Journal Options in Canvas

Journal Assignments are a great opportunity to have students reflect on their learning throughout the course and apply it to their personal lives and experiences. 

If you use Journals in your course, you may be wondering how to handle this kind of assignment in your Canvas course. You have a few options for how to deploy a Journal that is private between the student and instructor.

You can either treat the Journal like a traditional assignment and have students submit a document for each Journal entry or treat the Journal like a Discussion and create a Group Discussion for each student where each post is a separate Journal entry.

Submitting a Document

If you want to keep things simple, you can create Canvas Assignments in a separate Journal Assignment group and have students submit a document as their Journal. If you choose to do this, you may want to consider creating and providing a Journal template document that contains sections for each of the Journal entries the student will submit. This way each student knows how many entries and has a centralized document to add to for each entry.

Static Document

The easiest method for Journals in Canvas is to create a standard Canvas Assignment with an Online submission type for students to submit their Journal document. If you create a template document for their Journal, provide a link to it in the instructions of the first Assignment and then ask students to add to that document for each entry and submit the same document for each subsequent Journal Assignment.

Cloud Document (OneDrive)

If you want to take things up a notch and help students keep things centralized, you can create a Cloud Assignment in Canvas which will create a copy of an assigned document (like the Journal template) for each student. Then they can add to that document and submit it for each Journal Assignment.

Note: For this method, you will need to upload a document to OneDrive that you will assign to students. We recommend creating a Journal template document that has sections for each journal entry the student will submit.

To create the initial Cloud Assignment (and Cloud Document):

    1. Click Assignments on the course menu.
    2. Create a new Assignment using the + Assignment
    3. Create a name and description for your Journal Assignment.
    4. Enter the points for the assignment and select the Assignment Group.
    5. In the Submission Type drop-down menu, select the External Tool option.

Submission Type showing External Tool

    1. Click Find.

Find button indicated in the External Tool Options section.

    1. Locate and select Office 365 Cloud Assignment.

Office 365 Cloud Assignment selected in Configure External Tool

    1. If you want the assignment to load in a new tab (recommended), select the Load in a new tab checkbox.
    2. Click Select.
    3. Locate and select the OneDrive file you want to link to the Assignment, such as a Journal template document.
    4. Click Attach File.
    5. Once the OneDrive document has been added, click Select.
    6. When you are ready to publish your Assignment, click Save & Publish at the bottom.

After accessing and submitting to the initial Cloud Assignment, students will have a copy of their submitted Word document in their OneDrive account. They can submit this cloud document to subsequent Journal Assignments.

To create subsequent Journal Assignments:

    1. Create a standard Canvas Assignment with an Online submission type.
    2. Direct students to upload their Journal document from Microsoft OneDrive, which is a tab available when submitting their Assignment.

Tabs showing File Upload and Microsoft OneDrive when students submit an Assignment.

    1. Direct students to submit the same cloud document from OneDrive for each Journal Assignment, adding content to the corresponding section of the document for each Journal entry.

Using the Discussion Board

You can create a Group Discussion for each student which is private between instructor and student, but allows them to create posts throughout the course timeframe which are timestamped and threaded to show development over time.

To create the Journal:

    1. Click Discussions on the course menu.
    2. Create a new Discussion using the + Discussion.
    3. Name your Discussion (e.g. Self Reflective Journal).
    4. Enter the Journal instructions and settings (such as grading).
    5. Select This is a Group Discussion.
    6. Click New Group Category.
    7. Title your Group Set Name the same as the Journal Discussion title.
    8. In the “Split students into” section, enter the same number as the number of students in the course. This will automatically create a group for each student.

Split students into 20 groups shown in the Create a Group Set window.

    1. Click Save.
    2. Click Save again to create the Journal Discussion.

Rename each group to be the name of the individual student:

    1. Click People.
    2. Click the Self Reflective Journal tab (or whatever name you gave your group set).
    3. Click on each group name to reveal the name of the student assigned to it.
    4. Click the three dots on the right side of the group name and select Edit.
    5. Change the name of the group to be the name of the one student group member.
    6. Repeat for all groups.
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