION: make the bar thinner, or hide the bar unless the mouse hovers at the bottom of the browser, or remove the bar entirely by putting the buttons currently located there somewhere else in the GUI, or allow the marker to manually toggle hiding/showing the bar (also could be implemented for the topmost bar).
9. In EDGE the hyperlinked information at the top-left of the screen (e.g. course title/code, assignment number/title) cannot be read if it is long (many words). Specifically, the "View all submissions" hyperlinked text was barely visible in one case. Likewise, if the student has a long name, then the name wraps to a second row, pushing the student's email address out of sight.
SOLUTION: allow the user to resize the top panel of information by dragging the vertical dividing bar, or allow the information at the top-left of the screen to be scrolled, or shrink the font to fit it all in the available space.
10. Comments cannot be edited, only deleted.
SOLUTION: allow comments to be edited.
11. Comments are not tied to a specific location in the submission.
SOLUTION: Associate comments with the part of the submission on screen when they are made — students could then click them to display the relevant part of the submission.
12. Useless whitespace is displayed in dropdown tick/cross selection menu, needlessly taking up space on the screen and unable to be successfully clicked: when the whitespace in the dropdown box is clicked, no selection is made.
SOLUTION: either remove the whitespace, or else make it clickable for the purpose of selecting a tick/cross symbol, or replace the whitespace with clickable words (e.g. "tick" and "cross").
13. When many annotations are made, the content of the underlying submitted assignment might be obscured, with no way to read it.
SOLUTION: all annotations should be on a layer, and there should be a button to toggle the visibility of that 'annotations layer' on and off.
14. Clicking the select arrow on an unannotated part of the document does nothing, but the useless notification "Draft annotations saved" is still displayed!
SOLUTION: there should never be any notification shown unless a change has just been made to the annotations/marks/comments/status!!
15. Accidentally clicking the "Save comment" hypertext twice in quick succession (double-clicking) results in the same comment being added twice.
SOLUTION: after the first click, the comment-adding functionality should be disabled until the comment-saving process is complete.
16. Clicking the select arrow onto one annotated cross symbol somewhere on the document causes the other annotated cross symbols that are visible on the page to 'migrate' to new positions.
SOLUTION: merely clicking the select arrow onto one annotation should not affect the placement of any other annotations that have already been made.
17. When zooming the browser, the annotation symbols (ticks/crosses) do not stay in the same place relative to the submitted assignment page.
SOLUTION: changing the magnification through the browser should not cause annotation symbols (ticks/crosses) to appear to move to a different location on the submitted assignment page.
18. Default tick/cross annotation symbol size is too big.
SOLUTION: default tick/cross annotation symbol size should be about 50 to 75% of the current size; alternatively, they could be set in global preferences by each marker; alternatively, they could automatically scale according to the document size (e.g. smaller for A4 PDF documents generated by word processing software, but larger for submissions obtained from photographs from high-megapixel cameras).
19. Cannot turn the page without a mouse (or otherwise clicking the page-arrow buttons in the GUI).
SOLUTION: implement keyboard 'shortcuts' — the most obvious/logical would be to use 'Page up' and 'Page down' keys to turn the pages!
20. In INTERNET EXPLORER cannot close drop-down user-selection menu once opened.
SOLUTION: the drop-down user-selection menu should be automatically closed when focus is shifted to any other part of the interface, in any browser.
21. Insert character button from advanced toolbar in Feedback comments displays a grid of characters that runs off the screen, is not scrollable, and pane is not resizable!
SOLUTION: the grid of characters launched by clicking the insert character button should be scrollable and/or pane should be resizable.
22. It is inconvenient to step between unmarked submissions. In the grading interface the only options to change to a different student's submission are either to step to the previous or next student's entry (irrespective of whether the student has actually submitted anything, and regardless of whether it's already been marked) or to manually select from a drop-down list. The drop-down list tries to identify submissions that still need to be graded with an asterisk at the far right; however, for students with long names the asterisk may be hidden because the text runs off the screen.
SOLUTION: the marker should be able to easily progress through actual submissions that still need to be graded.
23. Some student names are missing from the above drop-down box to "Change user".
SOLUTION: the drop-down box to "Change user" should list _all_ users (i.e. students) — unless explicitly and deliberately filtered by the marker in yet-to-be-added functionality.
24. It is difficult to see which toolbar button was last pressed, and therefore know which tool is currently active. The toolbar buttons take on a feint 'blush' when pressed which is not at all obvious. The consequence is that regularly I think that one tool (the cross annotation, say) is currently active, while in fact some other tool (the line annotation, say) is active.
SOLUTION: don't try to invent a new idiom — when a button has been clicked, make the _entire_ button _markedly_ darker. Another option may be to change the pointer icon. For example, when the cross button has been clicked, the pointer icon could turn red, or become an arrow with inset cross, or become a semi-transparent cross (in the spirit of a stamp, which would also help with the positioning problems).
25. Opening student 10 from Group B by clicking the "Grade" button and 'open in new tab' resulted in the desired student's name displayed in the top banner, but everything else (PDF report, comments, grade) were for student 1 of group A. The same behaviour occurred when just clicking to open in the current tab of the browser.
It seems to be a problem with expired session ID's or cookies, but the resulting behaviour should never happen.
SOLUTION: clicking a button to grade a specific student's work should open that student's work, not some other student's work (from a different class!).
26. Similarly, when viewing the "Grading Summary" for (say) students in group A on one tab for a particular assignment, and group B in another tab for a different assignment, clicking "View all submissions" seems to be affected by what is displayed/selected in other tabs, not just the current tab, and therefore sometimes displays the wrong group of students.
SOLUTION: when choosing "View all submissions" from the "Grading Summary" page, the group relevant to the current tab should be displayed, irrespective of what might be open on other tabs.
27. When actually displaying a submission in order to annotate/grade it, there is no indication of which group the student belongs to.
SOLUTION: display the currently displayed group somewhere in the top bar. Maybe instead of the drop-down list text always displaying the banal "Change user" (when not being interacted with) it could display the current group.
28. When clicking through to the next/previous student by clicking the "Save and show next" button in the bottom bar, or either the left or right arrow on the top bar (top right corner of the screen), even if the marker makes no changes, and does nothing, the warning
"Unsaved changes. There are unsaved changes to grades or feedback. Do you want to save the changes and continue?"
is displayed. Clicking "Cancel" means that the marker cannot move off the current assignment submission, so the only practical choice is "OK".
It is bad practice to instill a habit in markers of always clicking "OK" to save changes that they're not aware of making: it's a 'great' way to have them save accidental annotations/changes that they weren't aware of making.
SOLUTION: track whether anything has _actually_ been changed in Comments, Annotations, or Grade or Status, and only show a warning about saving these if a change really was made.
29. After I annotate, and mark/grade an assignment, I set the "Marking workflow state" to show that it has been marked. Yet I find that after the results are released to students, the "Marking workflow state" reverts to "Not marked" when viewing individual submissions in the grading page, although it says "Released" when viewing all submissions.
SOLUTION: after releasing a mark, the marking workflow state should be shown to markers as "Released" in the grading page, and they should not be able to change it. (Only the convenor or administrator should be able to reset this status, such as in the event that the report needs to be remarked or resubmitted.) The status shown on each page should be consistent.
30. The software has too many bugs and problems, in both the interface and the underlying 'engine'.
SOLUTION: there should be more effort on avoiding/fixing bugs, and improving the interface.