About journals

Journals are personal spaces for students to communicate privately with you. Students can also use journals as a self-reflective tool. They can post their opinions, ideas, and concerns about the course, or discuss and analyze course-related materials.

You can create journal assignments that are broad and student-directed. Students can reflect on the learning process and document changes in their perceptions and attitudes. Students can describe the problems faced and how they solved them. You can also create instructor-directed journal entries that are more formal in nature. You can narrow the focus with a list of topics for discussion.

Use journals for individual projects

Journals are ideal for individual projects. For example, in a creative writing course, each student creates entries and you provide comments. In this manner, a student can refine a section of a writing assignment over a period of time, with your guidance and suggestions. Students can also comment on their own entries to continue the conversation.


Create a journal

On the Course Content page, select the plus sign wherever you want to add a journal. Select Create > Participation and Engagement > Journal. You can also expand or create a folder or learning module and add a journal.

Type a meaningful title to help students find the right journal in the content list. If you don't add a title, "New Journal" and the date appear on the Course Content page.

  1. Add a prompt to set expectations and guidelines. You can use the options in the editor to format text, attach files, and embed multimedia. If you don’t add a prompt, students see a message that you haven’t added instructions for this journal.

    To use your keyboard to jump to the editor toolbar, press ALT + F10. On a Mac, press Fn + ALT + F10. Use the arrow keys to select an option, such as a numbered list.

  2. Show or hide the journal. New journals are hidden by default. Students can't see a journal until you choose to show it. You can create all your content ahead of time and choose what you want students to see based on your schedule. You can also set availability conditions based on date, time, and performance on other items in the course gradebook. On the Course Content page, students can see when you set the journal to show.
  3. Grade a journal's contributions. To motivate students to post insightful contributions, you can make a journal count for a grade. Select the gear icon to open the Journal Settings panel. When you choose to grade a journal, more options appear such as the due date and maximum points. The maximum points apply to one or more entries made by a student. You can also use Ultra's grading tools, like feedback and rubrics, to grade journals. 

    We recommend that you use Ultra journals as you build new courses, but our guidance is to limit teaching and grading usage until additional improvements are completed.

    More on enabling journal grading

Video: Create a Journal


Watch a video about creating journals

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.


Video: Create a Journal shows how to create student journals.


Open a journal

When someone contributes to a journal, an activity icon appears next to the title on the Course Content page. Select the title to open the journal in a new layer. You can also open a journal from the activity stream.


View and comment on entries

You and your students can use journals for essential interaction, especially in a web-based course. Student entries and your comments can help build rapport and create a healthy intellectual exchange. After you comment, a student can make comments to continue the conversation. You can also start a new thought with a new entry in a student's journal.

Participants view

On the journal page, students appear in alphabetical order in the Participants view. The participant view supports over 1,000 students at once. You can see when students post new journals and comments, and can view a single submission in the submission view. If you have teaching assistants and graders, their names appear first. Disabled and unavailable users don't appear in the list.

Want to know how many times a student participated in a specific journal? Select a name to view only that student's entries.

Enhancements for the Participants list are in progress at this time.

Entries and comments

After your prompt, the student's name, number of entries, and entries appear. Any entries you add are also added to the count.

Select the Comment link below an entry to add your feedback.

You and the student can add unlimited entries and comments. You can use the options in the editor to format text, attach files, and embed multimedia. The word count appears below the text box just as it does for students.

Open an entry or comment's menu to access the Edit and Delete functions. If anyone deletes an entry, all comments about the entry are also deleted.

The number of comments appears in a link below each entry. A "New" label appears with a count of new comments. Select the Show Comments link to open the comments section. Select the Hide Comments link to collapse the comments section.

Select another student in the Participants view to view entries and add comments.

If you want to grade the contributions, visit the basic journal grading workflow topic.


Edit and manage journals

At this time, if you edit any content in the journal, students aren't notified that new content appears.

You can change a journal from graded to ungraded as long as there are no entries or comments. Once entries and comments have been submitted, you can't change the journal type.

If you delete a graded journal, the journal is removed from the Course Content page and the gradebook.


Journals conversion and copy

Original Course View journals, prompts, and settings are included in course archives and exports and are converted in the Ultra Course View. Only journals from content areas in Original courses appear in Ultra courses on the Course Content page. At this time, comments and student entries aren’t included when you restore an archive.

The conversion and grading workflows for journals will have additional improvements in the future.

You can also convert journals from an Original course to an Ultra course as part of the Ultra Course Preview.

Copy workflow

Ultra journals are included in the supported content items you can copy from other Ultra courses you teach.

At this time, if you copy only journals from an Original course to an Ultra course, the graded journals only appear in the gradebook, but you can't edit the content or show them to students. Ungraded journals aren't copied. We recommend a course export or archive to convert the journals that appear in Original's content areas to Ultra.