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Community Member

Journalling in Canvas

I wish to create a journal that individual students keep throughout the course, but which can be seen and ideally commented on by the teacher at intervals. At the moment an assignment seems the best option but can teachers view an assignment before it is submitted? Any suggestions? Thankyou.

9 Replies
Community Member

Welcome, .  Check out this link from and early discussion.


That's a great conversation to share! There are lots of great ideas and resources in the thread. Smiley Happy


Can you find the link again, it says page not found.  Thanks!

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Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi‌. Great question.

I've seen teachers set up groups with just one student in them. Then assigned a discussion to each group. They have used these for ongoing journals, reading logs, portfolios of work during the year, goal setting and reflections etc. Working really well, especially with the younger students. 


The one-student-to-a-discussion approach (whether done with Canvas Discussions, Google Doc, or Adobe Spark) keeps things simple in the Gradebook. The teacher just needs to remember to update the prompt and the due date. Sometimes I make a submission comment after each journal entry is graded, just so I remember how the accumulative score developed throughout the course.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate


If you have Office365 or Google and the LTI integration then there are two options you could consider:

1. The Collaboration tool

Set up a template Journal in a Google or Word Doc and then Share it with a small group of students. 


  • Students can see other students writing and peer review
  • Collaboration tool is live and does not require submission
  • You manage the file and they are "owned" by you
  • You can comment inline in the document 


  • You may not want students to see other students' reviews
  • Risk of deletion/alteration of review (although you can recover drafts in Word - not sure about Google)
  • Some IT Skills  training for students?

2. Assignment submission of URL

Set up an assignment. Independently create a template and send to students. At regular intervals ask students to submit the document via URL


  • Students don't submit any document
  • Only one submission is needed as the link allows access to the same document at any time
  • Document belongs to student
  • Any comments you make can go into the document itself and not SpeedGrader


  • You don't own the file so students could accidentally delete it
  • Some IT Skills  training for students?


Community Member

Many thanks to all that replied to my question last month, and my apologies for not replying sooner. The course I was designing is now live and working well.

In this thread and the other there were several options:

  1. BLOG - Students create a blog, share it into Canvas
  2. COLLABORATIVE DOCUMENT - Google/Word document shared with tutor
  3. DISCUSSION - Group discussion with students as groups of one
  4. ASSIGNMENT - Periodic journal assignments.

I wanted the reflection process to be continuous, and function as a kind of co-reflection where the tutor was always able to access what was being written, and engage with the student, for this reason the assignment option wasn't quite right.

The students we have are not especially computer literate, (a couple could even be described as "luddites and proud!") and for this reason I felt the blog option might be asking too much. This consideration also applied to the idea of using a collaborative document (leaving aside some students resistance to using Google).

So I went for the group discussion option, which is working remarkably well, the students and tutors are having fluent conversations that could be described as a continuous asynchronous tutorial. However, a problem has arisen. Many of the students would like to be able to save their journals, but I have not find a way to download specific discussions.

Has anyone encountered this issue?


This is so good to hear how it all went‌. 

You raise a good point about students wanting to save their discussions. I wonder if it can be done also. 

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This was super helpful!

@nickkearney Thank you for the excellent summary of ideas shared in this thread.

I was able to print a discussion board and save to PDF using my Chrome browser. This could be a good solution for students who want to save a discussion. I agree that Group Discussions provides the best discussion type experience.

I'm working with a writing instructor and excited about the Google Cloud Assignment (external tool assignment). Included is a screenshot of my sample journal. Students are able to author, edit, and submit their entries each week. Instructors can grade and provide feedback weekly. Since this is a single graded assignment I thought the instructor could add a cumulative grade each week building toward a final grade for the course. There may be better ways to do this.