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Community Champion

submitting personal files

Hi -- in our former LMS we had a function called Dropbox (not to be confused with the commercial tool of the same name), where each student in the course had his/her own box. Our faculty routinely have students drop one or more files into the box, which the instructor can then view. I've thus far been unable to find a feasible solution for this in Canvas. Discussions only allow a single attachment. I thought of having students store files in their personal files and link to them from a discussion reply, but students aren't comfortable having two browser windows open at once, and grabbing multiple URLS (short of handwriting them) can be arduous and prone to errors when typing them into the discussion reply.

The solution we're currently trying was to create a group composed of all students in the course and ask the students to create a folder with their name and submit the files there. The instructor can access them but is not comfortable with the several steps it takes to access the group space files and drill down to the individual items.

Has anyone else run into this and determined a good solution? Ideas?


12 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach


Have you tried creating an assignment with online submissions that has no due date or until date?  This will allow the students to submit to the assignment as many times as they need to and will also allow the instructor to view each of their submissions in the SpeedGrader.


Community Coach
Community Coach

cholling​, in our previous LMS we had something called Dropbox as well. In Canvas this is called an Assignment - the confusion in Canvas is that there are two uses for the word Assignment.

One use of the word "Assignment" means the link on the left of every course which opens up the Assignment index page which includes any type of assignment (Quiz, Discussion, & Assignment) that students are submitting things to - How do I use the Assignments Index Page?

Yet, the other use of the word "Assignment" means a place where students can submit "online through text entry, file uploads, media recordings, Google Docs, URLs, or Canvas pages" - What are the different Assignment types available to instructors in Canvas courses?

As  @Robbie_Grant  indicated above, it seems like you would want to have your instructors create "Assignments" in place of where they would have normally created Dropboxes. Assignments can handle multiple uploads of files at the same time or at different times. Yet, you wouldn't want to mix up different assignments (as in things Instructors are assigning) in the same Assignment (place to upload files in Canvas). The way Canvas is setup you would want to create a different Assignment (in Canvas) for each different graded (or non-graded) assignment. Sorry for the confusion, but I want to make sure I'm being clear.

As an example, if these are the things I'm having my students do and turn in (aka - assignments) - Research Paper (worth 100 points), Film Review (worth 50 points), Article Critique (30 points) - then in Canvas I would create a different Assignment for each of them. I could then specify the number of points each assignment was worth, due dates/times, types of allowed files, etc - How do I add details to an Assignment?

To help a little with the confusion when we were transitioning I referred to Assignments (as in a place to upload files in Canvas) as "Assignment Dropboxes" to my faculty. Since it was a word they were use to it helped ease the confusion and help them better understand how to use "Assignments" in Canvas.

Hope all this helped and please let me know if you'd like additional clarification on anything!

The problem with using assignments is that it goes only to the instructor. The idea is for students to submit multiple journal articles in their field of interest and the other students read them, then do compare/contrasts across specialty nursing areas.

Community Participant

Could you not use the Peer Review function for the assignment? This would allow students to see the articles and comment on them.

Alternately, if you want more discussion about them, you could create a Discussion (ungraded) and enable the setting to allow students to attach files to discussion posts (this is found in the settings for your course under "more options").

Community Champion

We have the option to attach files enabled, but as far as I can tell from practice and documentation, it only allows a single attachment. Please correct me and explain how that's inaccurate!!! I'd love for it to be.

Community Contributor

I setup a test discussion in my test course. I bounced between the test student and myself. I could attach a file with every reply in the thread.

I hope that helps.

Community Champion

yes, One file, but not multiple files, which is what we need. Thanks for taking the time to check.

Community Champion

If it were me, I would ask the students to use Google Drive or a similar service. The students could upload the files to their Google drive and share the files by posting links to the files on a Canvas discussion. Other students and the instructor could access the files through the posted links and comment on the files by posting replies to the person who posted the links.

Alternately, perhaps the new Microsoft OneNote LTI tool could be somehow leveraged to meet this need?

Office Mix delivers LTI support and integration with major LMS providers - Office Blogs

Of course, if the journal articles come from databases available from your institution's library, many databases will include a permalink to the article. If this is the case, the students could post links to the articles in the databases instead of saved files.

I hope that helps cholling​.

Community Contributor

cholling​, you might also be able to use Pages for this. Create a wiki page that students can edit. Then they can upload files and post links to their file on that page. How do I create a file link in a Page as a student?