How to: Set up reflective journals in Canvas

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What are reflective journals?

A reflective journal is a learning activity that asks students to engage deeply with the course content by reflecting on its relevance to their own life or learning experience. Reflective journals can be kept as a continuous diary, often useful in WIL and other work placement situations, or at any other time that suits the learning experience. For example, a reflective journal entry at significant deliverable points in a project can help students gain a deeper understanding of the project and the process, and can influence the subsequent direction of the project. Reflective journals can be used simply for student’s own learning journey, or as an assessable piece of work.

How do I set up a reflective journal activity?

Unlike Blackboard, Canvas does not have a dedicated journal tool, but it is possible to create such functionality using a combination of groups and discussion forums.

First, you must create a group for each student in a group set.

Creating the group set and groups:

  1. Click People on the course menu.
  2. Click Add Group Set.
  3. Enter the name for the Group Set, e.g. reflective journals
  4. Select the Split students into  groups option and set the number to be equal to the number of students enrolled in your course.
  5. Click Save

Once that is done, create a group discussion forum and assign it to the group set you’ve just created.

Creating the discussion forum:

  1. Click Discussions on the course menu
  2. Click the red +Discussion button
  3. Give the discussion a topic title and enter your instructions or message in the text editor.
  4. If you wish to make this a graded journal activity, select the Graded checkbox in the Options list.
  5. Select the This is a Group Discussion checkbox
  6. Select the correct Group set from the dropdown menu.
  7. Click Save

Each student will now have access to a discussion forum that acts as their own private journal. They cannot see anyone else’s journal. To access their journal they should go to the Discussions button in the course menu. alternatively, you can create a link to the Discussion journal discussion tool from anywhere in your site by selecting the journal from the discussions section in the link selector.

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2 years ago

Thanks for this. I have been looking for a way to replicate the Blackboard journal function in Canvas. Another possible solution I came up with was creating a type of quiz called a survey. In this I would create “questions” which would actually be prompts such as “week 1 journal entry” with an empty field for the student to write into. Can anyone see any pros and cons for this? Will the Group set/Discussion solution be better?

Thuy Nguyen
Thuy Nguyen
2 years ago
Reply to  Emma

Hi Nat and Emma,

I’m Thuy, a learning designer from Keypath Education working with RMIT academics to create online courses, including courses from your college. I’ve been looking for an e-portfolio tool in Canvas and found this through the RMIT Online staff.

I love both of your solutions, and would be really keen to know the answers to the points that Emma raised above. Nat, would you be able to help us with that?

Thanks much.