Journals are similar to a blog, but are a personal space for students to communicate privately with you. Students can also use journals as a self-reflective tool to post their opinions, ideas, and concerns about the course, or discuss and analyse course-related materials. You can create journal assignments that are broad and student-directed as your students reflect on the learning process and document changes in their perceptions and attitudes. Students can describe problems faced and how they solved them. You can also create instructor-directed journal entries that are more formal in nature and that narrow the focus by listing topics for discussion.

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How to use journals

Journals are ideal for individual projects. For example, in a creative writing module, the owner of each journal creates entries and an instructor comments. In this manner, a student can refine a section of a writing assignment over a period of time, using an instructor’s guidance and suggestions. Students can also comment on their own entries to continue the conversation.

You can choose to make journal entries public, allowing all module members to view all entries. For example, you may choose to make a journal public when asking for opinions on how to improve the evaluation process. Students can read what other students wrote and build upon those ideas.

When used in the group area, members of a group can view and comment on each other’s entries for the group journal. The group, as a whole, can communicate with you and all members benefit from the comments.

You can grade journal entries or use them solely for communication. In either instance, a student can make multiple entries for one journal topic.

Create a journal

You can create one or more journals for your students to use in your course. You must create journal topics before students can add their entries.

  1. Go to Control Panel > Module Tools > Journals and select Create Journal.
  2. Type a name and optional instructions. Make the journal available to students.
  3. Select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Display restrictions don’t affect the journal availability, only when it appears.
  4. In the Journal Settings section, select Monthly or Weekly Index Entries. If you want, you may select check boxes to allow users to edit and delete entries, or delete comments.
    • Optionally, select the check box to Permit module Users to View Journal. If selected, the journal becomes public. All users can view all journal entries made to the journal topic.
  5. In the Grade Settings section, select No grading or the Grade option and type the number of Points possible. Points possible will apply to one or more entries made by a user to the journal topic. After you enable grading, a column is created automatically in the Grade Center. The journal is permanently gradable, and you can’t change the setting to No grading.

More on grading journal entries

  1. If you want, select the check box for Show participants in needs grading status and select the number of entries required. If you apply this setting, the Needs Grading icon will show in the Grade Center. The entries will appear in the queue on the Needs Grading page after student activity meets this threshold.
  2. Add a rubric if you want.
  3. Select Submit.

You can also add links to journals in module areas, such as content areas and folders.

Journal topic page

Access the journal topic page in these ways:

  • In the Journals tool, open a journal and select a user from the All Module Members menu.
  • On the Needs Grading page, access a journal’s menu and select Grade All Users.
  • In the Grade Center, locate the column for the journal you want to grade. Hover over a cell with the needs grading icon to access the journal’s menu. Select Grade User Activity.

The journal topic page is divided into two main sections. In the content frame, you can view journal entries. In the sidebar, you can view information about the journal topic or entry, expand the Index, and grade the entry if the journal is gradable. You can select an individual user’s name to view the entries alone in the content frame.

If you don’t see the grading feature in the sidebar, your school hasn’t turned this feature on.

  1. In the sidebar, you can expand the Journal Details section to display information about the current selection, including the author and number of entries and comments. Select the right-pointing arrow to collapse the sidebar for more viewing room for entries. Select the four arrows to view the journal entries in full screen.
  2. Journal Instructions are expanded by default. You can minimize them. Select Alignments to add alignments.
  3. For All Course Members, select the down-pointing arrow to view a list and select a member. The selected member’s entries appear in the content frame. Use the left- and right-pointing arrows to navigate to the previous or next student. Select Show Empty Journals to see which students haven’t contributed.
  4. For graded journals, icons designate the status of a user’s activity. The Needs Grading icon indicates that a user has met the minimum activity for grading you set for the journal. The In Progress icon appears when a user has some activity but hasn’t yet met the minimum number required to trigger needs grading status.
  5. In the grading sidebar, provide a grade and feedback for the student.
  6. The Index displays the titles of the entries created by an author during the selected time period. Select the minus sign to collapse the title list.
Create journal entries

You and your students can create journal entries. You’re the only one who can comment on students’ private entries. You and group members can comment on group entries. On the Journals listing page, information is provided about each journal. Students can see if their entries are private—between the student and you—or public.

  1. On the Journals listing page, select a journal title.
  2. On the journal’s topic page, select Create Journal Entry.
  3. Type a title and entry.
  4. Select Browse My Computer to upload a file from your computer. You can also attach a file from the repository: Module Files or the Content Collection.-OR-Drag files from your computer to the “hot spot” in the Attach Files area. If your browser allows, you can also drag a folder of files. The files will upload individually. If the browser doesn’t allow you to submit your assignment after you upload a folder, select Do not attach in the folder’s row to remove it. You can drag the files individually and submit again.