Canvas Tool: Collaborations using Etherpad
One of the tools in Canvas that you may want to try is the Collaborations tool -- you have two options with Google Docs and Etherpad.
If you choose Google Docs, you are assuming that all your students have a Google account -- that can be a tricky assumption.
If you choose Etherpad, you will not need to worry about students needing an additional account. Either tool allows you to select whether the entire class is going to work on the collaboration or only selected members (say, for a group project, for example).
Etherpad allows you to see who has written what (each name has a color associated with it -- and it also has a chat function. In addition, you can see different versions of it, using the time slider, and you can import and export from it.
One word of caution: Etherpad is, just like Google Docs, and external tool, run by a different company, and this company has the following deletion policy: