Assigning seats at UC San Diego using Canvas

June-August 2022 videos. See links, slides, and room spreadsheets farther down this page.


This is a playlist with several videos. To see the full playlist and select a video, use ≡ at the top of the video, or watch on YouTube.

  • Part 1: How to upload a spreadsheet of text to Canvas
  • Part 2: Getting seating charts and spreadsheets for UCSD classrooms
  • Part 3: Random seat assignments and handling special seat requests
  • Part 4: Every other seat and more patterns
  • Part 5: Exam logistics
  • Slides (PDF, large file, 33 MB)
  • To skip or review chapters within each video, you'll need to watch on YouTube directly (rather than on this page) and use:
    • Mac/iPad: OPTION + LEFT/RIGHT ARROW for the previous/next chapter
    • Windows: CTRL + LEFT/RIGHT ARROW
    • Android: Double tap with TWO fingers on the LEFT or RIGHT side of the video
    • Or open the video description and jump to a chapter
    • The buttons |◀ and ▶| are for the previous/next video, rather than previous/next chapter within the same video
    • Instructions for students flyer: Here is a screenshot with generic instructions. You should also announce specific instructions for your class, including which assignment to look for, e.g., "Final Exam Seat Assignment".
    • Waitlists and Concurrent Enrollment: We recommend you wait until waitlisted students are removed from Canvas, but here is info on assigning seats sooner.
  • PREVIOUS videos and instructions; most people should ignore these. These are provided for people who started with the Fall 2021 videos about the AIO spreadsheets, in case they want to refer to them. However, everyone else should start with the current videos and the spreadsheets provided on this page.

    • October 2021 videos and slides (large file, 33 MB)
      Written instructions (based on the old October 2021 videos and the AIO spreadsheets)
      March 2022 update (about the new format spreadsheets)
    • Academic Integrity Office: Spreadsheets of seat numbers in selected rooms. However, the spreadsheets below supersede the AIO spreadsheets, and the June 2022 videos are designed for using the spreadsheets below with Canvas.
    • The NEW Part 1 video is the OLD Part 1 video plus more info about using SpeedGrader and the Canvas gradebook.
    • The NEW Parts 2-4 roughly correspond to the OLD Parts 2 and 4, but are based on the new spreadsheets on this page instead of the AIO spreadsheets.
    • The NEW Part 5 is an updated version of the OLD Part 3.
Resources needed
ResourceWhere to get it
Instructions See videos and slides above
Classroom seat map Classroom Details website for most rooms.
Some room maps are posted with the spreadsheets below.
Room spreadsheet Download your room spreadsheet below on this page.
These spreadsheets supersede the AIO spreadsheets for TritonEd.
Class roster spreadsheet Your class on Canvas > Grades > Actions > Export
Special requests Collect special requests from your students by email or survey forms. E.g., requests for left-handed or other special seats, and OSD students or athletes taking the exam separately.
For coordinated classes, have all requests go to the coordinator, or have all instructors add the requests to a shared spreadsheet.

Download the spreadsheet below for your room (if available) and use it to prepare a file of seat assignments to upload to Canvas. Features include:

  • List of all seats in the room and their attributes.
  • Randomize seats.
  • Use one room or multiple rooms.
  • Filters for seating patterns, like every other row or seat; left/middle/right sections of room; left/right-handed seats; and combinations.
  • Counting how many seats you'll get with different patterns, so you can try out scenarios.
Classroom seat spreadsheets
Catalyst (CTL) 0125 (new room; Classroom Details map 11/16/21 may have errors)
Center Hall (CENTR) 101, 105, 109, 113, 115, 119, 212, 214, 216
Cognitive Science Building (CSB) 001, 002, 004, 005
Copley International Conference Center (CICC) 101
Galbraith Hall (GH) 242
Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) 1330 and revised seating chart (Dec 2021; supersedes Classroom Details map 04/27/18)
2250 (Ledden Auditorium)
The Jeannie Auditorium (GA) The Jeannie and revised seating chart (Dec 2021; supersedes Classroom Details map 10/27/21)
Mandeville Auditorium Mandeville Auditorium spreadsheet and revised seating chart (Feb 2019; supersedes Classroom Details map 07/19/16)
Mosaic (MOS) 0113, 0114 (new rooms; Classroom Details maps 10/29/21 may have errors)
Pepper Canyon Hall (PCYNH) 106, 109, 120, 121, 122
Peterson Hall (PETER) 104, 108, 110
Price Center Price Center West Theater
Price Center East Ballroom spreadsheet and seating chart (see note below)
Rec Gym Rec Gym spreadsheet and seating chart (see note below)
Robinson (RBC) 2101 (Robinson Auditorium) (might be based on outdated info)
Sequoyah Hall (SEQUO) 147, 148
Solis Hall 104, 107
Warren Lecture Hall (WLH) 2001, 2005, 2111, 2113, 2115, 2204, 2205, 2207
York Hall 2622, 2722
  • For all rooms: It is strongly recommended to get the seating chart from the Classroom Details site (if available) or this page (for selected rooms) and visit the room before assigning seats. Seats break, rooms get renovated and the seating chart may change, etc.
    • Check for broken seats and other issues, and mark them in the "Notes" column. Then filter them out.
    • Left-handed seats change every now and then as repairs are made; adjust those in the "Left-handed?" column.
    • When rooms are renovated, sometimes the changes are major and the room spreadsheet will need to be redone, and other times, it's minor changes like row alignments and seat handedness. The Classroom Details maps are not usually updated for such minor changes, but such changes may still be important for assigning seats.
    • If a spreadsheet needs to be updated, please let me know.
    • If you find errors in the seating charts on the Classroom Details site, report them to Facilities.
  • PC East Ballroom and Rec Gym: These are not regular classrooms. They are temporarily set up for finals some quarters with movable furniture and taped row/column signs. The layout may change each time, particularly the number of rows and the gaps between the rows/columns. Before using this spreadsheet, you should (1) get the current seating chart, (2) visit the room once the furniture is set up, and (3) check that they match the seating chart shown here.

Canvas does not have a built-in feature to upload a file of individualized comments for each student, so people using Canvas at other schools ask about the tool shown in the videos and slides. This will be a bit of a project for you or your school's tech support. Here are some options to consider, but these may not be maintained or provide support.


Canvas add-ons that your campus tech support installs on their Canvas server:

  • Submission Comments (by Matthew Fedder in UC San Diego IT Services): This is the tool in the video/slides. It's now available on GitHub as the Canvas Bulk Comments Import Tool, but no support is available. You create a CSV file with comments for each student and upload it with this tool to a Canvas assignment. The comments are added as grading comments to the assignment as though you had entered them through the gradebook or SpeedGrader.
    Short technical description: This is an LTI tool built in C#, running in a .Net Framework. It parses the CSV so that it can be uploaded with the "Grade or comment on multiple submissions" endpoint in the Canvas REST API.
  • Post'Em from U Delaware: Source (2018) from U Delaware + instructions from Yale. This is another Canvas add-on to upload a CSV file with separate comments for every student. The comments are viewed through Post'Em in the course menu, rather than through the gradebook.


Options the instructor can do w/o a Canvas add-on:

  • Comments Importer from U Colorado: Open this page and expand the "Comments Importer" section. The instructor installs this as a browser add-on, rather than campus tech support installing it as a Canvas add-on.
  • Mail merge, if you have that available.
  • Post a table of everyone's names and seats. But to avoid posting personally identifiable information to the whole class, you can assign each student a number (which shows in the Canvas gradebook) and then separately post a table of student numbers (instead of names) and their assigned seats.
    • Create a Canvas assignment "Student Number".
      Set Points to 0, Display Grade as to Points, and check "Do not count this assignment towards the final grade."
      Enter student numbers as points for this assignment, either maually or with an external spreadsheet.
    • For a spreadsheet, use Grades > Actions > Export to download a roster;
      use spreadsheet software to add the numbers to the "Student Number" assignment column;
      and use Grades > Actions > Import to load the numbers into the gradebook, as points for that assignment.
    • In the gradebook, the number will show to the student as points on an assignment, e.g., "123 / 0" (if you set it to 0 points).
  • If you're using Gradescope, you could make a Gradescope assignment where the instructor uploads a PDF with seat assignments. Here's a way to do that with LaTeX.
    Instructions,    LaTeX template,    sample PDF output


Other steps:

  • Ideally, your school would number the seats (by attaching permanent seat number tags), draw seat number maps, and have a central website with seat number maps and seat number spreadsheets for each room.
  • In rooms without seat numbers, an instructor can number the seats themselves, e.g., by taping seat number signs on each desk, or at the ends of rows and columns if it forms a grid.
    • P416 West:    Seating chart (from Gwen McKinley);    Seat number signs PDF (4-up) and PowerPoint;    Spreadsheet
    • Print out copies of the PDF (which has 4 large numbers/letters per page) and cut the pages into quarters. Tape to sign posts, walls, or end seats around the perimeter of each section.
    • This room has 4 sections, each in a grid. You need a minimum of eight sets of letters A,B,... (row numbers at both ends of each of the four sections) and two sets of numbers 1,2,... (column numbers along the front and back rows).
  • For seat maps, our Facilities department makes professional drawings with CAD software. As a DIY project, instructors usually use EXCEL.