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Community Member

Assigning a Google Doc to Canvas Groups

I need to create a group assignment using a Google Doc I've created. How do I do this? Assignments won't allow you to assign an External Tool to Canvas groups and Canvas Discussions was too slow of a process for my students to collaborate in real time. I would use Canvas Collaborations and simply copy/paste my Google Doc template into the students' Doc that gets created, but I have cross-listed my courses and don't want to make 31 collaborations every time I want them to do a group activity (yes I have a course with 31 groups - one cross-linked course with 4 sections broken up into groups of 3 students).

If I create a new Canvas Collaboration and add all 31 of my pre-created Canvas groups into "Add Collaborators", will that assign the collaboration activity to the individual groups or will ALL ~90 students be collaborators on the same document?  PLEASE tell me it is the former and not the latter.  I CANNOT possibly set up 31 collaborations for one single assignment and then copy and paste my template 31 times.

There has to be a simpler way to push out a Google-based assignment to a Canvas group so that neither I, as the teacher, nor my students have to click through multiple steps.  

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Community Champion

I believe collaborations allows all users to edit a single document.  Have you considered downloading your file out of google, saving it in files in canvas, and putting a link to it in the instructions of a group assignment?  Then you can give your students instructions for how to create their own collaborations in google docs using the document you provided:

Office 365 is also an option you can enable for student collaborations:

Community Contributor

One way is to provide the share, view only, link inside the assignment instructions, have a group leader make a copy and either share it with their group members or create a share, edit link and post that to a group discussion so everyone can work on it.

If you are doing this regularly throughout the semester, one of our instructors has them set up team folders, shared with everyone in the team.  Then each week the team leader makes a copy of any group work and puts it in that folder so it is instantly shared with all the group members.  

Here's our instructions for making team folders.  We also have a team leader sign up sheet as their first assignment.


The first person here is now the Module 1 Team Leader for your group!  How can you tell if it is you?  

Scroll down.  If there is not a submission you are the first person here and now Module 1 Team leader!  Please follow the instructions below to submit the group's Google Drive group working folder link.  The first person to submit is the only one that can change the submission.  Everyone in the group will be able to see their group submission.

  1. Login to Google with your email.
  2. Create a Google Drive folder  and name it your team with "Team number - course number - and semester" as shown in this example:   "Team 5 - BIOL1009ON - Fall 2020"
  3. Go to the People on the course site and click on the tab with your group name lookup your group members in the participant link.  It is on the left side of the course site.  
  4. Share the folder  (edit rights) with your group members using their email addresses. You may be able to type in the names and Google will automatically find the address.  You can also find the address, if they have allowed it, by going to and putting their name in the search bar.  If you are unable to find an address, post in the group forum that you need their address.
  5. Share the folder (edit rights) with your instructors, [insert email here]
  6. Create a share link to your folder and submit it here.  Be sure it is a link to the folder itself.  
  7. You may also want to post the link to your share folder in your group forum.
  8. Now go to the sign-up sheet, follow instructions, and sign yourself up as Module 1 team leader.

I am not in higher education, but a high school teacher with students who are not so tech savvy.  I need the most simple of simple ways to push out an assignment to them and for them to submit back.  I also don't have time, myself, for lengthy steps to set up an assignment.  I have two Canvas courses currently, both that have been cross-linked.  One course has 2 sections with roughly 25 students in each section.  My second course has 4 sections with 25 students each.  Canvas is already confusing for them so I need a streamlined process.

I don't want my students to have access to Collaborations unless I assign them something that requires it as I teach in a high school.  I created an assignment last week that I wanted my students to work on in small groups so I created the collaborations rather than having the students create it.  I created 18 different collaborations and assigned one of 18 pre-made groups into each collaboration as collaborators.  Then, I manually went into each Collaboration and pasted in the assignment template I wanted them to fill out.  It took forever to set up!  On assignment day, the kids were seeing multiple collaborations for other groups that they weren't even assigned to.  I'm not sure why (some of which belong to a different section of my class which is a privacy concern).  Then, when they clicked on any of them, even the ones in which they were assigned, they either didn't have access or nothing loaded.  I thought they could only see a collaboration in which they were assigned, so it's weird they had multiple showing up in their collaborations section.  And, not even multiple of the same collaboration, but collaborations assigned to other students. All that time wasted!  I ended up having to assign the Google Slides to individual students and have them do it by themselves.

All that set-up was why I suggested using group assignments and having the students create their own collaboration.  There may also be a difference to the way the collaboration is set up at the course level even when it is only assigned to groups, but when students create their own collaboration from groups, only members of their own group (and you) should have access. 

There are other forums for students to work on group assignments, and so the most efficient path to communicating instructions for group assignments is through .  (They can communicate by canvas message, for example.)  Collaborations can simply be provided as a tool to be used in completing group assignments.  The advantage for you in getting students to use collaborations, is that you can monitor their progress.  You should have access to see every collaboration they start and what work they have done in it. 

Your students may find it easier to communicate about group work through conferences.  They can use their groups to set up bigbluebutton meetings with only other group members, and it will let them interact as if they are virtually in a group together in your classroom.