Canvas Resources

Canvas Collaborations

NOTE: This video uses Google docs as an example. Since CSB and SJU uses Microsoft Office 365, we recommend instructors and students use Office 365 and OneDrive.

Canvas Collaborations allows students to work together on a single Office 365 (Word, Excel, or PowerPoint) item that is easily accessed from within your course site. Collaboration items can be shared and edited in real-time by multiple users and saved to multiple devices.

Multiple users work together on the same document at the same time. Collaborative documents are saved in real-time, meaning a change made by any of its users will be immediately visible to everyone.

Why Use Collaborations?

Simple and easy:

Minimal setup required, and this tool allows students to collaborate with one another on a group project without them needing to exchange email addresses.


As the instructor, you can view students' collaborative documents at any time.

Sharing flexibility:

You can select students one at a time or share a Collaboration with an existing student group in your course site.

When Would I Use Collaborations?

  • Copy and paste notes that everyone can access.
  • Share bullet-point lists or agendas for upcoming synchronous class or group time or meetings.
  • Create a text-based whiteboard that everyone in the classroom can see and refer to later.
  • Assign student groups a collaborative assignment as a graded assignment (instructor feature).

Collaborations Recommendations

The user who originally created a collaboration item can delete it both within Canvas and within Office 365. For this reason, we strongly recommend that only instructors create collaborations. This way, it is extremely difficult for a student to accidentally delete a collaboration item.

We recommend that you use Office 365 rather than Google drive collaborations. Because Collaborations are using external applications, the settings in Google and Office 365 need to be kept in mind. A student may accidentally remove their access to a Google drive collaboration item if they remove it from within their Google drive account. This is more difficult to do in the Office 365 interface.

College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Joshua Akkerman
Instructional Technology Specialist

Ethan Wittrock
Instructional Technology Specialist

Cathy Robak
Instructional Technology Specialist

Adam Konczewski
Instructional Technology Specialist