[Discussions] Allow instructor to block/moderate student from discussion board

I have an instructor who says a student is repeatedly posting inappropriate content in a Discussion Board, even after the instructor has given guidance as to appropriate posting.  Currently, the only way to control this is for the instructor to go in and delete the offending messages, but by that time, the rest of the students may have seen it.

There should be a way for an instructor to set the discussion so that it must be moderated (posts don't appear to the students until the Teacher/TA has approved them) or that a particular student can be blocked from the discussion. 

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Thank you for submitting this idea,  @jolaine . Various iterations of this idea have been considered by the Community numerous times--and you'll want to search https://community.canvaslms.com/groups/cold-storage?sr=search&searchId=12286d5d-a1d2-44dd-953d-dada0...‌ to see them and benefit from the commentary surrounding them--but have not yet garnered sufficient support to move forward. As time passes, priorities change, so perhaps this time around the idea will amass more support than it has in the past.

Community Champion

This would be very helpful in my context. We're an online public school within a "regular" school district, and one of the several populations we serve are students in "behavior" SpEd classrooms who struggle with appropriate behavior but who are capable of grade-level (or higher!) academic work rather than modified SpEd courses offered at a lower academic level. (They may take one or more online academic courses through us while physically attending a resource/behavior/social skills "class" in their home school building, either all day or for part of their schedule.)

Some of these students will also struggle to make appropriate behavioral choices online, and having ways to restrict their interactions with other students can be needed if they consistently make poor choices. As a teacher, I will continue to interact with a student who makes rude personal comments instead of participating with the discussion topic to help them make better choices and express their ideas about a topic (particularly if they have a related disability and we have an overall behavior plan in place with their IEP team where this is being worked on), but my students are not paid to put up with that as I am and shouldn't have to deal with personal attacks in discussion posts. 

I suppose at this point I'd use the work-around of making all future class discussions "group discussions" and putting any student who could not handle discussion expectations in their own one-person "group" where they could just discuss the topic with me rather than with their peers, but more robust moderation tools would give me a better set of options. It would also give me a way to reward them for making good choices by letting their appropriate, on-topic posts through so they could be recognized by the rest of the class as they make appropriate choices. This would be particularly helpful for students with impulse control issues who are trying to participate appropriately but sometimes struggle.

Community Novice

That's a sound idea. Any disciplinary action deemed necessary based on what was posted should also be implemented, but that's just my view on this subject.

Community Member

I'm constantly amazed at some of the basic items that canvas does not have.  So many forums on the internet require or allow moderation for a very good reason.  Canvas- not.

Community Novice

This also happens with compromised accounts too; especially when users (faculty/students/advisers) fail to log off of their accounts/sessions properly and/or treat publicly shared equipment as it were personal property.


Community Participant

We've had Canvas in our school district since 2014, and every year I get asked by multiple teachers if there's a way to do this. It's definitely a needed feature at the K-12 level, as students are learning to communicate in a more formal, objective, academic 'voice' with their peers.

Our K-12 students struggle with establishing a positive tone in their online interactions, especially in the current adult cultural climate of online name-calling and trolling. Our teachers actively instruct, model, and remind - but some students need more direct feedback and instruction than this.

Teachers must also work with parental sensitivities to perceived bullying that has sometimes spilled over into Canvas Discussions. I've had some teachers abandon trying to use Discussions because there is no way to catch inappropriate or unkind comments before they're visible to all the students.

I'm absolutely sure I would get more teacher buy-in for using the Discussions tool if we had this ability.

Community Participant

What about the student whose comments are generally appropriate, but who makes a single or occasional inappropriate remark? In cases like that, the student needs supervision and guidance, not a complete ban from the discussion.

With that in mind, how about these four options for managing student discussion posts:

  1. All unmoderated
  2. All moderated
  3. Instructor selects individuals whose posts are moderated, all others unmoderated
  4. Instructor selects individuals who are blocked from posting

I didn't see the third option discussed here, so I thought it was worth suggesting.

Community Novice

Hold on a moment, please...  This sounds like more unnecessary work for our instructors which will take time away from their other duties like grading our work and responding to our pleas for help through email. 

Wouldn't it be better to have the posts run through a simple word filter to check for offensive material instead??

Additionally, enforcing a stricter policy on this behavior would most likely solve the problem.  If you send inappropriate emails to people when working for a business you might* get a single warning, but it will most likely end up with you getting fired. 

I think Word Filter + 1 warning = win.   2nd offense, you fail the class period. 

The plan currently allows a student to get away with this once before even being put on the moderated list. To me, this doesn't seem like the best course of action. 


Nicholas Scocchera (Computer Science)

Community Participant

I think the proposed solution gives instructors and schools flexibility to enact policies and make judgements that best serve their students. Certainly, a "one warning and blocked on the second offense" policy may be necessary and effective for some populations. However, I don't have much confidence in word filters; they are too easily defeated by alternate spellings, alternate uses, substituting typographical characters, etc. Plus, legitimate comments in a discussion on anatomy, modern literature, health, etc. may get flagged. Will instructors need to fine-tune the word filter in those instances and, if so, how is that less work? I think classroom management and the judgement of instructors will remain a necessity in online education.

Coach Emeritus

Hi  @nixwhat ‌

I teach medical courses, and could see some huge potential problems with word filters - too many body parts, and topics about those body parts.