[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

An instructor's just asked us about this as well, and others have expressed the need for more granular settings for Discussions.

From instructor: "Is there a way to allow students to post only replies (but no new posts) after a certain deadline, on the discussion forums?"

Coach Emeritus

I agree, Kona, but I would love the ability to post two due dates.

Unfortunately, students live by the dashboard, rather than the materials posted in class, and for whatever reasons Instructure insists on providing direct-linked assignment lists on the dashboard to promote this ineffective learning behavior.

  • I create a class schedule that shows the two due dates,
  • I include that schedule in the syllabus (Yeah, right. Like students read a syllabus.)
  • I create events on the calendar for the extra due dates,
  • I post announcements on the Home page reminding students of the extra due date,
  • I include a mini-schedule for each module showing the extra due date - in large bold red font!
  • I include the extra due date in my Discussion instructions;
  • and I receive complaints from my students that they didn't know because it wasn't in that dang To Do list on the dang Dashboard!:smileyconfused:

Yes, the top 20% of my students get it. But those students would succeed in the worst designed course taught by the worst instructor on Earth. What we need are good tools and a good design structure to help the bottom 20% succeed. In a traditional classroom, this is easier - you stand in front of them and repeat as often as necessary "get your initial topic reply done today!" You make eye contact and glare at them until you get their attention, and repeat it again. In the online classroom, we are dependent on the tools provided by the LMS and our due diligence in using those tools.

Now I will hop down off my soapbox, and get back to work. I'm too old for soapboxes - I could break a hip!

Community Champion

I agree, Kelley.

My solution is to get discussion replies into the dashboard by using an assignment with no grade and no submission. This shows up in the to-do list and the calendar without an additional grade book column.

In the instructions, I link back to the discussion. Like this:

Go to "Discussion: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" and complete part B of the discussion by replying to another student. Posting this reply is part of the grade for the discussion.

The downside is that there is a tedious first time setup. Also, students complain that the reply does not disappear off of the to-do list when they post the reply. Although, it does come off the to do list after the due time for the reply passes.

It could be smoother for sure, and, hopefully, Instructure will make it more granular and user friendly in the future.

Coach Emeritus

Okay, back on my soapbox for a moment, but if I break a hip it's your fault  @dhulsey ​:smileysilly:

I love the community, and I love that Instructure encourages feature requests, but I note that for every request for a feature that supports student learning there are at least 100 for improving instructor workflow; or worse, to accommodate a single instructor's workflow preferences.

I would love to see Instructure prioritize feature requests as follows:

  1. Student learning
  2. Faculty workflow
  3. Admin workflow
  4. Nifty fun stuff

Now I will carefully hobble off this old box, and take off my curmudgeon hat for awhile.

Community Champion

That is well put, Kelley.

Community Novice

Great workaround! thanks for sharing.

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

We’ve heard similar requests to enable checkpoints on written assignment submissions (e.g., turn in first draft on date x, second draft on date y, and final submission on date z). In short, it’s not a simple problem to tackle, and there’s no precedent for it within Canvas, so it’s going to take a little bit of time just to nail down the requirements and eliminate as many “gotchas” as possible.

This is what I’m hearing:

  • Must allow Graded Discussions to have multiple checkpoints
  • Graded Discussions with multiple checkpoints must still appear as single assignments in Gradebook
  • Each checkpoint for a single assignment must appear in To-Do
  • Partial credit for an assignment (in the case of a missed checkpoint) must be possible
  • Should be able to “lockdown” a piece of a discussion after a checkpoint is passed (e.g., no one can create a new post after date x; they can only reply to other posts until date y).

Does that sound about right?

Coach Emeritus

Yep, Peyton, that pretty much covers it for me.

Community Champion

Yes - these features would be a HUGE  improvement! Thanks for listening.

Community Champion

That sounds good, Peyton. I would add that each checkpoint should appear in the calendar, and some consideration should be given on how to represent the multiple checkpoint dates on the modules page.