Using Groups to Allow for Journaling and Blogging

Community Contributor

After meaning to get to this for a couple of years, I've finally put together video instructions on how to set up Canvas to allow for graded journals or blogs.

When I was teaching composition, I knew that engaging with writing as a consistent practice was one of the best ways to improve writing. But I also knew from experience that unless I allowed time in every class meeting for journaling, certain students were likely to wait and try to create all of their entries in a single session, in order to meet the assignment requirements. So, I stopped assigning journals, because it didn't seem like students were understanding the value of the process.

When I started using Canvas in 2012, I decided to experiment with journaling again. I hit on this idea to use groups of one person and to create group discussion board assignments each week for the required journaling. The idea here is that this is private writing between the student and the instructor. I've also set up the journal topics as intentional think-work meant to scaffold up to the larger essay assignments.

I have since seen this strategy discussed in other places, so there's nothing really amazing or unique about this approach. But here's the how-to video (as well as some why-to) that I shared with the faculty at my college. I hope this is useful for some of you.

Community Participant

 @tom_gibbons   Love this! Thanks for sharing!

Community Contributor

I liked it before even reading it, based on the pancake bun...! ; )

Community Champion

Nicely explained  @tom_gibbons nd I love your Tip of the Week idea. 

Community Member

I have a question regarding the journaling set up. If I have 8 students in my course I will split students  up into 8 equal groups. If I want them to journal for 6 weeks do I need to complete this process 6 different times? They will not be graded on the activity, I only want to see they completed the activity. Will they be able to click on the Journal discussion and add to it each week?

Thank you for your assistance.

Community Member

@tom_gibbons : Interested in trying out your solution. The video is not available on YouTube. Can this be accessed somehow?

Community Contributor

@TLopez3 unfortunately, I think this is on a previous employer's YouTube channel. I don't have any access to it at this point. 

Community Contributor

@Cathy_Germano You can set this up as a weekly journal--you only set the groups up once.

You can do this a couple of ways from there.

  1. Way number one
    1. create the discussions for each week
    2. and set the discussions to be assigned to the Group Set for journals
  2. Way number two
    1. create one discussion and set the expectation that students visit it each week. 
    2. set the discussion to be assigned to the journal group set
    3. create a calendar entry for each week that directs students back to their journal, so they don't forget about it. 

With the new discussion enhancements, I know that you'll be able to create multiple due dates for discussions, but I'm not sure how many.