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Build a dropbox feature for bidirectional, private file sharing

Build a dropbox feature for bidirectional, private file sharing

Before submitting this idea, I looked around and found this:


I see the notes and understand that some of the functionality of a "dropbox" exists, but I don't believe it's complete.


We are in the process of moving from Sakai to Canvas and this missing feature has definitely been a problem for us.  We would like each student in each course to have a "dropbox".  This "folder" would be accessible only to the student and to the teachers/GAs for the course.  This would allow bidirectional file sharing in a private manner.


I know for student submissions we could approximate this by using assignments.  And teachers can push files to everyone via the course files.  The gap I see is that there is a need to share an "unlimited" number of files back and forth between teachers and students throughout the entire semester (at any time).  And this would allow for sharing of such files both ways.  Private, one person assignments, and private submissions back to the teacher.


Unless I'm missing it, students or teacher "files" cannot be used for this.  Assignments could "sort of" be used for this.  Course "files" don't really work either.


Does this further illuminate the need, beyond idea 4139?

Community Team
Community Team


This is a very well written idea!  We really appreciate the detail and use case.

Before we look at moving this forward, I'm curious to know if you have explored Collaborations?​  Collaborations use Google Docs, but they still possess a lot of the functions you explain above.  Would you check them out and then let me know what you think from there?



Absolutely, and I do think Collaborations hits on some of the needed functionality.  It seems that teachers could have a one on one collaboration with a student and therefore have some back and forth in a "google document".  This makes sense.

However, what I'm asking for is a folder in which more than just text could be shared.  What if a student wants to upload N (any number) of files of various types to share with teacher and vice versa?

One of the great things about Google is flexibility and therefore power, but frankly, the flexibility creates confusion amongst some of our faculty.  Have a whole bunch of "shared documents" with various students is doable, but not as clean as a list of folders for each student that I could envision seeing in a Canvas tool.

Thanks for the consideration.

One last thought...I have to think as several former Sakai customers have moved and are moving to Canvas, that many of them might also have this request, as this is a regularly used feature in Sakai.  I'll see if I can get some support in this regard to expand upon my comments.

Community Member

We are also transitioning from Sakai to Canvas and we are finding the Instructors really did rely on the dropbox feature in Sakai and you have explained it very well! The only work around I could come up with was to make a group for each student and allow the student to use the "Files" in their group to share files with the instructor. I do think we need an "actual" dropbox feature also!

Community Member

I would like to second Brian's point related to the flexibility of Google Docs creating confusion amongst faculty. I would be hesitant to rely on Google Docs as a mechanism for private file sharing.

We (Stanford) are a (former) Sakai school that is in mid transition to Canvas. The Sakai drop box feature was used extensively on our campus, so we are strong advocates of the drop box feature that Brian has proposed.

While we are attempting to keep the transition to Canvas in a positive light on our campus, the lack of the drop box functionality is already causing much grief and anxiety amongst those users who have historically relied upon it in our Sakai system. We are eagerly awaiting the next voting period, so that we may cast our votes for Brian's proposed drop box feature. Smiley Happy

Learner II

At first we thought the Assignments tool would be a good enough approximation of the Sakai Drop Box, but our professors at Stanford have come up with a few scenarios that require the Drop Box functionality.

- Distributing individualized exam handouts (different one for each student). This scenario starts with instructors distributing content to students. The Assignments tool works best for the scenario of students submitting work first. I tested out trying to use an assignment to have instructors upload handouts as comments, but it was not easy for students to find where to get this file.

- Returning paper assignments. We have engineering classes where students submit paper assignments and bring to class. The TAs scan the assignments and mark them up. This was easy to do with Sakai Drop Box. This won't work with Assignments/SpeedGrader because the TAs or instructors are not able to submit on the students' behalf. They don't want to make the students do the scanning.

- Assignments with multiple drafts. Although this could be done with Assignments, the problem is that once a student uploads a new version of their assignment, they no longer have access to their old version or the comments tied to that version. Writing courses want to keep all drafts and feedback available to students. The Drop Box would allow that.

The workaround of creating a group for each student would only work for a small number of students, but would not be reasonable when there are hundreds of students.

Community Coach
Community Coach

This idea has moved to the next stage and will be open for voting among the Canvas Community, from Wed. March 2, 2016 - Wed. June 1, 2016.

Check out this doc for additional details about how the voting process works!

Community Member

This is definitely a feature I would need in order to move my courses to canvas, currently the Dropbox feature is essential to courses that have personalized homeworks. I really hope many more people see that Canvas without this is a step backwards from tools like coursework.

Learner II

I'm running migration workshops for faculty who are moving from Sakai to Canvas. I'm surprised by how many ask for the functionality of the Sakai Drop Box. There is nothing else like it in Canvas -  easy to use, nothing additional to set up, and the access/privacy settings are very straight-forward to understand. 

Community Team
Community Team

Thank you so much for all of the use cases on this idea.  We agree that there is a lot of potential with a complete dropbox integration.  After talking with the product team, this is not something we have planned in the next 6-18 months.  Please follow this thread for updates if/when they are available.  We are going to archive this thread while there is nothing new to report.

Learner II

So this voting process really is a charade then...