In the pre-Moodle 2 workshop, it was possible to work across phases simultaneously. Students could be submitting work while others were assessing and those who had finished their assessments could see their feedback while others were still assessing.
In Moodle 2, the boundaries between phases are pretty strict and despite my best efforts, are causing lots of frustration. As an example, in a given workshop activity, I had two students with family emergencies who required extensions on their submission date. I now believe I probably could have allowed late submissions and moved everyone else on to assessment, but even then, I was stuck when it came time to release grades. I couldn't reveal feedback and grades to students who had finished and still allow access to the assessment phase for the students with extenuating circumstances.
If I'm correct in thinking that the option to allow late submissions gives me the needed flexibility for the submission to assessment phase, then I think what's needed is another option to allow some students to see grades and feedback while others complete assessments. Perhaps the options to evaluate and close could also be made available on a per student basis. For example, if I see a student has completed all submissions and assessments and they have received all assessments, then I could chose to calculate grades and release feedback to that student. I'm sure teachers would still want the option to use it as it is now, but the flexibility would be helpful.
Another possibility would be to have a choice that allows feedback and grades to be released automatically, without the need for moderation--or teacher review. I've never had an issue with grades or feedback being so improper that I wouldn't be comfortable allowing that to be released immediately. I used the pre-Moodle 2 workshop many times and that's exactly how it worked. To me, this wouldn't be any worse, and probably less so, than the freedom allowed in forums.
If you have other ideas about how to approach this issue, please let me know. With the combination of this issue and the inability to schedule the switches between phases, I'm having a really tough time and students are unhappy.