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Community Member

Organizing discussions

My course has multiple modules and each module will have at least one, if not more, discussion prompts. What's the best way to keep track of the discussions: create a separate discussion group for each prompt, or put all the discussion groups, with their respective prompts, on the same discussion "page"? (If that's even possible.)


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Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello  @howardmichaelda ...

Full disclosure...I am an administrator for our school's Canvas environment, and I do not teach courses at our Technical College.  However, I have built many courses for our faculty, and I've built many discussion topics in courses.  My recommendation (and this is only my opinion) is to create a separate topic for each discussion prompt in your course.  This may mean that you have multiple discussion topics per module.  If you include all discussion prompts in one discussion topic, then it might be more difficult for you to keep those conversations organized.  And, if you make a single topic with multiple discussion prompts graded, how do you know which discussion prompt is the graded one?  Another reason I suggest separating out your discussions into their own topics is related to your own and your students' own personal Notification preference settings.

You can set up your notifications so that you are notified about new replies to topics you are subscribed to.  So, if you have all your prompts in one topic, students may get notified about many new postings in a single topic that they really don't want to get compared to them choosing which topics they want to subscribe to.

Other people may have different thoughts on this (so there might not be one "correct" answer), so I am going to switch your question over to a "Discussion".

I hope this information will be of help to you, Howard.

Community Member

Thanks. That's helpful.

Btw, how do I create group discussions? (I keep getting hung up in trying to create the groups themselves. I want to divide students into three groups, which they'll remain in for the duration of the course, and they'll collaborate in their groups and then post summaries of conversations to the class-wide discussions.

Hello again,  @howardmichaelda  Thank You for the additional question about creating discussion groups.  I would recommend the following:

  1. Create your group set via the "People" page.  This group name may be based on an assignment name or group project name (Example: "Final Project" or "Group Assignment")  How do I add a group set in a course?
  2. Create groups within the group set.  These are the names of the students in each of your groups.  (Example: "Team A", "Team B", "Team C", or "Red Team", "Blue Team", "Green Team")
  3. Create your discussion group topic in your course.  How do I create a group discussion in a course?  When assigning your topic to the group, you will be selecting the name that you created in step #1 above.  Canvas will do the rest to make sure that each of your three groups have their own group discussion.

There are also a couple video tutorials that might be of help to you:

I hope these resources will be of help to you, Howard. 


Not to be too dense, but I find Canvas nomenclature and protocols thoroughly confusticating. (I’m also a bit tetchy because yesterday the Canvas server kept dropping images out of my course, but that’s another matter.)

Here’s what I want to do:

Aside from my students participating in a class-wide discussion, I want to divide my students in groups, and have students within each group respond to each other about specific questions in a module. Also, I want students in their respective groups to summarize particular responses and then post those summaries to the class-wide discussion.

The course is in development and I don’t have actual students at the moment.

Other suggestions as to how to proceed?




Here’s a snapshot of what I created previously.

1. Can a create a student list and assign them to a course?

2. I want students to work within their groups to respond to specific questions. Each group will have the same question(s) to respond to, but how do I set that up so that they can respond multiple times in a given Module? Do I add the groups to a Discussion?



Hi  @howardmichaelda ...

Totally understandable that the terminology can be confusing at times...especially about "Group Sets" and "Groups".  But, if you follow the steps that I gave you in my earlier reply, that will allow you to set up a group discussion the way you want.  (The screen shots under the heading "Save and Publish" and "View Discussion" in the Guide show you what your group discussion topic should look like if you set it up correctly.)

Here's the asterisk, though...  When you set up a discussion topic and assign your Group Set to it, students will only be able to post to their own group and not to the class as a whole.  This is where you will probably need to create a separate discussion topic for the entire course.  So, your students will post their summaries in their own group discussion (that's your first topic), and then they will post those summaries in the class-wide discussion, too (that's your second topic).

Let me know if you have any other questions about this...thanks!

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the understanding. : > }

Apparently, I do have group discussion group that someone help me set up previously, but to save time I tried to duplicate it keeping the groups, but changing the topic, and apparently doesn’t work.

So, to be clear, everytime I want the groups to respond to another topic question I have to create that discussion, correct?


Hi again,  @howardmichaelda ...

In looking at your screen shot, I've got a few suggestions.  Each of your tabs at the top (Course discussion groups, Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Workbook/Journals) is considered a "Group Set".  Again, I do not teach courses (I'm only a Canvas administrator), but if I were setting up groups in my course, I might name them the same as my assignment names.  Then, within each Group Set, I can create groups of students.  For example, in one assignment I might have four groups of five students...but in another assignment, I might want five groups of four students.  I'm not exactly sure what the tabs for the Group Sets called "Group 1", "Group 2", and "Group 3" are for at the top of your screen shot.  Do you have groups in those Groups sets like you do for "Courses discussion groups"?

1. Can a create a student list and assign them to a course?

Once students are populated in your "People" page of your course, they will be listed on your Groups creating page so that you can add them to the groups within your Group Sets.

2. I want students to work  within their groups to respond to specific questions. Each group will have the same question(s) to respond to, but how do I set that up so that they can respond multiple times in a given Module? Do I add the groups to a Discussion?

When you create your discussion topic, you only need to tell Canvas that it is a group discussion, and then select the Group Set that you created via your "People" page.  If you use the directions I gave you above, Canvas will handle the rest as far as making sure students are only able to post to their own group discussions and will not be able to see the postings/replies of others in the other groups that you've created for that Group Set.  Just like normal discussion topics, students can reply as much or as little as they want to group discussion topics.  Does this help?

 @howardmichaelda ...

I believe that is correct...if the discussion topic doesn't already exist somewhere else in your course.