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Blogging and Canvas

The Good News & Bad News

The bad news is that Canvas does not include a dedicated blog tool of its own.
The good news is that Canvas is designed to be compatible with any 3rd-party blogging platform. This lets Canvas capitalize on the many great technologies available in consumer-level free blogs like Wordpress.com and Blogger.com as well as enterprise systems like CampusPack. This may present us with an opportunity to move our students and faculty towards mastering free Web 2.0 tools they can use after they graduate rather than depending on the university to provide an enterprise solution. Canvas has many tools to help you and your students integrate free blogs into the course space, and to expand your use of other free Web 2.0 tools.

Student Blogs

Student Blog Features

  • Allows students to make periodic updates on the same page, with the newest posts at the top
  • Blog preserves older material, enabling students to easily review their previous postings and reflect
  • Individual privacy sharing so students and faculty can choose who has access
  • Ability for students to comment back around individual blog posts

If you have been using CampusPack to enable students to maintain their own personal blogs, you might want to encourage students to start their own blog on a free platform like Wordpress.com or Blogger.com. [Learn more about free blogs]. They can post clinical journals, reading reflections, and portfolio postings to their own site and retain access to those materials even after they graduate.

You can set up Canvas Assignments to accept blog postings by the URL of the online assignment. Students can submit blog posts via URL and their work will be captured in the LMS at the time they submitted it. This prevents them from continuing to work on their assignment submission after the deadline. You will see a preview of the student's blog in your SpeedGrader view for that assignment so you can grade it without having to link out to the blog itself.

[Read More about Online Submission Types]

Student Blogs

Teaching with Free Student Blogs

Please note that free blog tools are public to the Internet, unlike CampusPack's. Many universities already use free public blogs to accept student work in compliance with student privacy laws like FERPA.
Some basic rules to remember when teaching with public student blogs is that

  • You can require students to make their work public, but they have the right to use a pseudonym to protect their privacy. They can still submit their work privately within Canvas, but the blog needs to be public so Canvas can ingest their work.
  • Your comments and evaluations cannot be made public-- only use the grading and commenting tools within Canvas for evaluating student work, as these comprise "student records".
  • Clearly communicate to students about confidentiality of what they post online-- especially as it relates to clinical reflections. Students often need to be reminded of the positive and negative consequences that can come with posting information publicly.

These resources can help you successfully implement free blogs in your Canvas course:
8 Tips for Blogging with Students
IU Teaching Handbook
FERPA and Social Media

Group Blogs

Group Blog Features

  • Allows students to make periodic updates on the same page, with the newest posts at the top
  • Blog preserves older material, enabling students to easily review their previous postings and reflect
  • Access to read and edit the blog is limited to group members and the instructor
  • Ability for students and faculty to comment back around individual blog posts

If you assign CampusPack blogs to facilitate discussion & collaboration among student groups, you might be interested in Canvas' Groups feature. Groups gives student groups a shared collaboration space with private wikis, discussion boards, file exchange, email discussions, and Collaborations like Google Docs and Etherpad. This way, students can post various types of content that's visible only to their group members and the instructor.

[Read More about Student Groups]