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Community Participant

Is there a journal?

I need to create a way for students to collect a number of bi-weekly writing assignments in a private journal, or logbook, or portfolio.The complete collection of assignments will eventually be graded, but they will not necessarily be read or marked as soon as they are written.Students should also be able to go back and add to, or change their posts, or at least comment on them, and I need to do that too. I used to use the journal function in Blackboard for this, but can't find an equivalent in Canvas. In a response to another question I saw the suggestion to create individual discussions for each student, and that might work, although it will not be possible to set this up until the students have been added to the course because until then I cannot be sure how many they are. I would like to be able to do most of the setting up before term starts. 🙂 The e-portfolio looked promising, but that is not something I can assign and grade in a course, is it? An open assignment would work, I suppose, but that would mean opening six or seven different submissions per student, instead of just scrolling down, wouldn't it? And students would not be able to go back and change anything, would they? Perhaps discussions is the best option? Grateful for any suggestions .

8 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @karin_molander_ , greetings and welcome to the Community! An assignment wouldn’t work because not only can students not edit their posts they lose the ability to see what has been previously submitted as soon as they submit something new - so students can only see the most recent submission. 

A discussion could work. And, if you don’t want a lot of discussions muddying up your gradebook (if you did one per student), you could do ONE discussion, but make it a group discussion. Then you would make each student their own group so that way they could only see and participate in their “groups” part of the discussion - so one discussion, but each student has their own special area to post. You could leave the edit functionality for discussions open so students could change things and allow them to attach files to their posts. So while not perfect, it does sound like it could work. 

The only other thing thing I can think of is using something like Google Drive and have each student have their own folder - that you could embed on a page - and students could add/create their assignments to this folder. This would require all students have a google account and you would need a separate assignment for the grade, but otherwise it could work as well. 

Hope this helps!


Community Team
Community Team

 @karin_molander_  Welcome to the Canvas Community! You might be interested in employing this creative use of groups to facilitate journaling:  

Community Participant

Thank you Kona, that was really helpful. I will certainly try group discussions, then. Looks like they might look more or less like journals in Blackboard, (which is what I used up to last term) when used in this way. Embedding sounds more complicated to try out now, but I will keep it in mind. And thanks so much for the friendly welcome; really wonderful to be able to get such generous help and ideas! 🙂

Thank you very much Stephanie! 

Community Champion

Hi  @karin_molander_ ‌! As Kona mentioned, you can use a tool like GoogleDocs (a real tool, useful for students to learn in my opinion), and my students create blogs with Google's Blogger tool. All the work they do for the class is reflected in their blogs, and they record the work as they complete it by using true/false quizzes in Canvas; the quizzes are simple checklists, and they answer "true" to let me know the work is done. I don't know if those kinds of strategies would work for you, but I've documented them here:

Quiz Declarations:

Student Gradebook Declarations 

Student Blog Network: 

Setting up the blog is something the students do right at the start of the semester, and it's very empowering; most of them have not blogged before, and they are happy to find out that it is no harder than sending email -- it's just new, so it takes a little practice:

Online Course Wiki / Blogger 

I display the posts from the student blog network inside Canvas, as you can see here (click, it's open; I keep my classes open) - this is the blog stream for my India class for example:

Blog Stream: Indian Epics 

(school starts next week, but some of the students are using this week to get a head start)

I teach college students, and they are very glad to be using real tools that they can expect to use in their professional lives (many of them are graduating seniors, very much focused on what they can do to prepare themselves for the world of work).

Thank you very much, Laura. My university is switching from Blackboard to canvas this fall, and I have very little time to organize my courses, so I will have to go with the easiest solution for now. But I will certainly look into your grading system and use of blogs, etc, which sounds really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

You're welcome! I try to document everything and share widely because I know my students are really motivated to work on their blogs, which is a big plus I think: the power of intrinsic motivation! 🙂

Community Participant

The top two links are broken. Can you repost? I'd like to see them. Thanks.