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New Google Add-On Perfect for Canvas Users

Community Member
6 11 3,261

As a teacher at a one-to-one school who uses G Suite and Canvas as an Learning Management System (LMS), few things are more annoying than the "You must request permission" screen.

This happens a lot for my teachers and I. You give an assignment description on Canvas, the student creates their work in a Google Doc or Slides presentation, they turn it in on Canvas, but they only share the local version from their computer, which is really just a fancy link.

Or, the student just gives you a share link, so you can see it, but only by loading the link in a new tab and not in the Spred Grader window. Annoying!

Google Classroom gets around this issue by creating a new folder for the assignment and putting all the created Docs there. It's great because you can see the work in progress, letter-by-letter as the student works. This isn't perfect either though, because Google Classroom is very limited in functionality compared to a full-featured LMS.

Often over the last few years I have said that eventually Google will spin-off that shared folder ability from Classroom so that you can use it elsewhere. Then, a few weeks ago, I got impatient and decided to stop waiting for Google and just make it myself.

And, Class Folder Creator was created as a Google Sheets Add-On. Now, simply by creating a by period list of student names and email addresses, you can create a folder for each of your students that they will create all their work in, and you will have access to all of it.

Here's how it works

  1. Click here to install Class Folder Creator (free).
  2. Click Setup Sheet from the Class Folder Creator Menu.
  3. Put your class name and largest class size.
  4. Input the list of student names and email addresses into the associated columns.
  5. Click "Create Folders" in the Class Folder Creator Menu .
  6. Magic!

Now, each of your students had a folder shared with them on Google Drive with Their Name - Class Name - Period #. You will have a folder for each period, and within that, each of that period's student folders.

When Johnny raises his hand in class and says they need help, you can go straight to his folder and pull up the document he is working on to start providing feedback and support.

When Johnny finishes his work, you will have access to it no matter which way he turns it in.

This was a labor of love, and like all Google Add-Ons is completely free. It is my first Google Add-On, so if you have any thoughts for improvement or comments, let me know!

You can find more details about the add-on at the add-on site.

Surveyor‌ you immediately came to mind when I saw this...

Adventurer III

bradshreffler Thank You for sharing this awesome find. It makes things a lot easier for working with students and Google files. Now if I could only get my kids' teachers to use this. Smiley Wink

Learner II

Forgive me if I'm missing something, but doesn't this just trade the problem of students using the wrong sharing settings (I currently have them turn things in as URLs in Canvas using the Link Sharing settings in Google Docs) for the new problem of students not saving their stuff in the right spot in their Drive?

I mean, I'm torn on whether or not that trade-off would be worth it as-is (my main worry is that I have a lot of drops and adds throughout the term, so I'd constantly be having to keep this updated), but I'm wondering if I'm missing part of the magic here.

Context: I teach online math classes to middle and high school students. I use Google Docs for their weekly in-depth/problem-solving assignments where they have to show their work and explain their solution process. Training them to use Link Sharing is a major hassle of mine the first few weeks of the term, although they mostly figure it out within a month since they get zeroes on everything Google-based they turn in until they do. (I let them re-submit the assignments for full credit with the sharing settings fixed - it's a case of temporarily giving no points for something I can't grade rather than a case of punishing them for getting it wrong.) 

Adventurer II

At least you have the option of doing cool things like this with Google!

I could see some benefits for staff having something like this for sharing resources?

I am guessing the Google LTI does not help in this instance?

Great idea and huge kudos for creating something like this to share with the Community!

Community Member


There may not be any magic you're not missing. I often find that with classroom resources, especially teacher organization tools, what is the program one can't live without is useless to another.

A couple things in response though. Yes, it kinda replaces the problem from teaching link sharing to teaching organization. I would argue that organization is a more applicable life skill though, so there is some value there. Also, link sharing doesn't let you use SpeedGrader in Canvas, which to me at least, completely defeats the point of using Canvas (slightly hyperbolic, but you get my point). 

Also, the other thing this allows is seeing your students' work in-progress. With link submitting, you only see the work once they create the link and submit it to you. That might not be relevant in your online class, but for in-person classes, students want support on their work all the time, so being able to quickly and easily pull it up and add notes or give feedback real-time via Google Docs can be powerful. 

As for regularly updating, I am still playing with how to make that part easier. Currently, it is really easier to just manually create new folders as students join, as the program doesn't look for existing period folders. That will be coming in a future update though, if people say they want that.

Thanks for your feedback!


Navigator II

This looks like a simpler version of Doctopus. I used that addon heavily teaching a course using Google to organize documents and Canvas for submission. Doctopus goes a step further by allowing you to set up templated assignments that are automatically copied to the student folders. They can be view only or editable, and even have the document copied into the students' Drives rather than everyone editing a single shared document.

The only drawback with Doctopus is that it is way complicated for a beginning user. This could close that gap. Thanks for sharing. 

Community Member‌ I used Doctopus a long time ago and didn't realize they had added all of this! Thanks.

Navigator II

bradshreffler‌ I'd be happy to help with the checking for existing folders before running. Is your script posted somewhere live (Github, etc?)

And if students submit links to documents, it is a live version and opens fine in SpeedGrader. My habit was to have them submit as soon as they made the doc so I could check in periodically, only grading after the submission deadline. The only time a document isn't a live version is if they do a File Upload or pull in with the Google Drive app through Canvas LTI.

Learner II

This is great! I will get our team to look at adding this to our Canvas. 

Learner II


Thanks for the thoughtful reply! This does sound like it's a case of different use cases making different features matter more. Since my students work on their assignments asynchronously throughout the week, the idea of trying to digitally look over their shoulder while they work isn't important to my use case. (Sometimes I do seen them "in" their docs while I'm grading them, presumably because they just got an automated email about one of my comments and hopped over to see what else was going on and start revising, but it's rare.)

Link sharing definitely works with SpeedGrader for me. I have all of my assignments set as "website URL" assignments (not the Google tab in "file upload" assignments since I can't restrict those to JUST the Google URL option) and routinely grade them in SpeedGrader using rubrics within SpeedGrader. The "screenshot" feature showing what the doc looked like at the time of upload doesn't work (shows a screenshot of the login screen instead), but access to the doc works fine when I click on the URL to load the doc in the SpeedGrader pane as long as student have their permissions set correctly. I usually grade by giving lots of comments in the Google Doc rather than in SpeedGrader and then recording the grade using the rubric in SpeedGrader.

Since my classes are so asynchronous, what I do for feedback is leave assignments open for a while after the due date (available until date about two weeks after the due date). I try to grade things the week after they are due, giving lots of comments and feedback as needed. Then, they have another week or two  to revise their work and re-submit it based on feedback. If they re-submit, I use the version history in the Google Doc to see what they changed and re-grade based on their changes. If a student is still making active progress, I'll often differentiate the assignment in Canvas to give them a later "available until" date so they can keep revising and resubmitting as long as they're still working on it. (I don't leave these weekly assignments open all term in general because I don't want to grade 3 months worth of hastily-typed and poorly-thought-out work that was completed the last day of the semester in a caffeine and stress fueled marathon. If they have fewer assignments open when they try to "catch up" in that situation, they're more likely to spend enough time on the few available assignments to actually complete them properly rather than spend 10 minutes flailing at each one in turn. I also drop the lowest 3 scores from the term to further encourage this "do some of these well rather than all of these poorly" idea.)

(For those with more questions about how I run my class, I should point out that these are one of the three types of assignments I use. I also use Canvas Quizzes as autograded "homework" problems that match each online lesson and proctored pencil-and-paper tests at certain points in the term to give clear intermediate deadlines and make sure that students are able to do the math with a more typical set of "school" constraints rather than the unsupervised online environment. The Google Doc weekly assignments are specifically to build student skills around tackling a more complicated problem not directly related to the examples in that week's lessons and explaining their process clearly. Since the focus is on explaining and process, lots of revisions make sense. It's a particularly nice, if time-consuming, way to teach proof-writing, but I use it in my non-proof-based classes too, mostly with applied problems.)


So, they would save to this folder, but still turn in the link via the Canvas assignment, allowing teachers to grade the work in Speedgrader?  Thanks!