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Discussions Redesign Early Access

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Hello Community! We have many improvements lined up for our Discussions feature in Canvas. We are taking an iterative approach to delivering value to you as soon as possible so you will see improvements released in stages. Please look out for release timing on our Roadmap page. 

Discussions Redesign


Our designers and engineers are working hard to get these first set of features out to you over the next few months.

1st Release 

  • we're freshening up the UI to take better advantage of the space and ensure responsive views
  • we moved the toolbar to the top of the page
  • newest replies will appear on the top of page 1 instead of the bottom of the last page
  • you can toggle the sort order of replies from newest to oldest, oldest to newest
  • you can mark a post as unread/read from the reply kebab menu

2nd Release (these features are currently in Design or Development, some features might move up to 1st Release or down 3rd Release)

  • you can see single and multiple Due Dates in the Discussion Topic
  • you can navigate to Group Discussions
  • the Discussion Topic kebab will be complete (Add/Edit Peer Reviews, Add/Edit Rubrics, Share to Commons)
  • Search functionality will be complete
  • you can see Author, Teacher, and TA pills in the Discussion Topic and Replies
  • you can tag another person in a reply with @mentions 
  • you can include a preview of the reply you are responding to in your reply
  • replies will be limited to 1-level deep

3rd+ Release (these features are in the Discovery phase and may change)

  • Anonymous Posting + Moderation
    • Author
      • Author can create a graded or non-graded Discussion Topic anonymously (avatar and display name are hidden)
      • Author can enable moderation to their Discussion Topic
      • Author can assign/remove moderators (roles or individual names)
      • Author can set moderation settings:
        • All replies must be approved by a moderator
        • Moderators can add/remove other moderators
      • Author can allow anonymous replies to their Discussion Topic
      • if the Discussion Topic is a graded discussion, author can enable anonymous grading:
        • Graders cannot view student names
        • Graders cannot view each other's names
    • Moderator
      • Moderator can approve or reject replies
      • Moderator can undo approved or rejected replies
      • if enabled, moderator can add/remove other moderators
    • Viewer
      • If enabled, viewers of the Discussion Topic can reply anonymously (avatar and display name are hidden)
      • Viewers can report replies (Teachers and Admins will be able to see avatars and display names of reported replies)
  • Q&A style posts
    • you will be able to up/down vote replies
    • Teachers and TA's can mark a post as correct
  • Discussion Index page redesign
  • Checkpoints
    • Teachers can create "checkpoints" per Discussion Topic (ie. Students must read by X date, Students must submit 1st reply by Y date, Students must submit 2nd reply by Z date)


Best, Katrina & Allison

Community Member

Many of the changes you have outlined are exciting and I am looking forward to them.  However, I am concerned about the plan to have replies only one layer deep.  Sometimes I or a student will make a post which is replied to and then that reply is replied to.  If replies are only one layer deep, doesn't that keep a discussion from morphing into something more?  Will it keep the discussion from becoming very deep?  Maybe I'm not understanding what is being planned by this modification.  If so, please help me to understand!  Thank you!


Hi @baldwinsh, next week I will elaborate on the changes to reply navigation. Stay tuned!

Best, Katrina

Community Member

Do you have an ETA for when this will new Discussion feature will be available?  Having multiple due dates for the discussions would be so helpful to students and faculty. Thank you! 


Hi @amy_lane1, this redesigned version of Discussions is available now behind the Discussions/Announcements Feature Preview flag. Sep 15th will be a great time to test it out since we're rolling out a lot of features in that release.

Best, Katrina 

Community Champion

@Katrina-Hess  - I am having some hesitation with enabling this to evaluate on live courses not knowing details on potential changes to reply depth.

On a related note, I believe I read somewhere that I can enable the New Discussions feature to a course that has already started and if something goes awry - or if there is a decision to limit the depths of replies to a single reply, for example - then the instructor can then disable the feature option and revert back.  Please confirm this is accurate.

My gratitude.



Hi @Jeff_F, enabling the Feature Preview flag in a current course or sandbox allows Admins and Teachers to evaluate a new feature. If the new feature is missing core functionality or have critical bugs, you can simply disable the Feature Preview flag. 

We are updating the reply navigation including how the threads nest. I encourage you to test out the new features after the Sep 15th release. Please provide feedback in the comments on Reply Navigation Update in Discussions Redesign

Best, Katrina


Community Champion

I've enabled the new design and I am in process of replying to students. A few notes:

  • I no longer have the ability to quickly see which students I've replied to.  I am required to click the Replies count link to expose the responses.  There is no 'Expand All' button.
  • Perhaps there could be a little icon to indicate a course instructor replied to the student post?  Or perhaps something such as this? Include a filter for no replies.



Community Champion

In the current discussions, pressing enter at the end of a sentence creates the visualization of a paragraph and there is a spacing between paragraphs.  In the redesign there is no space between paragraphs.  I like the spaces as it improves readability.

comparison of paragraph spacingcomparison of paragraph spacing


Community Champion

After setting Discussion availability dates I noted that the Modules page nor the actual discussion itself indicated the date the Discussion was to be available.  To see this one must select Discussions on the left menu.

As students can enter a discussion activity via Modules, clicking 'Next' on page bottom, or via the To-Do task list, I recommend including not only the Due date, but also the availability date.  

A mock up of a possible approach - image taken from the top of a discussion page.

discussion not available untildiscussion not available until

Community Member

Amazing to see Multiple Checkpoints finally getting its development - one of the most requested updates from our school!

Community Member

I am looking forward to the anonymous posting feature! 

Any timeframe for the 3rd release? 

Community Champion

@Katrina-Hess  & the development team - 

A little feedback on the redesign with the flyout panel for replies…

  1. Instructors cannot easily identify the students they have not replied to. Each time I came to the board I felt compelled to click through each student reply to ensure I was doing a thorough job.  I was compelled to do so because of #2 below.  

  2. The redesigned board is configured so the newest posts show first. The sort order is based on the initial reply and apparently all subsequent replies to that post. As configured, the sequence is continuously changing so instructors cannot assume that they have replied to a set of earlier initial replies based on the date posted and relative positioning on the board.

  3. An 'expand all' option to reveal all posts is not a possibility as the replies are now contained separately in the flyout panel. 

  4. While entering a reply, if I were to click off the fly out elsewhere on the screen, the flyout panel disappears and the content I’ve entered is irretrievably lost. 

  5. The text box and toolbar in the fly out is much smaller. If I were to expand to Fullscreen, the text box increases in size, but does not widen more than the existing fly out. The toolbar does display more of the menu options when expanded. At Fullscreen the text box is set to wrap at about 313 characters but only displays the first 115 characters. Anything more than 115 characters or so is off the screen. Note: I use the Chrome browser. 

  6. After students reply to the discussion prompt, others can reply to that student. But then if someone wishes to post a 2nd level reply (or greater) such replies are not threaded. Instead, there is a ‘Quote’ response option. I am unsure how this works with notifications, etc.

  7. Viewing unread replies via the list does not auto mark them ‘read’. Currently it is necessary to manually mark replies as read. However, if you instead filter for Unread you will see the full list of Unread replies. Then select ‘Go to Reply’ to see the post in context of the original post and all replies to that student post. When replies are displayed after filtering for Unread replies, they do automatically update to Read. However, the count of unread replies on the main discussions page does not appear to update to reflect you having read all discussions.


2 cents:   My sense is that students and instructors are likely less apt to read as many posts and replies. This is because accessing the post requires a manual click to open the reply or replies. While one can filter for Unread, doing so means they then need to click again to view the context of the post. 


So which is better - a discussion list that involves scrolling or sets of posts that require multiple clicks to access with a new fly out panel?  

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

One of my students/participants is saying the reply button to the main discussion forum is missing? Is that related to the due date or a hiccup?

Sky V.

Community Champion

@SkyVKing is an 'available from' date set on the discussion?   Having that set will remove the reply button until the specified date.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Hey there @Jeff_F ,

Thank you for your reply. However, the only date specified on this discussion is the due date.

I'm asking the participant info regarding their browser because I'm not sure if anyone else is having similar trouble with replies.

Sky V.


Hi @Jeff_F

  • we are considering a "no replies" filter, thanks for your your use case and feedback
  • the paragraph spacing is a known issue and be fixed soon
  • the availability date is also a known issue and will be fixed soon
  • we are considering all the feedback we've received around the thread tray vs. scrolling/expanded replies... will update everyone here as we get further along in our discovery


Thanks @irene_omara, we'll let this user group know when we start working on Checkpoints!


Hi @Stewart-Space, we cannot speak to a timeframe for Anonymity yet but will be able to soon. We will post an update here as well as the Roadmap page as we get further along.


Hi @SkyVKing, we haven't been able to replicate this issue and haven't heard other reports of the reply button missing. Any further details you can provide would help. Alternatively, the student could submit a ticket Help > Report a Problem.