D2L - Gradebook Best Practices (UW-Madison)


UW-Madison is adopting Canvas as the single, centrally supported learning management system, and discontinuing support for Desire2Learn (D2L) and Moodle. Access to D2L and Moodle will permanently end June 1, 2018. For information about retaining materials from D2L or Moodle, please refer to this document.

In recent years, the overall performance of D2L and the gradebook in particular, have dramatically improved. The following best practices help ensure optimal performance within the gradebook.

Overall tips

Simple is better.  Weighted and Points systems appear to produce the fewest glitches. 

If you use complex formulas to produce grades in your course, we suggest using a spreadsheet program such as Excel.  Later, that spread sheet can be uploaded into D2L's gradebook to display those grades to the students.  

View by groups or sections

Viewing the gradebook by single groups or sections can result in better performance than viewing the gradebook by an entire class (or "Users").  This can be achieved by selecting Groups in the View By menu, and then selecting a particular section from the Groups menu which appears immediately to the right.

Example: ViewByGroups.jpg

Display Options

Under Grade Settings, it is recommended that a number between 5 and 10 be entered for "Number of columns before user details repeat" to improve the speed by which the grades list page loads. Additionally, other display options such as the number of decimal places, color, symbols, student ID, weighted grade, or out of grade can affect the load times of the grades list, and should be turned off to increase performance.

Grade By Category

The "Grade by Category" feature should only be used with caution in classes smaller than 40 students.


It is a good practice to periodically export the gradebook to create an individual backup record of all grades.

Importing grades can experience difficulties in cases of:

  • Long Grade Item names: long grade item names can cause an import to fail. Using shorter names will solve this problem especially in cases where multiple grade items will be imported.
  • Large gradebook sizes: It is recommended that no more than 50 grade items are imported at one time.
  • Importing from Macintosh OS X: to import a gradebook on Macintosh OS X, it is necessary to follow the steps described in D2L (Mac) - Importing Grades.

Use the Points System

As the Points System uses fewer calculations than the Weighted System, it is recommended that the Points System be used when possible.

Connection Speed

Connection speed can also affect the performance of the gradebook. A dialup connection should not be used for entering, editing, or calculating grades. The best performance will occur when connected to the campus network.

Close open applications

When editing or recalculating grades for a large number of students, it often helps to close all other applications on your computer.

See Also:

Keywords:learn@uw learnuw d2l desire2learn gradebook grade book grades slow crash load speed error   Doc ID:3724
Owner:Learn@UW Madison .Group:Learn@UW Madison
Created:2005-05-18 19:00 CDTUpdated:2017-12-01 12:20 CDT
Sites:DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Tech Store, Learn@UW Madison
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