Collaborations in Canvas


By Tyler Isbell

Can you imagine an instructional strategy that can develop a student’s critical thinking skills, demonstrate problem solving techniques, and increase student engagement while also improving a student’s self-esteem?

These benefits, among many others, have surfaced in research on collaborative learning.  Collaborative learning is the “grouping and pairing of learners for the purpose of achieving a learning goal” (Laal & Ghodsi, 2012).  Thanks to the use of collaborative technologies integrated with the Canvas LMS, CBU faculty and students can reap these same benefits.

Canvas Collaborations involve the use of Office 365 (or Google Docs) to create a document that multiple users can edit in real-time.  This means that notes, agendas, slides, or assignments can be created, edited, and revised by a group of users who will see any changes made to the document almost immediately.

To get started, simply click ‘Collaborations’ located on the Course Navigation menu within the intended course.  Check out these Canvas guides for more information and detailed instructions: ‘What are Collaborations?’ and ‘How do I use the Collaborations Index Page?

It is important to remember that “all collaborative learning is done in a group, but not all group work is inherently collaborative” (Scheuermann, 2017).  Have high expectations that all group members will help and share within their group, and that all learners are accountable for everyone’s learning — Let your students know that they can’t simply “divide and conquer” the work!  Activities should be aligned to your learning outcomes and assess students individually while also requiring effort from all members of the group.


Laal, M., & Ghodsi, S. (2012). Benefits of collaborative learning. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences, 31, 486-490. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.12.091

Scheuermann, J. (2017). Group vs. Collaborative Learning: Knowing the Difference Makes a Difference. Best Of The 2017 Teaching Professor Conference, 11-13.

Smith, B.L., and J. MacGregor. (1992). Collaborative Learning: A Sourcebook for Higher Education. University Park, PA: National Center on Postsecondary Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (NCTLA). 9-22.

Tyler Isbell is an Instructional Designer & Trainer for OLET

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