The Collaborations feature in Canvas gives students the opportunity to collaborate with each other on a written document. Students have the option of using Etherpad or Google Docs to use through Canvas.
Instructors may wish to use collaborations to:
- Allow group work within an online or hybrid course. This could include papers, notes, or simply messaging. Although class times may be limited, the students can meet online and collaborate at any time between classes.
- Allow students to peer edit others' essay drafts.
- Collaboratively reflect on group or individual performance. Students and instructors may benefit from being able to interact and voice their opinions in real time.
- Collaborate with other instructors on pedagogical or research documentation.
- Have students set up a key and write in different colors while collaborating on a document. This way, collaborators will know who is writing what.
- Both types of collaborations save automatically every few minutes, so don't worry about manually saving.
- Collaborators should be respectful of others' content. Set ground rules for the collaboration documents (likely different based on assignment). For example, users should not delete content that is not their own unless they have been asked to edit.
- When more than one person is working on a section of the page at once, document collaboration can get a bit messy. Because the collaboration is in real time, the paragraphs will move with the new content being added. It's best to let others finish their thoughts on a document before adding one's own.
Collaborations with Google Docs
Google Docs allows users to share and edit documents (text, presentation, spreadsheet, form, drawing, table) amongst themselves. Please note that to use Google Docs, all collaborators must have a Google account, even while using it through Canvas. To set up a Google Docs collaboration, click on the Collaborations tab from the course menu.
From the collaborations page, click the button that reads Start a New Collaboration.
Your new collaboration will appear at the bottom of the page, below any existing collaborations. Choose Google Docs from the drop-down menu to use it.
If your Google account isn't already linked to Canvas, you will need to authorize your account for use with Google Docs. To do this, click the Authorize Google Docs Access button.
You will be temporarily redirected to a Google page asking your permission to allow Instructure access to your Google Docs account. Click the Grant Access button to continue.
After you have been redirected back to the collaborations page, you can now create your new Google Doc! Fill out a name and description for your document. Then, select users you would like to include in the collaboration by left-clicking on their names or groups. Make sure all collaborators appear in the box to the right and click Start Collaborating.
Your new Google Docs collaboration will show up under Current Collaborations on your main collaborations page. To open and edit it, click the name of the document.
Collaborations with EtherPad
EtherPad is an open-source web service that allows for real-time document collaboration. The service is similar to Google Docs, but is only for text documents and does not require an account.
Please note that upon testing EtherPad, it has been quite buggy and has disconnected users from the document quite often. Before you rely on EtherPad to collaborate, make sure the system works for you and all members of your collaboration team.
To set up an Etherpad collaboration, first click on the Collaborations tab from the course menu.
From the collaborations page, click the button reading Start a New Collaboration. Choose Etherpad from the drop-down menu on the page. The new collaboration will appear at the bottom of the page, under any existing collaborations. Fill out a name and description for your document. Then, select users you would like to include in the collaboration by left-clicking on their names or groups. Make sure all collaborators appear in the box to the right and click Start Collaborating.
The new EtherPad collaboration will appear under Current Collaborations on your main collaborations page. To open and edit it, click the name of the document.