[Discussions] Allow teachers to subscribe to a group discussion

Our faculty would like to be able to subscribe to the group discussions in their course so they can follow along, be alerted when a student posts something new, post feedback, and keep discussions on track.


(This was originally submitted by Brandon Pousley, but did not receive enough votes to move forward.  I was hoping this time it would get more votes.)

Added to Theme

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni


Thank you for your Feature Idea​ submission! As you noted, this same idea was submitted previously, here: , in a different voting period.  It may contain valuable discussion and insight as this discussion moves through the voting process.

We also encourage you to check out this article that can help you maximize the exposure and support of your Feature Idea: How do I write a good feature idea submission

Community Team
Community Team

This idea has moved to the next stage and will be open for voting among the Canvas Community, from Wed. February 3, 2016 - Wed. May 4, 2016.

Check out this doc for additional details about how the voting process works!

Community Novice

It would be extremely helpful for faculty to be able to subscribe to ungraded discussion groups.  In our course, we use separate discussions for each module within the course, and while each student must submit a graded presentation in one module or another, it clutters the gradebook to make each of these discussions graded.  However, we instructors desperately need notifications when new posts are made, so we can tell if a student has put a proverbial bullet in the furnace or is way off course in the content they are synthesizing for other students' learning.  Thanks for considering this issue and voting yes.

Community Champion

I agree this is a great idea!  I have experienced trouble with instructors and group discussions, so anything to help keep things afloat would be excellent! 

Community Novice

Yes!  Instructors need to be able to easily join their students in group discussions, just as they do in a face-to-face setting.  We desperately need this feature.

Community Team
Community Team

It is interesting to me how things evolve.  If I understand correctly groups were originally designed to be a space where students could go off on their own and work and then come back into the course space to interact with their instructor and other students - like going off to the corner of the classroom for group work. It sounds like, as is often the case, people are using the toolset in ways that the original designers never imagined.

Community Novice

Admittedly,  @scottdennis  yes, but that is because we came from Angel where we could set up Teams, and cannot find an equivalent to it in Canvas.  If Canvas could do something more like Angel Teams, we'd be all over that like flies on honey!  But meanwhile, we are using Groups as best we can...

Community Novice

And, in K12, we have a greater responsibility for supporting students. While we love for them to collaborate, this is needed.

Coach Emeritus

 @Laura_Orsetti ​, Groups is the Canvas take on Angel teams, and while a good tool it can be improved to be a great tool. As  @scottdennis ​ pointed out, this idea and functionality is evolving, just as elearning in general is evolving to become even more a collaborate learning environment in emulation of and improvement on the traditional classroom environment.

As LisaCasto​ pointed out, in the K-12 environment students need support; but I would like to add that this is also true in the Higher-Ed environment - learners are learners!

I will support this feature request which seems to be gaining better traction in its second iteration!

Agent K

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Hi Everyone,

LOVE this idea! As I think about the problem you're trying to solve here, it's analogous to walking the classroom and listening to different group conversations to find out what stage of a problem they are working on, address any questions they might have, or intervene with additional support or clarification. I can even imagine taking this one step further and allowing a teacher to subscribe to ALL of the activity in a Canvas Group.

Enhancements to Groups are not a high priority for the next six months, so I will recommend that we archive this idea for now. That said, I would still love to learn more from the voters on this thread.

  • What would instructors "listen" for if they could subscribe to Group discussions?
  • Would they subscribe to specific discussions, graded discussions only?
  • Would you ever want to subscribe to ALL of the activity in group?

Thanks for your feedback, all!