Importing Students from a CSV File

In addition to adding student names to your classroom one at a time, you can also create a new classroom from a CSV (comma separated value) file.  If you are working from Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet software, you can choose .csv when saving your file to create a csv file.  The file does not need to be in any specific column format and should contain at least the students' names, preferably with the first and last name in separate columns.

To use this tool, login to the Teacher Control Center and click the Manage -> Classrooms.  At the bottom of this page click the "Create New Classroom" button and choose "Import from CSV".

Step 1) Select the CSV file to upload.  If your CSV file contains column headers, check the box to skip the first row of the file.  In most cases your CSV file columns will be separated by commas, but if you know that a different delimiter has been used, you can specify this here.  When you are done, click the blue "Next" button.

Step 2) The first few lines from the CSV file are displayed here as a preview, and the columns are labeled "A", "B", "C", etc.  

If you want to use your own student ids, change the setting to "Yes" to choose which column contains the student id.  When you check "Yes", the "Choose" button is revealed.  Click this button to enable the column selector buttons, then click the column header to mark this column as the student id column.  Next, click the blue "Done" button.  If you don't want to use your own student ids, they will be automatically generated.  

Next you will select the columns that contain the students first and last names.  The process is the same: first click the "Choose" button, then click the column button that maps to this column.  First name is required, last name is optional.

When you've finished mapping columns, click the blue "Next" button to continue.

Step 3) You can optionally select applications in this step to automatically set up activities.  Simply click each application that you want to use for the classroom.  You can edit activities after the classroom is created to customize content level and specifications.  Activities will initialize with your default content level (you can set this in My Account -> Preferences) and the recommended specification.  If you want to manually set up activities later, simply click Next to go to the next step.

Step 4) In this step you'll give your classroom a name (required) and review the entire list of students that will be created.  The classroom name defaults to the name of the CSV file but you can edit it here.  If you need to make changes, click the "Back" button (beside Finish).  When you're ready to create the class, click the "Finish" button.


To see the full process in action, play the video below:

Potential Problems:

If you are using custom student ids, they must be unique among all students in your entire group - including students in archived classrooms.  If the student id is already used, the classroom will not be able to be created.

If the file you upload cannot be parsed, it may not be a CSV file or may be improperly formatted.  You cannot upload an Excel (xls, xlsx) file using this tool, but you can export a CSV file from Excel.

Have more questions? Submit a request


  • 0
    Doug Moody

    Please provide a graphic of a sample CSV file. This will help a lot. Thanks

  • 0
    Jody Mickey

    Hi Doug, I'm afraid a picture of a CSV file will be confusing.  You can't open MS Word for example and type what you would see in the graphic and end up with a CSV file - it will include all kinds of metadata and formatting data.

    Here's a great article on how to create a CSV file.  In most cases you'll already have your student list in an Excel spreadsheet, so the part about saving from Excel will be particularly useful.

    Hope this helps!

    Edited by Jody Mickey
  • 0
    Bryan Harston

    I can't say for sure, but I'll bet Doug asked for an image of a CSV file because nowhere do you specify which data fields are needed to create a classroom in Whitebox. (In other words, Jody answered the question literally, but failed to divine what the question was actually driving at.)

    So, for those who (like me) wondered: All you need in the Excel spreadsheet which you'll export as a CSV file (see article linked above) is three columns, in any order:

    • Student I.D. (if you'll be using your own)
    • Student's Last Name
    • Student's First Name

    As Jody explains, you will "map" columns (telling Whitebox which column contains which data) during the import process.



    IMPORTANT: Whitebox doesn't permit sorting your students by Last Name (which I cannot understand, as every school and gradebook sorts by last name, not first, at least in the U.S.).  Instead, it force-sorts everyone in a given classroom by FIRST name. This makes it very time-consuming to transfer grades into your gradebook, because a student named "Aaron Smith" will appear at the top of the roster, while "Tonya Adams" will appear near the bottom. It's a huge pain, which required me to copy/paste columns into an Excel spreadsheet (which I could then re-sort myself) before transferring grades ... dozens of times during the school year.

    The only solution I've found (while waiting for Whitebox to fix this obvious oversight) is to swap first and last names when you create your class. (It's easy if you're importing a CSV ... just "map" the fields to the opposite column).  

    This will cause all Classroom displays, grades, etc. to sort correctly (i.e., by last name).

    Just a suggestion, but it works for me.

    Edited by Bryan Harston
  • 0
    Jody Mickey

    Thanks for helping out Bryan.  I made an update to your comment to let others know that as of very recently we do allow for sorting students by last name.  To set your preference you can go to My Account and edit the default sort order, which is still first name for backward compatibility. 

    In case you have already used Bryan's trick to swap first and last names, you can go to your classroom and click the "Edit Student Names" button.  At the top of the student name list there is a button to swap first and last names.  

    A dedicated support article explaining this and other preferences will be added to the support portal soon.

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