File Types and Assignments

An Anon Asks:  (Okay, that’s funnier if you’re on Tumblr)

One of the ways I have learned that students try to get around dropping their final papers into Safe Assign is by writing their paper in something like Google Docs, and then claiming that Safe Assign will not accept the paper.  Since the technology is to blame, they believe they are off the hook.  Any advice?


Right up front, your students don’t know enough about Google Docs, because Docs can easily be exported to Word or PDF format. So you can easily go back and ‘blame’ their lack of knowledge on the subject. They never look at that Export word and what it does.

Now. The problem here is going to be the student with only a Chromebook at their disposal. As of just now (Dec 2015), Chromebooks can certainly save the Google Doc in Word or PDF format, but — huge but — when in Blackboard, the Assignment Tool will not ‘pick up’ the file for submission. That’s a known issue with Chromebooks. That doesn’t let them off the hook!

Students with Chromebooks need to be told to mail the document to themselves (the mail will pick up the document as an attachment!) and then log into a non-Chromebook computer, download the file from the mail and then submit it in the Assignment tool.

Absolutely worse case is that they send the attachment to you and you’ll be glad to put it through Safe Assign for them. Although if you happen to tack on an automatic point deduction for the inconvenience, you’ll find few students take you up on this.

Additionally, I stop any argument by having these 2 sentences in the directions for the assignment:

Submit Minitab Assignment 1 here as an attachment. Do not put your assignment in the textbox on this page.

Make sure your document is in *.docx, *.doc, *.PDF, or *.rtf format before you attach it.

By making declarative sentences up front, I spike the discussion before it even happens.

Additionally, I have the following statement in my syllabus (which I know no one reads, but it’s there in case this discussion ever comes up!).


Genesee is currently standardized on Office 2013, which means Word 2013. You do not need to use this software, but you must submit the document in a format that I can open. That means a *.docx, or *.doc file format. PDF documents will also be accepted. As a last resort, *.rtf documents will be accepted.

  • If you have Microsoft WORKS, you must do a FILE > SAVE AS to save in the proper format. I will return a file to you one time to reformat and resubmit.
    • After the first time, I will mark the assignment as not completed and you will get a 0 for the assignment.
  • If you have Open Source software (such as Open Office or Libre Office), you need to do the FILE > SAVE AS to save in the proper format. PDF files are welcome options.
  • If you have a Mac and use Pages, I cannot accept *.pages files simply because I cannot open those files. Again, do the FILE > SAVE AS and save in PDF format.

I need to add the parallel set of directions for Google Docs. That would be this:

  • If you use Google Docs (or any other online word processing option), you need to EXPORT to PDF format.

You’re welcome to steal any or all of the above verbiage wholesale… 😉

Other suggestions welcome! If you have them, feel free to share!



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