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Canvas Release: Discussions/Announcements Redesign

Canvas Release: Discussions/Announcements Redesign

This document (last updated 2022-03-02) provides a summary of the Discussions/Announcements Redesign feature, which was originally introduced in the Canvas Release Notes (2021-06-19). For specific release updates within this document, please see the releases change log.

Discussion and announcement topics display an updated design with small usability enhancements. These changes ensure page responsiveness and prepare the interface for feature functionality improvements.


Community Resources

Feature Releases

This document outlines up-to-date functionality for this feature. This document will continue to receive additional updates as indicated in the feature's release change log. Releases are subject to change.

Customer Feedback

Community feedback for the Discussions/Announcements Redesign project is welcome in the Discussions/Announcements Redesign User Group Forum.

Feature Documentation

New documentation for this feature is available in the Canvas Guides:

Comments are welcome for functionality clarification. Lessons will also be updated with all future enhancements as indicated in the change log.

Feature/Integration Setup

Feature Preview

The Discussions/Announcements Redesign project involves the Discussions/Announcements Redesign feature preview, which can be allowed on a course-by-course basis or turned on for all courses across the entire account. By default, this feature preview is set to Off. Canvas admins can manage this feature preview in Account Settings.

By default, this feature preview is set to Off and Unlocked, which means it is visible at the course level but is not turned on. Institutions who prefer that this preview not display at the course level should lock the feature preview at the account level in Account Settings.

Active Development

This feature enhances the Canvas experience within Discussions. When this preview is enabled in a course, early access to ongoing improvements will be displayed automatically with every release. Customers who choose to enable this feature in the production environment should subscribe to this document and the Discussions/Announcements Redesign User Group to stay current with upcoming features and their release dates.


Permissions for Discussions are outlined in the Account Permissions PDF and the Course Permissions PDF.

The Discussions/Announcements Redesign project currently uses the same permissions as classic Discussions and Announcements. Any changes to permissions and this project will be updated in this document.

Mobile Support

This feature is not yet available in the Canvas Mobile apps. Please see the Product Roadmap for upcoming updates when available.

Release Schedule

This feature will be available in both the beta environment as of 2021-06-07.

Production availability will be as of 2021-06-19.

Additional enhancements will continue to be made to this feature as announced in the change log.

An enforcement date of this feature will be based on planned feature development and user feedback. Additional details will be announced in Upcoming Canvas Changes when available.

Course-Level Features

Interface Modifications

For individual discussion and announcement topics, the interface has been expanded for maximum space and ensure responsive views.

The following modifications have been made to individual topics:

  • The toolbar has been moved to the top of the discussion and announcement thread.
  • Newest replies display at the top of the first page instead of the bottom of the last page.
  • Users can sort replies from newest to oldest, or oldest to newest.
  • Users can also quickly move to the top of the discussion or announcement at any time. 

Classic Discussions vs New DiscussionsClassic Discussions vs New Discussions


Feature Parity

The following functionality has been included for parity with classic Discussions: 

  • Users must post before seeing replies
  • Reply posts can be marked as read or unread
  • Discussion time stamp edit display
  • Multiple Due Dates (addition: individual student names are displayed instead of the total number of students)
  • Available From and Until Dates
  • Previous/Next buttons for Modules
  • Group Discussions
  • Peer Review
  • Add to student to-do list


The following functionality has been included for parity with classic Announcements: 

  • Users must post before seeing replies
  • Reply posts can be marked as read or unread
  • Announcement time stamp edit display
  • Announcement delay post alert (teachers/instructors)

Additional parity features will be added in future releases.

Additional Functionality

Role Labels

Discussion and announcement threads display a label for users with TA roles and Teacher (Instructor) roles. This feature helps students more quickly identify users with instructor-based roles in the course.

Threads also include a label indicating the discussion or announcement author.

Author and Teacher LabelsAuthor and Teacher Labels


Reply Sidebar

A discussion reply can support up to one additional reply. When a reply includes additional replies, the number of replies is displayed, as well as the number of unread replies (specific to the user viewing the reply). All replies are nested together and displayed in a sidebar. 

Reply sidebarReply sidebar



Users can mention other users in discussion replies by using the @ symbol. All available users in the course display in the drop-down menu.

Mentions in DIscussionsMentions in DIscussions



Users can quote other replies as part of their discussion reply. 

Quotes in discussion repliesQuotes in discussion replies


Reply Reporting

Within individual discussions, replies can be reported by students and teachers. Teachers can choose to enable reporting in the Discussions Settings menu.

Discussion SettingsDiscussion Settings

Once enabled, all users can report replies by clicking the Settings menu for the reply and clicking the Report button. 

Report ButtonReport Button

When a reply is reported by a user, the user must indicate why the reply is being reported (inappropriate, offensive and/or abusive, or Other). Reporting a reply cannot be undone.

Report Reply WindowReport Reply Window

Once a reply has been reported, the Settings menu for the discussion will display to other users as Reported and cannot be selected again. 

Discussion Menu with Reported ButtonDiscussion Menu with Reported Button


Reported Reply Notifications (Teachers)

To be notified of reported replies, teachers can enable the Discussions Reported Reply notification in their account- or course-level notifications page. Email notifications include a direct link to the reply that has been reported. 

Reporting a reply does not hide the reply; all replies are still visible to all users. However, teachers can choose to edit or delete the reported reply.

Note: Once a reply is reported, it will always display as Reported and cannot be cleared by teachers.

Notifications: Discussions Reported Reply OptionNotifications: Discussions Reported Reply Option


Anonymous Discussions

Discussions allow teachers to create anonymous discussions. This option displays when creating a new discussion for a course. By default this option is set to off.

When anonymity is turned on for a discussion, grading and groups are not supported.

Anonymous Discussion OptionAnonymous Discussion Option


When the Discussion Settings menu option is selected for students to create discussions, the option is also included to allow students to create anonymous discussions. This option is not selected by default.

Teacher Discussions Settings page and Anonymous DiscussionsTeacher Discussions Settings page and Anonymous Discussions


When an anonymous discussion exists in the course, the Discussions page indicates anonymous discussions before a student opens the discussion.

Anonymous Discussion in the Discussions Index PageAnonymous Discussion in the Discussions Index Page


Users with a teacher, TA, or designer role in the course will never be anonymous. However, student names and profile pictures are hidden from other course members, including teachers. Admins who are not explicitly enrolled as a teacher, TA, or designer and create a reply also display as anonymous. Additionally, users who view a course without having a course enrollment (such as when participating in a public course) also display as anonymous.

Anonymous Discussion ThreadAnonymous Discussion Thread


Anonymous discussion posts include the standard settings options, including reporting replies.

When an observer views a fully anonymous discussion, the text now displays This is an anonymous Discussion. Student names and profile pictures are hidden. When an observer views a partially anonymous discussion, the text now displays Students have the option to reply anonymously. Some names and profile pictures may be hidden.

Observer View Fully Anonymous DiscussionObserver View Fully Anonymous Discussion


Observer View Partially Anonymous DiscussionObserver View Partially Anonymous Discussion


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