Canvas How-To: Journals, Blogs, & Wikis

Instructors who convert previous Blackboard courses will find that Canvas does not have a built-in equivalent "tool" for journal, blog, and wiki course activities. However, these activities can be undertaken in Canvas to some degree using existing tools.

Skip to: Journals | Blogs | Wikis

Journals in Canvas

Activity description: Journals are an activity where students write successive entries in the same location that are visible only to the student and the instructor.

Solution: Use the Discussion tool to create private journals for each student using the Group Discussion feature.

Grading caveat: These journals can be graded and assigned due dates, but the grade and due date apply to the whole activity.  In other words, it is not possible to grade individual entries or assign due dates to individual entries.

Part 1: Create the Discussions

  1. In the Course Menu, click on the Discussion link
  2. Click on the +Discussions button on the top right.
  3. Type "Journal" into the Topic Title
  4. Add: instructions, grades, availability...
  5. Scroll down and choose the This is a Group Discussion option.
  6. Type a Group Set Name to describe the set of groups.
  7. In the Group Structure, choose to Split student into (_) groups.
  8. Enter the same number of students you have in the course, so each student has their own discussion/journal. 
  9. Click on the Save button.
    Create Group Set

Part 2: Rename the Discussions For Each Student

  1. In the Course Menu, click on the People link.
  2. Click on the tab related to the Group Set you created in Part 1. 
  3. Click on the on the name of the discussion (journal 1) to reveal the student who has been assigned to this discussion thread.
  4. Click on the Options icon and choose Edit.
    Canvas rename groups
  5. Rename of the group to the student's name so you can easily identify it in the list of Discussions.
  6. Click on the Save button.

Part 3: Read the Journals

The journaling activity is just another Discussion in the course.  It is available from the Discussions home page in the course, and a link to it can be added to the course Modules page.

Blogs in Canvas

Activity description: Blogs are an activity where students write successive entries in the same location that are visible to the whole class and the instructor.

Solution: Use the Discussion tool to facilitate student blogging in a course.  There are two ways to approach this activity but neither can restrict posting to specific students in the class:

  1. Instructor-created blog with separate "threads" for each student (perhaps created by instructor). This approach can be graded.
  2. Student-created blog that is added to the list of Discussions in the course. This approach cannot be graded.

Option 1: Instructor-created blog

Part 1: Create the blog prompt

  1. On the course Discussion home page, click +Discussion
  2. Give the activity a title
  3. Type any instructions and the blog prompt into the descripition area
  4. Check the box for "Allow threaded replies" to enable students to reply/comment on each other's thread
  5. If desired, check the box for "Graded" and assign points to the activity
  6. Click Save (not Save & Publish – you're not ready for students to see it yet!)

Part 2: Create the individual blog threads for each student

Go to the discussion/blog activity in the course and create the threads for each student.

  1. Click the "Reply" arrow beneath the prompt.
  2. Type the name of the student as the reply text (leave everything else blank)
  3. Click "Post Reply".
  4. Repeat for all students. 

These replies all function as the individual blog spaces for each student. Students click "reply" beneath their name in order to make their post. 

Create blog threads for each student

Part 3: Publish the Discussion.

After creating all the threads, click the Publish icon to make the activity available to the students.

Note that the students can be tasked with initially clicking Reply and identifying themselves at the top of their first post.  Subsequent posts would be created by clicking the small 'Reply' icon beneath their main post.

Option 2: Student-Created Blog

Part 1: Enable Student Discussions

This option depends on the instructor allowing students to create new discussion topics in the course. Check that this setting is enabled in the course:

  1. Go to the Discussions page and click the Options icon in the upper right
  2. In Student Settings, click the box for "Create discussion topics"
  3. Click Save Settings 

Enable student discussions

Part 2: Students Create a Discussion For Their Blog

Each student will do the following to create their own blog shell:

  1. In the course menu, click on the Discussion link
  2. Click on the +Discussion button on the top right.
  3. Type "YOUR NAME Blog" into the Topic Title (or whatever title instructions have been provided)
  4. Leave the description field empty unless instructed otherwise.
  5. In the Options, check "Allow threaded replies". Do not choose any other options.
  6. Click on the Save button.

To post a new blog entry in your blog feed, click the Reply icon at the top of the discussion area. To comment on another student's blog entry, click Reply underneath a specific entry.

Wikis in Canvas

Activity Description: A wiki is a small collection of web pages that are editable by multiple people. 

Solution: Canvas Pages. Students can use a series of Pages created by the instructor and linked together as the environment for their wiki project.

Grading Caveat: This solution cannot be directly graded.

Part 1: Create blank pages

In this solution, the instructor creates a series of empty pages for the students to use in the wiki activity. For example, if the instructor expects six total pages from a group of students, she will create six blank pages for that group (and six more for another group, and so on).

  1. In the Course Menu, click on the Pages link.
  2. Click on the + Page button. 
  3. Type the name of the page into the Topic Title.
    Note: students cannot change this title!
  4. In the Options area, choose Teachers and students to allow students to edit this page.
    Teachers & Students
  5. Click on the Save & Publish button.
  6. Repeat these steps for any other page that is part of the wiki activity.
  7. Add a link to the first page of the activity in the Modules area of the course, if desired.

Part 2: Students edit page, add links to other pages, etc

Student are directed to click the link for the first page of the wiki from the Modules area of the course or are directed to the Pages silo in the course menu to find the correct page.

Students click the Edit button on a page to begin editing. In addition to supplying the content for the page, students should be encouraged to use the Links tab to make links to other pages in the wiki activity:

  1. Type the name of the link (this is the text users will read and click on) and highlight it.
  2. Open the Links tab
  3. Open the Pages menu
  4. Click on a page name to complete the link.Create a page link

After completing the edits, click Save.  Note: students cannot change the title of a page.

Part 3: View the Page History

To check the contribution history of a single page:

  1. Click on the Options icon
  2. Select View Page History

Show page history

The content on this page has been adapted from content created by the Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology at Cal Poly SLO.