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How to create a signup sheet for students to pick a topic?

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I want to create a signup sheet where the students pick their term paper topic.  I have a list of about 40 topics to choose from and I want only 1 student to signup for each topic.  Is there a way to do this in Canvas?

I am having trouble finding how to do this in Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, and Doodle as well.  Even if I figure out how to do it at one of these places, it would be good to integrate this into Canvas somehow.

Thanks.

52 Replies

Thanks laurakgibbs!  I agree about the power of spreadsheets and particularly the Google Drive suite of programs that can be updated by any number of individuals simultaneously.  I also appreciate that in the version history Google helps note what changes were made from one revision history to another.  I was thinking about the signup from a single class perspective where all you want is to have a list of topics and have only one student sign up for each of these.  A Google sheet would be much easier when you want to ensure that only one student picks a topic across multiple sections. I appreciate the link to your blog as well!

That's what I really like about Canvas: there are native tools that people can use, like the Pages, but then if people have other needs/wants, it's so easy to integrate other kinds of content and data tools, like Google and all kinds of web-based services! 🙂

Eric - One thing to be aware of is that Canvas' wiki pages are not good if you anticipate more than one student working on it at the same time.  We ran into an issue with that a few years ago.  I can't find anything to back me up online with this, so it may very well have been fixed, but it's worth knowing about to maybe test out first.  (Though to be sure, with something like a sign-up sheet this may not be much of an issue.)

Thanks Ken!  What issue did you run into, so I can keep my eye out for something similar?  I use wiki pages in classes when I want participants to collect information on a topic and share it for everyone to review and reflect upon.  Mostly the classes are online and folks have a week to research and contribute so the chance that two individuals trying to edit the page at the same time are relatively small, but I wondered what would happen if by chance this did occur.  Thanks again for the insight.

Alas, Eric, being over 50 my memory of things like that have slipped away into the distant foggy horizon never to be seen again.  I can't remember if the other student was locked out or if Canvas simply ignored what they typed in.  And to be sure, this was an entire class of 15+ students doing something.  I'm off to a meeting now, but if I remember (ha!) I can try it myself, since I'm an admin and have a phony student account or two that I can try.

Appreciate the help Ken!  I train faculty on both Google Drive and Canvas, and have been talking about how much I like the tools in  Canvas, such as the wiki page option.  As we talk about engaging activities in F2F and hybrid environments, I can bring up these options for collaborative learning or even group work with some things to keep in mind about each such as what to consider if you have students in class working together on documents at the same time.

I'm pinging lindalee@wharton.upenn.edu‌ here to see if she has seen this problem because I know she uses Canvas Pages for collaborative student editing.

There are so many options for doing this!

Canvas Pages

First to answer laurakgibbs‌' question about using Canvas Pages:

I use Canvas Pages as a way for my students to sign up for different topics, as ametcal@clemson.edu‌ asks about in the original post. In my Folk 101 (Introduction to Folklore) course, I do this with two assignments: In the first, I provide a list of scholars/collectors for students to research and write a short biography of. Those bios are crowdsourced and students present them to each other via Canvas Pages. In the second, they self-select a digital trend topic to research. In both cases, they modify the sign up page to put (their name) next to the scholar/collector, or add their topic (and their name) to the page. The sign-up Page is configured to be editable by students and teachers.

Students are instructed to choose different topics/scholars, and in several semesters of using this setup, I haven't experienced problems with students changing the data that's there. I make sure that they know that a page history is available, so in the event that someone does make a change, it's easy to investigate.

I have students share their work via another Canvas Page (also set to be editable by students), which is linked to the sign-up page. The primary advantage of this approach for me is that it keeps all student work within Canvas, and through the process of signing up, they demonstrate that they'll be able to edit a page to share their final work.

Embedded Google Sheet or Doc

And as many have discussed here, you can also embed an editable Google Sheet or Google Doc. sanders@indiana.edu‌ has an excellent explainer for how to do this: Using Google Docs for dynamic Canvas content.

Scheduler

As David Willmore suggests, Scheduler (What is the Scheduler? , part of Canvas Calendar, if your institution has it enabled) can be one way of ensuring that only one person can sign up for a topic. However, it creates an appointment on the student's calendar -- so this is probably best if there's a meeting time (for a conference with the faculty member, or a class presentation, etc.). If not, it might be a bad fit.

An advantage is that a set of appointment groups can be shared over multiple Canvas sites, and this tool can also be used for group sign ups.

Canvas Groups

If students were working in pairs (or larger groups), you could use the Group self-sign up function (What are Groups? ), and name each group according to the topic. We use this approach in some of our classes. (dittor@wharton.upenn.edu‌ and I did a series of Canvas Live events on various types of Groups in Canvas: CanvasLIVE: Groupies series )

Unfortunately, you cannot create self-signup groups of one. Alas. You can place students into groups of one (by creating a group set of groups equal to the number of students in the course, which will automatically place students into separate groups). But this would lack the ability for students to sign up for a particular topic. So this is probably the one approach that won't work.

Oh wow, this is great, lindalee@wharton.upenn.edu‌ ... what a useful overview of all the different approaches people might use! THANK YOU!

Lots of good information here.  Thanks lindalee@wharton.upenn.edu!  You make a good point about letting students know that a page revision history is available.  Although it could be a great way to bring up a discussion about etiquette, good decision-making, and how much user data is collected by websites and programs these days!