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Surveyor II

Using Google Drive and course integrity issues

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I'm having some challenges understanding the value of an instructor using a Google Drive file in their course -- where the link stays the same from term to term (as intended), but the content of that file can change from term to term.

For example, an instructor links to a Google Drive file in their assignment instructions during term A.
Then in term B, the instructor updates that file with adjusted instructions (and continues using that same link during term B).
When that file is updated, the course content of term A is no longer correct ... students did not use the current version of the file, they used an older version of it.  Going to the course taught during term A will not reflect what the students saw/used. 

So the course integrity of term A has been compromised by using the Google Drive file in the assignment. 

I'm looking for (but not seeing) caveats related to this in the Canvas instructor guide pages for Google Drive, cloud assignments, etc. 

What have I missed? Is anyone else looking at this? 


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Hi Kmeeusen, 

Yes, I've posted this issue to the New Idea Conversation already ... However, someone replied (without addressing the concern), then they archived the conversation like it wasn't worthy of attention.  I immediately replied to the archived message (a couple of weeks ago), but haven't heard back from anyone. 

Thank you for sharing your experience and confirming this can be a real issue for some faculty members/universities!  For now, I guess we're on our own?! 🙂 



Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi @lettgo583 

As for "caveats", I don't know of any that are documented, but Canvas users who embed dynamic content have known of this for some time. I started using GoogleDocs for my syllabi early in 2013, and noted the very next term that when I updated my syllabus for the new term, it also updated it in the previous term - bad juju!

While this feature can be very handy, it also comes with some drawbacks - that same dynamic functionality, makes it useless for documents from which grades can be derived.

Are you asking that this be noted in the Guides somewhere? If so, you could create a new Idea Conversation in this community.

Good luck,


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Hi chofer, 

Thanks for your reply!  Yes, there doesn't seem to be any issues with students using/accessing Google Drive files as you described.

The challenge comes in where faculty uses Google Drive to store instructions or other informational files that students view (but not download). If the content of those files are changed from term to term (the link doesn't change, only the content), then the course integrity is lost for the original term. 

Within the Canvas instructions, I was looking for some kind of warning/caveat directed to faculty so they are aware this can be an issue using Google Drive files within their Canvas courses.

Is there someone at Canvas who is looking at this? Thank you, again! 



Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello there, @lettgo583 ...

I think I follow what you have thanks for that detail.  The way I understand Google cloud assignments (and for that matter, Office 365 cloud assignments, too) is that when a student accesses the cloud assignment in your Canvas course and starts working on the assignment, it actually creates a copy of that document and places it in the student's own Google or O365 account.  So, the original document that is in your Google or O365 account is never harmed.  I've not really experimented with the scenario you've described where the original document that was linked has been modified in some way (but the link remains the same from course to course).  But, students who were in Course A would have a copy of the instructor's document in their own account that they could edit.  This is described more in the blue boxes of:

I'm not sure if I am totally answering your question or not, but I hope some of this might be of help to you.  Sing out if you have any other questions about this...thanks!