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Canvas Collaboration Tools

Collected below are some resources created and gathered by the Center for Teaching and Learning regarding the use of Canvas' collaboration tools: Announcements, Discussions, Groups. Peer-Review, and Collaborations. If you have any questions about these, reach out to Blake via the information on the right.


Announcements are perhaps the easiest way to get students involved. This is because Announcements is the pipeline directly to the student's inbox to giving the information they need to know. For collaboration purposes, you can allow students to comment on your announcements so that they can respond both to you and "in front" of their fellow students with their questions or concerns.

For more information about Announcements, check out the Announcements Canvas Guides here.


Discussions are the place where most instructors will get students involved in an online or hybrid course. The premise is simple: Give students a prompt and they respond. Of course, there are complexities that make the execution different for everyone but the general purpose is the same: Getting students talking about the topic and engaging in the content. As with most of these collaboration tools, how much the student may benefit from using Discussions is dependent on instructors setting clear expectations for how it is used. For general advice, check out Canvas' Discussion Guides here.

Some of the past resources that the CTL created and collected include:

  • Cross-listed Discussions: How do you manage discussions if you have multiple sections of students within the same course?


Groups in Canvas are ways that you can organize short-term or long-term groups of students. There are two parts to a Group: It's Group Set and Groups.

The Group Set is a collection of groups. Within the Group Sets you can organize your actual Groups. For example, if you want students to work on a group project for the Mid-Term and Final, but you want them to be with different students. You will create a Midterm Group Set and a Final Group Set. In those Group Sets you create the smaller groups that you will split the class into. 

The really benefit of the Canvas Groups is with it's Group Homepage. When students are assigned to a Group, they have a Homepage created for them that they can mold into their own creation. On their end it works almost the same as the course page for the Instructor. They can create pages, upload files, set up Collaborations and participate in Group Discussion. Instructors also have rights to add content to the Group's home page as well.

For more information about Groups, check out Canvas' Group Guides here.

Peer-Review Assignments

Canvas has a tool within its Assignments and Discussions creation to allow for Instructors to require students review and comment on other students' submissions. This is good at getting students to look at the content through another's eyes and engage with the material on a different level. As with most of these collaboration tools, how much the student may benefit from Peer-Review is dependent on instructors setting clear expectations for how it is used.

Peer Reviews can be set up manually (where the instructor selects who will review each student's work) or automatically. For more information about this, see the sections regarding Peer Reviews at the bottom of the Canvas Assignments Guide and Canvas Discussions Guide


Collaborations are ways that students can work on documents with other students. Using either Office 365 (recommended since the students have Office 365 accounts with the University) or Google Docs. After being set up in Canvas, Instructors can share documents with Students and the students can collaborate on the documents within the Canvas course or Group pages. For more information, check out Canvas' Collaboration Guides here.

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