Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Community Participant

Is there Journal function in Canvas

Jump to solution

Our instructors were wondering if they can bring Journals from Blackboard over to Canvas, and is there a Journal function in Canvas at all, if not , what is the alternation?


Tags (2)
1 Solution

Accepted Solutions
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @qnguyen ​, my guess is that journals won't move over from Bb because Canvas doesn't have a journal tool/feature. There is a feature idea for this that was already voted on and responded to from Instructure - - and you might find some workarounds or ideas in the discussion to this idea.

View solution in original post

12 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @qnguyen ​, my guess is that journals won't move over from Bb because Canvas doesn't have a journal tool/feature. There is a feature idea for this that was already voted on and responded to from Instructure - - and you might find some workarounds or ideas in the discussion to this idea.

View solution in original post

Community Participant

I often wished Canvas had a journaling tool for my students when teaching English.  They do now.  It is the new Class Notebook LTI and it creates a notebook for each student and the teacher in Canvas using OneNote.  Students could keep their journals in one section of their notebook and it would be available to the instructor.

Community Champion

Hi  @qnguyen ​ and  @kona ​. We have repurposed the Assignment Tool as our Journal tool. It's not an exact match to Bb's Journal tool but it can get the job done to a degree to facilitate the back-and-forthing private communication between the teacher and student roles in the class. Looking at this construct through a different facet or two there are different variations to this theme you can use I have found, too.

Approach A - recycled journal prompt submitted to the same Assignment tool for one collective Unit journal grade.

Here's our workaround for a 3-2-1 journal reflection in our modules using the Unit/Lesson structure.

  1. Name a new assignment tool "3-2-1 Journal"
  2. Set the assignment for unlimited submissions.
  3. Position the Assignment tool (disguised as a Journal tool) under the first lesson content and learning/assessment activities.
  4. For all subsequent Lessons in the same Unit module RE-add the same Assignment tool below each in the same/similar structural position (e.g. after a certain repeating lesson component, indented a certain level, etc as a structure consistency promising practice of course Smiley Happy)

Once positioned, understand that this is the same Assignment tool the students will access again and again in the module so the directions would be helpful to remind students of this. I usually include a "If this is your first time here..." and a "If you are returning to add a new journal reflection..." type of distinction in the directions. And then add your

  • 3 things that surprised you when you learned about them,
  • 2 of the most important concepts that you wrote in your notes to remember,
  • 1 thing you could probably teach in a different way and how you would teach it differently.

...or whatever your repeating journal prompt is.

Approach B - unique lesson prompts all posted in the same Journal (Assignment) tool.

We have some teachers who prefer different prompts for each lesson instead of the repeating prompt approach above. The workaround I share for them is a bit different. I'll use the same Unit/Lesson structure for the example as above.

  1. Create a new Assignment tool named "Unit 1 Journal."
  2. In the Unit Module, add a new Content Page named "Unit 1 Lesson 1 Journal"
  3. Edit the Page to begin with the journal prompt or reflection direction for that particular lesson.
  4. In a new paragraph type something like "Paste the journal response in a new Unit 1 Journal submission using the journal link below."
  5. That's where you'd embed the link to the Journal/Assignment Tool you have stashed away in the Assignment silo over in your class menu.
  6. Using SpeedGrader comments are added by the teacher for each submission or reviewed once at the end by the teacher for the points.
  7. In the end you wind up with one, journal'ish grade with a student submitting multiple, private reflections just to the teacher Smiley Happy

Approach C - unique grades for each journal entry; student has all entries at a glance in one space

A third approach that some teachers find easier to manage is available for teachers who don't want a shared grade over multiple journal entries. Instead, they'd like individual grades for individual journal activities but they still want the continuity and flow of thought for a student to have previous entries all in a single place for perhaps a culminating Unit level ultimate reflective activity or some PBL. In this approach the teacher creates a new word processing document such as in Word or Google Doc pre-loaded with each of that Unit's Journal reflections for every Lesson in the Unit. (TIP: Plus-it by dividing-up the original document with page breaks and placing the prompts on different pages with their respective Lesson numbers to leave a full page of space for the student's response below it.) The idea here is at the start of the Unit module's progress, perhaps on Unit overview Page, the student is instructed to grab their own instance of that journal file either by a file download if in Word (or by adding ".../copy" to a GoogleDoc URL for students to click-and-clone-for-their-own) that the student maintains in parallel to their Module progression and pacing. After every Lesson the teacher places a unique Assignment Tool named as Unit 1 Lesson 1 Journal (or whatever the numbers are (but maintaining a consistent, logical naming convention will facilitate alphabetization in the Assignment silo if you ever have to look for it there) and directs the students in the Assignment tool...

  1. to open their Journal document and complete the prompt for Unit 1 Lesson 1
  2. save their changes to the file (if using a local productivity suite application that doesn't auto-save like Gdocs does)
  3. submit their file to the Assignment tool.

In SpeedGrader the teacher will use Crocodoc to view the student's journal file scrolling to that lesson's writing prompt response providing feedback and a grade to that Assignment Tool. At the end of the Unit the teacher was able to provide a unique points value for every Assignment Tool journal attachment, and the student winds up with a Word or Google doc that can be scrolled through easily to revisit each Lesson level reflection/response prior to completing the Unit culminating whatever it is that awaits them.

Approach D - a recycled journal prompt earning unique grades submitted to individual Assignment tools with all reflections winding up in the same place for the student at the end of the unit.

This is a mashup that leverages Approaches A, B and C to your needs.

These plans all depend on listening to what end-result each individual teacher is looking for from their student (and also their own teacher feedback/grading level of engagement) and then helping the teacher shade and appropriate the Assignment Tool settings and/or recurrences to meet their preferences. There are so many more approaches to journaling out there, but these are four that I can speak to directly by helping teachers view the Assignment tool application in a new light. Share back if any of these help or if you have a different approach you've been using.

Wow! Thank you for the extensive and detailed information on the possible workarounds!! Smiley Happy

Community Champion

Sure thing,  @kona ​.

Community Team
Community Team

I just watched a video --part of the Canvas FastTrack Series by  @lstark --that shows how to leverage Canvas Groups to create a graded journaling activity for students. It's a nifty and simple solution: have a look! Canvas FastTrack - Let’s Start a Journal - YouTube

Community Champion

Love the Canvas FastTrack series by Leslie Stark too Stefanie Sanders. The YouTube Channel is perfect for us, especially having the closed captioning done on them! Thanks!

Community Champion

Hi Celia -- can you point me in the right direction for more details on the Class Notes LTI?


Community Participant

No problem.  Just go in as an admin or a teacher.  Select your instance/class and go to settings.  When you get there choose the tab called Apps and search for the OneNote app or LTI and install it.  You may have to get a consumer key to find out more and to register for a consumer key and shared secret, visit Canvas'  information page.