[Discussions] Multiple Due Dates (checkpoints) for Discussions

With the way that many schools set up forum discussions and require "check-ins" to the forum throughout the week, it would be great if we could include multiple due dates in the discussion activities. For instance, I have classes that require everyone respond to the prompt by Thursday night and respond to at least 2 peers by the following Sunday. Being able to remind students that they have responses due, especially if we could scatter responses over multiple days, would likely increase participation.


<Sorry if this is a repeated idea. I couldn't find it elsewhere and I'm a newbie>

Community Participant

This has probably been stated somewhere here, there is a work around. I am sure it is out there in more detail too, but maybe this will help.

Step 1: Create your discussion board using the discussion assignment type. Create your rubric as you will be grading everything here.

Step 2: I add an  explanation of how to complete the Peer Participation part.

Part 2:

  1. Come back to this Discussion Forum or use the Reply Assignment Forum Link in the Introduction Replies Item back to this forum to reply to at least four (4) of your fellow classmate's initial postings with substantive responses by 11:59:00 PM AZ time on the due date indicated in the Syllabus and the Canvas Calendar. (4-points each=16-points)

  2. See grading rubric by clicking on the snowman (the three little vertical dots) in the upper

Step 3: Create an Assignment and add have it worth ZERO points, this is a place holder so the due date appears. I provide a picture of the Peer Participation part of the Discussion Evaluation which one finds in the Original Discussion Assignment and the following information with a hyperlink back to the Original Discussion'

Now let's respond to at least 4 of your fellow classmates' initial postings, with substantive responses by 11:59:00PM AZ time on the due date indicated in the Syllabus and the Canvas Calendar. ***Click Here to Reply in the Original Discussion Board***

Here is a Loom of it too in case it is easier to follow: Loom | Free Screen & Video Recording Software 

The other option is to use a third party application like Harmonize (I have previewed it, but there is no indication my Uni is going to purchase it. It does however, create multiple due dates and a PinInterest Look, which will be appealing to some learners.

I hope this helps, while Canvas figures things out.

Be safe and well,


Community Novice

Hi Brent --

Your idea to create a 0-point assignment would work. I just go to the calendar and add an event on the date the response postings or peer reviews are due. I write "Five Response Posts to Discussion Forum 5," for example. The calendar event shows up on the calendar and on the "to-do list." I've never had students express any concern about not knowing when the response posts are due. It seems like a no-brainer to me. It's very easy, and it works.

~ Joyce Twing, Vermont Technical College

Community Participant

Hi Joyce, that works too, I just find for duplicating using this method works best for me.


Community Champion

 @jwt01030 ‌ and  @brent_scholar ‌
Just a heads up:

Using a Calendar event or a Page with to-do date are not ideal because these dates don't show reliably on the mobile app. They're supposed to show on the calendar on mobile, but we had some students this spring term who don't see any dates on the mobile calendar, or they might see their graded assignment dates but not "to-do" dates like ungraded calendar events and to-do dates. 

As of April 21, 2020, here's what shows on the iOS mobile app when my CSM tested it:

  • Ungraded discussion with to-do date:
    • Calendar: yes
    • To-do List: yes
    • Discussions tab: No - the discussions area will only show the date the discussion was created/added.
    • Syllabus: No - Items added to To-Do will not show in the syllabus
  • Page with to-do date:
    • Calendar: yes
    • To-do List: no. Not showing in To-Do list is a known issue.
    • Syllabus: No - Items added to To-Do will not show in the syllabus
    • Pages tab: No - navigating to 'Pages' on the mobile app will only show the date the page was added/last updated. The to-do date will not show. 
  • Calendar event:
    • Calendar: - Yes
    • To-Do List: - No
    • Syllabus: - No

However, the Mobile Syllabus documentation does include an image with a calendar event, so I'm taking that to mean it's unstable or perhaps was very recently fixed. And although the CSM said all these things should appear on the Calendar, as I said, we had students say they couldn't see ungraded things on their mobile calendars. 

Long story short: use caution when using ungraded items to indicate due dates in Canvas because they don't reliably show on the Mobile App. In my experience, support doesn't always know what should and shouldn't appear on the Mobile App, so when students call in, they're not much help. I've heard that the entire mobile division was laid off a couple weeks ago, so I don't expect this problem to be addressed soon, other than whatever changes have been made since late April. My CSM did say they were working on it, so there might have been improvements since April.

Using an assignment worth 0 points may not work, either, if your school uses a dropout detective. My school doesn't so I'm not exactly sure how it works, but I don't like how cluttered all those assignments worth 0 points make the gradebook. It's confusing for me and for students, and it may also make students anxious to see all those ungraded columns of discussion replies. 

I agree there are workarounds, but none of them are perfect or would work as well as having multiple due dates on a discussion. 

Community Novice

Thanks Katie,

I initiated the first request for multiple due dates on Discussions over five years ago. So many votes for it. So much time and effort By educators discussing work arounds. The Canvas dev team has seen all this correspondence. Yet they choose to pursue other work. Confusing and frustrating.

All the best

Patrick Lindsay

Miami University


Community Explorer

Discussion boards have been  used for a long time. It is time for the educative value of the discussion board to be increased. Students with busy schedules need due dates for everything in order to effectively manage each item. If a discussion board calls for an initial post to answer a question or explore a topic and asks for proper discussion among students on that topic; we need the option of sets of due dates.


One due date is for the initial post. The due date serve as the expression of an opinion or knowledge. this cut off could provide a window in which responses to posts were locked out so that the discussion could take place in a second window of time:akin to the peer review window for other assignments. The closing of the first post window  could unlock the second window or a separate time and date could be set so that students could have ample time to answer the prompt and then ample time to review and comment upon peer posts.


I hope the value of these discreet windows is evident but if it is not allow me to offer a scenario or two:

  • Malique works two jobs and goes to school halftime. He needs to know when every element is due so that he can plan his week and set aside appropriate amounts of time to complete each activity. The due date says January 22nd at 11:59pm so he logs on at 9:00pm on the 22nd and posts. He then finds that many other posts are available to comment upon and chooses 2 to which he will respond. He has participated fully, but what benefit did his peers receive from his amazing post? When he checks back later and discovers no responses to his post does he feel validated or abandoned?
  • Suzanne is a traditional student who likes to get things done early. She logs on the day the discussion is released and makes her post. There is nobody else to respond to yet so she logs off and schedules the rest of her week. When Suzanne logs in on the due date just before the deadline because she got very busy with her 5 course load and she notices that her post has received 6 comments that are engaged with her not-quite-on track-answer, but as she scrolls down the list there are fewer and fewer.  she discovers through other posts that she misinterpreted the prompt so she says as much in the answers she deems to be better than hers.     The instructor later wonders if the responses to Suzanne's post might have been fewer if there were more choices available to comment on.
  • Dallas a non-traditional, newly-paralyzed student is taking a full course load and engages with the discussion prompt a few days after release. They discover that they are one of the few to make a post. There are 3 posts including theirs. they do the only thing they can can do, as they have allotted this Wednesday night for this task and have no other free time due to doctor's appointments, and other course work. They comment on the two available posts and complete their involvement with that discussion board.

The need for this feature is demonstrable. a due date for the initial post would gather all of the submissions and make them available for everyone to review at the same time because they understand how to work the deadlines. The input into the discussion board would theoretically be more distributed and the student generated discussion material would be more plentiful offering more opportunity for engagement in peer to peer discourse.


Harmonize is hosting a webinar tomorrow that demonstrates our integration, which includes the ability to set multiple due dates within the discussion board.  If you are interested in attending you can find the details here: https://hubs.ly/H0t1QvQ0   We hope you can join us!

Harmonize was created in response to educator and student feedback, the Harmonize platform seamlessly integrates with Canvas to create an engaging, collaborative community for dynamic academic discussion, creative and analytical thinking, and in-depth feedback that drives improved learning outcomes. To learn more visit harmonize.42lines.net

Community Explorer

Yes! This is such a pain... So many teachers want to have a first post due by a specific date and replies due by another later date. Grading gets confusing for the teacher and the student. Right now, I create a placeholder assignment to remind students to go back and reply after the first due date. 


When can I upvote this!? 😃

Community Member

I would also like to have this feature. I can't believe that it hasn't already been developed and implemented. I got excited thinking that it had been developed when I read this on the Chronicle of Higher Ed today: https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-secret-weapon-of-good-online-teaching-discussion-forums

I'm disappointed to learn that it hasn't been developed. When can I upvote this feature??? 🙂

Community Member

This would be so helpful!