Discussion Redesign Update

SamGarza1
Instructure
Instructure
27
4774

Canvas.png

Hello Community! Over the last two years since this feature group was created, our team has released many updates to the Discussion/Announcement Redesign feature preview. Taking user feedback from this group, the community as a whole, and internally to ensure that what we created didn’t have any loss in functionality but also provided new functionality that our users needed. With our recent deploys which include flexible viewing, inline and split view, and edit history we feel that now the time has come to enforce the redesign so everyone has access. 

I’ve included a list of all the functionality that currently exists in the legacy version and what’s new below to give a comprehensive overview of the redesign. 

Discussions Redesign

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To start we wanted to ensure that there was no loss of functionality between the old and new experience. Users will still be able to set up discussions in the same way with the same requirements. 

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

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  • Previous/Next buttons for Modules
  • Group Discussions
  • Peer Review
  • Add to student to-do list
  • View deleted posts (change: deleted posts always show)
  • Rubrics

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Once we were sure that no functionality would be lost, we shifted our focus to new functionality that we could add. This includes:

  • Improved search with highlighting
  • Edit History
  • Flexible viewing options: Inline and split view
  • Role Labels
  • Quoting
  • Reply Reporting and notifications to Instructors
  • Full and partial anonymous graded discussions
  • Sort options (Newest to Oldest, Oldest to Newest)
  • Filtering (All, Unread, Read)

Announcements

While Announcements is also getting a facelift to improve accessibility and provide design consistency, no functionality has been changed. 

SamGarza1_3-1701471845977.png

 

How to experience the redesign?

Before July 20, 2024, users will need to turn on the Discussions/Announcements Redesign feature flag. If this has been turned off at the account/root level you’ll need to contact your admin to enable it.

After July 20, 2024, the redesign will be enabled for everyone - no migration or further action is needed. All existing discussions and announcements will simply be updated with the new UI and have access to all the new functionality. 

We value your continued feedback and are looking forward to taking this next step. More information can be found in the Product Blog and the Feature Group Knowledge Base

Best, Sam

27 Comments
mmoore1
Community Contributor

Great News.  We will start advertising at Ventura College. 

gwitmer
Community Novice

I'm so glad to see anonymous discussion boards finally become possible. This is absolutely critical for some of what I teach.

One question: does the redesign allow the instructor to know the identity of the anonymous student poster? I know that students would want to know whether they are truly anonymous or only anonymous to the other students.

Thanks for this very good news; I will be using it asap this spring 2024 semester.

jw2546
Community Coach
Community Coach

@SamGarza1 wrote:
  • Filtering (All, Unread, Read)

Is the Read filter something that is still being worked on, as it does not look available in the View dropdown.

ereagan
Community Member

I have opted into the "Discussions/Announcements" feature preview in one of my classes. 

I still do not see any "Checkpoints" or multiple due dates option for Discussions. When will it be available before the July 2024 implementation? Shouldn't all of the new options available in the "preview" be launched in this stage also?

I only see the View Options and Anonymous Posting available so far in the preview.

Am I missing a step? 

Thanks,

Evette

morlin
Community Participant

I really look forward to the multiple due dates for the assignment as a whole.

It so confuses my students to have the initial post date and then the date change for the response. If anyone's developed a good technique/wording for that, please share.

I would really appreciate; so would my students!

callinger
Community Participant

In reference to the "Multiple Due Date" discussion:

I'm hoping someone from Instructure can confirm this, but I believe that the phrasing "multiple due dates" here has gotten our hopes up. This seems to be in reference to the function that we can differentiate assignments -- assign different students or sections different due dates. What we all have been hoping for (and asking for) is being able to have multiple due dates in the sense that initial posts are due on X date and replies are due on Y date. This desired functionality doesn't seem to be on the current roadmap, as far as I can see. Please confirm, Instructure Peeps?

@morlin -- FYI: My workaround is to set one due date in Canvas itself (e.g. date for initial posts) and then set a calendar item for the other due date (e.g. titled "Week 1 Discussion Replies Due"). When I have the time, I even link the assignment in the event description. This is not an elegant workaround, but it only requires up-front work rather than work while the course is running. 

JamesSekcienski
Community Coach
Community Coach

@ereagan @morlin @callinger 

Multiple due dates is a feature that is already available.  Multiple due dates refers to the ability to use the "Assign To" settings to assign different due dates to different users.

Checkpoints is the name of the feature that will allow an instructor to set one due date for when the initial post is due and a second due date for when replies are due.  This feature is still in development and has not yet been released so you won't see it in the Discussion Re-design yet.  @SamGarza1 has shared before that they are working on this and hope to have it released in Q1, but an exact date hasn't been announced yet.  If you look at the Product Roadmap, this feature is listed under Q1 2024 - Q2 2024 as part of the following: "Students engage in deeper, more meaningful discussion with classmates with clear checkpoints to guide their way."

rpsloan
Community Participant

@SamGarza1 Would at any point before the enforcement would this discussion become available in the app?

PhyllisPost
Community Member

I'd like to see the ability to use editing options (like bold or highlighting text) in Discussion posts.

 

jw2546
Community Coach
Community Coach

@PhyllisPost Are you talking about applying formatting when making the post or editing a post you've already made? I believe those functions are already available. Is there something different you are looking for?

lshulman
Community Participant

@SamGarza1  wrote:

Users will still be able to set up discussions in the same way with the same requirements. 

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

===========

EXCEPT no longer able to specify "allow threaded replies" (so, so very important to many of us)

And what about "graded" and "allow liking"???

GRADED discussions is also VERY important option.

Current (old) version of discussions:

Options

 
jawmedina
Community Participant

I like the look and feel of the new Canvas discussions, but it is difficult to navigate to specific discussions. I try to spread out my comments to all students throughout the semester, but the New Canvas discussion makes that extremely difficult. For example, if I mark that I read and replied to a student's post, as soon as another student replies to that post, the OP post is marked unread and I have to mark the replies I didn't read as read so it shows the original post was read. Also, the sort function needs more options. I cannot see the posts in the order they are posted as they are either posted with the most current activity or the oldest activity.

Is there a way to allow individual posts to remain marked as read even if there are new replies? How can I sort based on the newest and oldest posts, not newest and oldest activity? As it is now, I may have to discontinue its use.

jawmedina
Community Participant

@ereagan @morlin @callinger 

For the different dates and replies, I make the initial post due (due date) on Tuesday and then I make the replies due on Thursday (end date). They get to see the due date in the calendar, but not the reply date (end) date. I then award points if they meet the initial post due date. It works fairly well for me. If there is a post after the due date, Canvas marks it as late. It isn't ideal, but it works well enough. 

WhitniBuckles
Community Explorer

Does this redesign allow for the use of Turnitin with Discussions? This is a critical need.

afurr0026
Community Participant

It would be ideal if a Discussion/Announcement Redesign training could be added to the Training Services Portal as an option for admins and faculty (regardless if the institution has an elevated subscription or not to the portal).

We all have access to a New Quizzes Essentials training and it seems that if Instructure is going to enforce the Discussion/Announcement Redesign tool, then at the least, there should be some type of universal training available for all admins and faculty that could be easily accessed. Admins could then direct faculty to a universal training that thoroughly explains this redesigned tool before the transition is enforced for all this July. Stumbling across information in the Community and/or reviewing numerous guides is not ideal or acceptable. 

If a training cannot be created, then a detailed video explaining the redesigned tool would be extremely beneficial. Maybe this already exists, and I've overlooked it. If so, could someone share the location of the video? 

roberta_niche
Community Participant

This is training is essential.

TrinaAltman
Community Participant

@afurr0026 great ideas!

Regarding your question on the video resource, on 12/1/23 Sam Garza from Instructure said, "Our team is also working on overview and comparison videos and will have those available in the next 1-2 weeks." Community members have asked about the status of the videos a few times along the way (including this post by @vanzandt as recently as last week). I haven't seen a response yet nor notice that the videos are available, but maybe I missed it. @SamGarza1 would you be able to provide an update or link to the videos if they are available? Thank you.

Jeff_F
Community Champion

@SamGarza1 

Hello! Can it please be explained why the font of the 2nd, 3rd, etc. level replies is smaller than the initial reply?

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Smaller fontSmaller font

 

 

afurr0026
Community Participant

Just to follow up on my 2/28/24 post, an overview video is now posted at the top of this page, and it can also be found at Dive into the Discussion Redesign with Our New Video!

Also, within the Dive into the Discussion Redesign with Our New Video! comments, @KevinMeredith posted a direct link and embed code for the video. 

pray4
Community Explorer

I'll just say quite frankly that if you force this update prior to having an "allow threaded replies" option functioning in parity with the existing discussion boards, you are doing your clients an incredible disservice.

The new quizzes launch was highly problematic, but at least in that instance, you rightfully backed off the forced implementation. We are at the point as administrators where we need to communicate out the impact of these changes and sound the alarms where necessary. If you are going to delay the forced rollout as most think you should, it would be greatly appreciated if you would provide us all an update on that now, rather than force us to work through a PM fiasco that will also involve communicating out to multiple committees, creating new resources, etc.

The checkpoints option has yet to be added. How can we properly prepare for rollout when we are mere months away and still do not have final product in place for testing, review, and so on?

arovner
Community Contributor

A faculty just explained that he was struggling so much using Groups in New Discussions that he just turned it off and went back to using "classic" Discussions. He says that in classic Discussions, it's very easy as a Teacher to click on your discussion and see a list of all the groups and how many posts are in each one. In the new discussions, there is a drop down menu that you have to navigate to each separate group and no indication of how many responses are in each one. It's a lot of extra clicks and he is super frustrated. 

Thank you for reading.

Nancy_Webb_CCSF
Community Champion

Hi @arovner,  I hadn't tested group discussions and verified what you experience.  Luckily, it looks like the 4/10 update will add the number of unread posts to that dropdown list, hopefully both in the main discussion and also in the "select group" dropdown when viewing a group's workspace.  Discussions/Announcements Redesign: Release Change... - Instructure Community - 478033 (canvaslms.co...

It is still an extra click to view the dropdown list with unread count, but at least teacher will know if a group discussion needs a visit.  I hope it will also show total messages, guess we'll soon see.

hesspe
Community Champion

 Re: @Nancy_Webb_CCSF  to @arovner

I hope you're right about the unread posts dropdown issue being resolved in the 4/10 deploy. The Release Notes for the 4/10 deploy lists that as a "Feature Preview."  Does this mean it will be  a "Feature Option" that an Admin can turn on in their instance at will?  The description quoted below makes it seem like it may not be.  Perhaps @SamGarza1  or someone else from Instructure can clarify with regard to this improvement (or we can wait three days and see what happens).

"A Feature Preview indicates a feature option in active development. Users who opt into the feature and join the Community user group can help improve the feature...When this feature option is available for general use, the feature option will be announced in the Canvas Release Notes."  

kda106
Community Participant

@SamGarza1 This says "Full and partial anonymous graded discussions", but when you make a Discussion either full or partially anonymous, it can no longer be graded.

 

hesspe
Community Champion
 

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Jeff_F
Community Champion

@SamGarza1 @SamGarza1 

GM! - Like everyone else, we have begun preparations for communicating the required adoption of the redesign. While we created our own brief video to help instructors, it would be very helpful if the Canvas guides, including existing video resources for students, were updated to reflect the features of the redesign. See the link below.

https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Video-Guide/Discussions-Overview-Students/ta-p/383515 

I would like such a video to make mention of any key changes. For example, resorting of the boards based on the most recent post (and comment?), the need to click the expand all button in the Inline view to view all posts without having to click the Replies link under each post, the requirement to click the View Replies link to see replies in the split screen view, the change in the indenting, mentions, etc.

Perhaps that exists but I am not finding it.

Our group appreciates all the effort that goes into the planning, UI design, coding, QA testing, documentation, and support. Please send a high-five to everyone on the team. 

Our email goes out to the +150 faculty teaching in our April term this morning. And then we have the +800 courses in May.  Wish us luck. 🍀

afurr0026
Community Participant

@Jeff_F 

A video existed, but I'm unable to locate it now in the Canvas Guides.

However, I do have the embed code since we created our own training for faculty and included this embed code as an optional resource that they could then add to their discussions. 

Unsure if Canvas folks are planning to update this resource since it definitely no longer exists in the guides. 

Found it:  How do I reply to a discussion in Discussions Redesign as a student? 


<iframe width="560px" height="320px" allowfullscreen="true" allow="autoplay *" title="Canvas Shorts: How do I reply to a discussion in discussions redesign?" src="https://community.instructuremedia.com/embed/039130b6-e41d-4d2a-aa65-a97bf0d04321" frameborder="0"></iframe>