What is the difference between threaded and focused discussions?

Document created by Canvas Doc Team Employee on Apr 14, 2015Last modified by Canvas Doc Team Employee on Feb 18, 2017
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As an instructor, when you create a discussion in Canvas, you can choose to create a focused or threaded discussion. Focused discussions are relatively short-lived interactions, while threaded discussions allow replies within replies and may last for a longer period of time.


If you allow permission for students to create discussions, students can also create focused and threaded discussions.


View Focused Discussion

View Focused Discussion

Focused Discussions are relatively short-lived interactions that tend to "disappear" as the course progresses, such as a weekly forum for questions related to that week's activities.


Use a Focused Discussion for single posts and related comments. One discussion leader typically posts a message and multiple learners comment on it. Participants may leave a side comment to a reply, but cannot develop the conversation beyond two layers of nesting.


Focused Discussions might also be used to:


  • answer a single question
  • share resources amongst peers
  • collect results from a simple research activity
  • share solutions to a single problem
  • correct misconceptions
  • clarify course policies
  • get feedback on a work in progress
  • share insights about a single reading

View Threaded Discussions

View Threaded Discussions

Threaded Discussions lend themselves to the refining of complex ideas. Responses and different lines of inquiry that can be quickly navigated due to its hierarchical structure. Threaded Discussions may be long-standing spaces for thoughts that persist throughout an entire course.


Use a Threaded Discussion for multiple posts and related comments. One or more discussion leaders post a message and multiple learners comment on it with the freedom to create any number of related discussion topics and comments (infinite layers of nesting).


Threaded Discussions might also be used to:


  • post and answer multiple related or unrelated questions
  • organize results from a complex research activity
  • share and iterate upon ideas shared by each student in the course
  • debate the pros and cons of a single issue or multiple issues
  • ask multiple questions of a single discussion leader
  • refine ideas between multiple discussion leaders and multiple learners
  • facilitate group discussions around multiple topics
  • facilitate discussions around a discussion (fishbowl conversations)
  • explore at length the feasibility of different solutions to a complex problem
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