The table below suggests the best tools to use in Canvas to complete a variety of writing activities. The information on this page is being continually updated. If you have suggestions for activities to add to the table, email

To Do That with Canvas
Use This
Here’s How
Update students on course information, due dates, assignments, reminders and so forth.

Announcements function as those tips and reminders that you begin and end classes with in the campus classroom. Include all the details that you want students to know. Use direct language that makes the student to-do’s clear.

Documentation: What are Announcements?

Tip: Have students check Course Notifications to ensure that they will receive details in a timely manner.

Brainstorm synchronously as a class or in a group
Chat, OR
Collaborations + Google Doc

Either of these tools will allow students to all brainstorm on a specific topic at the same time. Think of it as the online equivalent to students shouting out ideas in the campus classroom as you write them on the board.



  • Chat is only available to the entire course. Canvas does not have a feature that allows students to Chat in small groups. On the other hand, small groups can work together in Collaborations.
  • Canvas Chat does not save a transcript; however, you can copy the discussion in Chat and paste it into a word processor document.
Brainstorm asynchronously as a class or in a group

Discussions work like a forum or email conversation, so students can post as their schedules allow.


Tip: If you want students to build on the ideas of one another, try using two due dates: one for the first message that they post, and another for follow-ups. Otherwise students may wait until the last minute, allowing limited options for collaborating.

Brainstorm individually
Assignments, OR

If you want to grade or review students’ brainstorming, either of these tools allow students to respond and submit their work.


Tip: Use Assignments for situations where you want students to work in their word processors. In Quizzes, choose an Essay Quiz question, which will allow students to answer in Canvas.

Assign a series of writing prompts, like a worksheet or audience profile
Quizzes, OR
New Quizzes

A quiz is the best solution in Canvas for asking a series of questions, whether students are gathering ideas about a writing topic, analyzing a reading, or completing another question-based activity.


Tip: New Quizzes is an updated tool for creating and assigning quizzes in Canvas. Either Quizzes or New Quizzes will work for a series of writing questions. Use whichever tool you prefer.

Last updated September 17, 2020.