Order Discussion Posts from Newest to Oldest

Currently, the discussion posts are ordered from oldest to newest.  A student/professor has to scroll or go to the last page and then scroll to get to the latest post.

 

Canvas REALLY needs to re-order this so that newest discussion posts appear at the top of the first page so that it is easy to find current conversations.

 

This topic had 100+ likes in the old community and I was really surprised not to see it on here already (I searched for this using several different search terms).   I sure hope we don't have to go through and re-idea every single feature request that had at least 30 likes and was years old with no action or response from Instructure.

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

For more information, please read through the  Canvas Release Notes (2021-06-19).

140 Comments
canvas_admin
Community Champion

I know this is archived but how discussions are handled is our BIGGEST issue in Canvas and I want to make sure it doesn't get forgotten.   Here's some recent student feedback we've received about Discussions in Canvas:

1. The one issue I had was navigating the discussion forums and finding threads in which I had previously participated. That felt clunky. 

2.  The link in notification email did not bring to my discussion, but to the beginning of thread which is hundreds of discussions.

3. Had some issues with editing in Forums. Pretty slow typing. Overall, Canvas is good, but it's one of the worst forum systems I've seen...very hard to locate specific conversations and see what has been updated.

4. It is a little difficult to navigate discussion forums. Scrolling to the bottom of the page to find next page button is an inconvenience 

5. The discussion start with the first at the top, not the most recent. To get to the most recent you have to go to the end.

6. The discussion pages should load the most recent comments on the first page. Instead, we have to scroll to the last pages for our latest comments. 

7. Navigating the discussion threads can be tough. Maybe some interface improvements on that?                                  

This is just a sampling, but you get the picture.   Our students don't like the current way discussions are handled, listed out, linked, etc., just as much as we do not like it. I included this because I'm not sure how much student feedback Instructure receives, especially in the community and perhaps having some actual student feedback will help reinforce what we (and others) have been saying about this particular issue.                                                                                                                                                                        

scottdennis
Instructure
Instructure

Thank you, Mark.

Our product team is currently completing long term planning for what will be developed in the next cycle.  To quote Peyton from yesterday, "Thanks for checking in. Enhancements to Announcements (including this one) are on the table for discussion at long-term planning, and that discussion has been rescheduled for mid-October. To give some more perspective, Announcements enhancements are second in communications priority to Inbox enhancements, and communications components (e.g., Inbox, Announcements, Discussions, Calendar, Chat, Conferences, etc.) are one group among several at the table for planning (other groups include Gradebook, Assessments, Admin, mobile apps, new projects, etc.), and each group has its own priority list. With long-term planning, we try to zoom out (i.e., remove each group's subjectivity) to make sure the right projects for our clients and our company are built at the right time. Lots to be done...stay tuned!"

hesspe
Community Champion

I'd like to add my voice to this request, on behalf of myself and at least one of our faculty members.

>> The current design, which sorts by oldest to newest post, was chosen for its consistency with traditional forum design

True, and when I'm in a board like that (including this one), I often wish I could flip it to see "newest first", to avoid lots of scrolling, especially if it's a very active board that I'm coming back to the board for the umpteenth time.

The beauty of software as opposed to hard copy is that you can customize to allow users to choose the format they prefer. 

Since Canvas doesn't have a blog tool,  we have a number of instructors who use Discussions as a quasi-blog, and ordering  posts newest to oldest, would, to paraphrase, provide "consistency with traditional blog  design."

One of our faculty members who does just that, has said that it would be much better for her class if she or students had that option, and I'm sure I'e heard the same request from others at our site.  That as well as the posts here indicate that it's something many would appreciate.

canvas_admin
Community Champion

I am an avid college football fan (ROLL TIDE) and I saw this at the bottom of an article I was reading yesterday.  I would love if the implementation could look something like this so that it would be easy to switch back and forth between newest & oldest forum posts!2015-11-19 04.31.25 pm.png

scottdennis
Instructure
Instructure

I can see how valuable that could be, especially when you are trying to re-familiarize yourself with an ongoing conversation, maybe right before assigning final grades or deciding on a participation related grade.

canvas_admin
Community Champion

Additionally, we're on rolling enrollment.   Even with just 2 years under our Canvas belt, some of our discussion forums have 2000+ posts.  A student entering the course today does not want to engage with a student who took the course 2 years ago, but rather somebody who is taking it now which ostensibly would be the more recent posts which currently are on the VERY last page (8-10 pages).

As an aside, we're going to have to "refresh" our courses every 2-3 years so that our discussions can start over since they accumulate so many posts so quickly.

weckerlec
Community Novice

Understanding that this request has been archived and is a part of the long-term planning process, I too would like to add support for this request.

esommer
Community Novice

I really hope this option shows up soon. Since I first used Canvas I was dismayed that I could not sort Discussion POSTS newest to oldest. Especially as an instructor. I often want my post on top so a student can see it right away, particularly if I am speaking to an issue that all students need to address or understand as the discussion progresses.

bbruya
Community Novice

I'm on board with this idea, too.  I had the same idea and came to post it but searched for it first and found this discussion. 

I also agree with some other complaints about the difficulty in following specific threads in discussions.  To me, the layout is not well done.  Notice the difference with this web page, where there are attractive call-out boxes, neatly nested to show replies to replies.  On the Canvas site, replies are indented but the boxes are not, requiring a high level of attention to follow a thread. 

I noticed that the developers say they are rethinking the whole layout, so I thought this comment would still be relevant to this topic.

jeffrey_weimer
Community Contributor

The way that discussion threads are treated as "first read everything that has been posted before" type of blogs is frustratingly unproductive as a way to get  the most relevant information out in a course. I end up just creating one discussion thread per new topic to get the news out fast. So, instead of having Homework as a Discussion topic with the most recent news at the top, I might have Homework 1 Administration, Homework 1 Content, Homework 2 Administration, Homework 2 Content ...

Replies to discussions also get hidden in the middle ... There is no way to "jump to or view only unread comments".

The developers could take a good lesson from how Discourse generates their Forums. Clean, readable, and structurally well-designed. IMHO, the developers should just outsource Canvas Discussions to Discourse. Why keep reinventing or mucking about on their own wheel (in a horrible way at that) when a better one already exists?