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Denoting read vs unread posts in classroom discussion

In coursework where you are required to write a reflection and post that reflection on and then reply to people's comments on your post as well as reply to other people's post, is there a way of removing/eliminating/denoting which  posts/comments you have already replied to? In a class of 60 people, if each person must post a reflection and then we are required to comment on all 60 reflections plus people's comments on our reflection, it is hard to keep track of what one has already read and what one has already commented on. It would be great if there was a way to denote the ones that haven't been read yet, maybe have them be highlighted or bolder (like office email) as opposed to the ones that have been read which are lighter in shade or not highlighted. If this is already doable, can someone point me in the right direction because I have not been able to find this feature.

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Community Coach
Community Coach

Good evening,  @ob8921  Welcome to the Canvas Community.  Thanks for posting your question.  I'm not sure if you are an instructor or a student, but I will provide you will some Guides for each role that I think will help to answer your question:

Please sing out if you have any questions about this information...thanks!

Community Champion


I visited MCLA last year, staying at the Porches Inn and visiting the MoCA while in town.

What you describe sounds crazy enough to make me wonder if you're reading the directions correctly or are just exaggerating in an attempt to demonstrate the insanity of the situation. I'm leaning towards the second case.

Assuming that there are 60 students and all post, then you are expected to make:

  • 1 initial post
  • 59 responses to other people's initial posts
  • 59 responses to people's responses to your initial post.

That's 119 posts for you. There are 60 students doing this, so there are 7140 posts expected for this one discussion.

It's also insane to expect that you reply to every student because there will be some students that reply at the last minute and if you have to reply to them, it becomes a situation where everyone has to be in the discussion at the last minute.

Many faculty require you to post to a few other students, but not all of them when there are 60 students.

I can't say for sure what your instructor asked you to do, but you might want to re-read the directions to make sure.

To summarize the documents that  @chofer  provided, if you're using a web browser, then posts are automatically marked as read when they appear on the screen for a short time. If you scroll through, they are assumed read. However, if you click on the dot, you can mark it as unread.

There are two ways I can think of to handle this.

The way it's designed is that new messages will show up as unread and there's a filter at the top to only show the unread messages. In your situation, that becomes problematic because it doesn't put it in context so you're going to get unread messages for all of the secondary replies except for your own. That's not just the 59 other initial posts, but the 59 other replies to each of the 60 initial posts and all of the replies to the replies.

That is about as crazy as the notion that the discussion should have 7140 posts in it.

The other way to do it is to treat the read/unread marker as a negative indicator that you have replied. An unread blue dots means that it has been replied to while the missing blue dot means that it has been read but does not need replying.

You can (one time only) go to the options and choose mark all as read to quickly clear everything. Then, when you reply to a post, mark it as unread, but treat that as "have replied" instead of unread.

You won't be able to use the unread filter as that would only show you the ones you've replied to, not the ones that need replying. However, you'll be able to glance through and see which ones have been replied to by looking for the blue unread indicator.

You'll still have to monitor replies to your own post.

New posts are problematic, because they will also appear as unread, but you can do the scrolling thing with them to turn them off. Just don't use the mark all as read or you'll lose all of your markers.