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Discussions Redesign Early Access

Katrina-Hess
Instructure
Instructure
22 61 6,077

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

discussions_redesign.png

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

61 Comments
crafte
Community Champion

I am looking forward to multiple due dates. I am able to see the June discussion features in beta. When selecting to open a discussion in SpeedGrader in the current version, it opens in a new tab. When I select the option to open a discussion in SpeedGrader in the new design, it opens in the same tab. Please keep SpeedGrader to open in a new tab. 

snugent
Community Champion

Can you clarify what will not be available? In my testing it appears rubrics and peer review are not available. Can you confirm it will be that way in production as well? It makes it hard to know if I discovered a bug or just unavailable feature. 

andrea_earl
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

I’m excited about the redesign! I love having new posts on top. That will save a lot of scrolling. 

However, I have one frustration with current group discussions: After students post, and they select “Home” it takes them to the group home instead of the course home. This is very confusing for new Canvas users. Will this be addressed in the redesign?

bcrook
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Newest replies on top, ability to toggle the order of replies, and multiple dates are all particularly exciting!  Looking forward to experiencing more.

l_lucas
Community Participant

Hi Katrina

Really looking forward to the new design - new messages at top and @mentions will be really useful.

But can we PLEASE have pagination for discussions? We have a course that has over 2,000 participants who are very active in the forums - and it can literally take minutes for the discussions page to open - and this is very frustrating for our users and instructors.

This would be our number one request to fix in discussions - and is a feature of every other discussion engine I have ever seen or used.

Lex

Nancy_Webb_CCSF
Community Champion

This just briefly appeared in our production site, and then it disappeared.  Interesting!

So I turned it on in Beta to do some testing.  Wonderful new features, @mentions, newest on top by default, toolbar at the top (it was sometimes difficult to find it under a complicated discussion description).

I also really like that threaded discussions show up collapsed by default.  And that you view replies by clicking on Replies under that thread. 

It does seem to be missing collapse/expand all - might that return to the toolbar? Sometimes a teacher might want to see all the posts and not just by thread.

Thanks!

dbrace
Community Contributor

A faculty member at my institution brought to my attention that the new functionality was briefly (not sure how long) enabled in our production site on Monday, June 14th.  I contacted Canvas Support and they were surprised that it had been too.  The functionality was removed shortly after and by approximately 4:45 PM EST.

dbrace
Community Contributor

I have a question about the "pills" for a role.  Will the roles be any custom roles or will they be the standard role that a custom role is based on?

dbrace
Community Contributor

For individual discussions, I would like to request modability to (1) edit a post/reply and (2) delete a post/reply.  In my opinion, the default would be to not allow edits or deletes.

Related to the ability to edit or delete a post/reply would be for a faculty member, moderator (as that becomes available), or an administrator (with the appropriate permissions) to see the history of an individual post/reply or any deleted posts/replies.

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

@dbrace Here's the conversation that is underway requesting separation of the Edit and Delete permissions for a discussion:  Separate "Edit" and "Delete" discussion permission... 

dbrace
Community Contributor

@Stefanie, is that idea (which is from February 2020) apart of this beta user group (which was only recently created)?

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

@dbrace  Many of our existing ideas, including that one, request changes to discussions that either already do or will potentially fit into the current redesign project.

dbrace
Community Contributor

@Stefanie, OK. It seems difficult to know where to comment/post when specifically making a request that is apart of a feature's redesign in its beta hub.

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

@dbrace You're doing fine! Feel free to continue to comment here on the specifics of the redesign, and we'll do our best to find the outstanding requests that are already associated with a particular comment.

anner
Community Member

In many of our departments, instructors would like a participation auto-grade. I see Phase 3 has "checkpoints." Would it be possible to assign auto-points to these checkpoints?

Jeff_F
Community Champion

Can this bullet be explained?  Does this mean that I cannot reply to a student response to the discussion prompt?

  • replies will be limited to 1-level deep

 

Also, when students use Studio to screen record a response, by default the post includes the Studio in-video comment feature.  This makes for a messy discussion forum and creates a bit of havoc as then the instructor may not see all responses within the SpeedGrader.  My wish is for Studio Comments to be off by default when posting to a discussion response.

Edit: this above was resolved with the Canvas Studio update on 6/28.   How awesome is that !?
https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Studio-Releases/Studio-Release-Notes-2021-06-28/ta-p/470810  

Edit (8/12) - well that was short lived. An additional Studio release reinstated the Comment feature to be on by default. When something seems too good to be true, it usually is.  🙄

https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Studio-Releases/Studio-Release-Notes-2021-08-09/ta-p/476407 

Jeff_F
Community Champion

Is the Teacher pill something that can be customized? i.e. via CSS/java or other means.

For example, Higher Ed may need 'Instructor' or something similar.

Nancy_Webb_CCSF
Community Champion

@Jeff_F , about your question:

replies will be limited to 1-level deep

I just tested. Currently, looks like 2 levels under each thread. Considered the main discussion to be top level 0.  I replied the main discussion (level 1), then replied to that reply (2).  I was able to reply to the 2nd level reply (3).  There is no reply button on level 3 replies, I can only reply to levels 0, 1 and 2.  Replying to the main topic starts a new thread.  So, the threads allow for 2 levels of reply.

A) I like the big red reply button on the main discussion topic, and the smaller red reply arrow on the other levels.  I like threads! 

B) The limiting replies to one level deep is part of the 2nd release.  I hope they will not remove any of the currently allowed levels, 

C) Changing View All to View Unread doesn't seem to work. Although I see "7 replies, 3 unread" at the top, choosing View Unread displays "Your search did not match any entries," no entries display.

D) I have discussion settings "Manually mark posts as read" but am unable to change the red dot to show it's read.  If I don't set it to manually mark posts, then the red dots do clear automatically as they come into view. (View Unread still doesn't work.)

 

Katrina-Hess
Instructure
Instructure

@crafte thanks for your feedback. We'll make sure that SpeedGrader opens in a new tab.

@snugent Rubrics and Peer review are not in production yet. Peer review should be available soon and Rubrics are in progress. I'll post a release update in the coming weeks.

@andrea_earl thanks for bringing this to our attention. We'll investigate this interaction so it is not confusing.

@l_lucas thank you for sharing your use case. We are updating the pagination model for Discussions. We'll post a design update to collect feedback on the new pattern in the coming weeks.

@Nancy_Webb_CCSF

  • Are you still experiencing issues with seeing Discussions Redesign?
  • We are currently exploring the best approach for threaded replies. We'll post solutions in the user group to gather feedback as designs get more baked.
  • We'll investigate the All/Unread filters and Mark Read/Unread badges.

@dbrace 

  • Custom roles are not included in the 1st release of Role Pills. We will eventually include custom roles but are still exploring the best approach.
  • I'm not sure I understand what you mean by modability, could you clarify this a bit for me? Currently you are able to edit and delete replies.

@anner we will definitely look into assigning auto-points to Checkpoints, thanks for the request.

@Jeff_F 

  • We are changing the interaction for threaded replies but you will be able to reply to a student's reply.
  • We will explore that workflow with Studio recorded response and in-video comments.
  • The Role Pill is based off of the language determined in the Permissions page. Custom roles will be included in a future release and we can explore options for customization.
Nancy_Webb_CCSF
Community Champion

Hi @Katrina-Hess, thanks for taking the time to follow up with all the comments.

We now have Discussion Redesign available in all our courses as a Feature option, just as it should be.  Its brief earlier appearance turned on for everyone was probably a mistake.

Still have issues with All/Unread and Mark Read/Unread.  I will keep my eye on the user group posts.

dbrace
Community Contributor

Thank you, @Katrina-Hess, for getting back to us and for asking me for clarification.

Right now with "old" Discussions (and I believe the Discussions redesign) it is only possible to allow students to edit or delete a reply for all discussions (not individual discussions) in an entire course shell.  This means that if an instructor wants to allow editing or deleting of replies on an individual discussion (for example, in the "Introduce yourself" discussion at the beginning of a course) they have to make sure that the ability is enabled (following the guidance at https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Instructor-Guide/How-do-I-allow-students-to-edit-and-delete-their...) at the beginning of the course.  But that same instructor in the same course shell might not want to allow editing or deleting of replies for all (or most) of the discussions throughout the rest the course and needs to remember to disable it.

My institution's prior LMS (our transition to Canvas started in Summer 2018) allowed editing or deleting of replies in individual discussions and instructors found that to be helpful and allow more individualized control.

Related to "modability", I am not sure why I typed it but it does seem to fit what I was requesting.  It was mentioned here in the "3rd+ Release" portion of the design that there will be a moderator role.  If students have the ability to edit or delete their own replies, I believe that it would be helpful if moderators (as well as instructors and admins) have the ability to see the history of a reply if it has been edited (as well as a separate area if it a reply was deleted).  This is something that is possible in Facebook.

The ability to see the edit history would also assist in the event of any academic integrity concerns (for example, if a discussion requires that a student make their own reply before they are able to see everyone else's and a student makes a quick reply only to later edit it after viewing others) or code of conduct situations.

As far as deleting is concerned, if anyone deletes a reply (whether an admin, instructor, moderator, or student) there should be some sort of "trash" or "deleted" area of each discussion so that it can either be reviewed for academic integrity or code of conduct.

Remember that a student's activity in Canvas is a part of their academic record and should be preserved as much as possible.

Does that help explain what I was requesting?

Pam_Dunnington
Community Member

The new Discussion Interface is stripping files from the Announcements. I have had two instructors report the issue.Prod -New Format stripped FileProd -New Format stripped FileProd -Old Format Includes FileProd -Old Format Includes File

dbrace
Community Contributor

@Pam_Dunnington, has this been reported to Canvas Support?

Pam_Dunnington
Community Member

@dbrace  and @Katrina-Hess , I have reported it to Canvas and they provided no assistance and  they told me to report the issue here. 

Unfortunately, at this time, I cannot find any documentation outlining this behavior, so I am unsure of whether this is expected (as in we have not yet added UI elements to display this content) or if this is unexpected (a bug). With that said, please note that this is still an early beta feature and expected to exhibit limited functionality and unexpected behavior. 
I recommend asking the teacher in this course to consider disabling the 'Discussions Redesign' feature option, this should allow the hidden content to re-appear and please post a comment reporting this behavior in our Discussions Redesign Community Thread: https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Discussions-Redesign/Discussions-Redesign-Early-Access/ba-p/46325.... We are currently asking all users with issues or question regarding this feature to post here. Our engineers are using this thread to assess the feature.

Michael S.
Canvas Support
Support@instructure.com

Katrina-Hess
Instructure
Instructure

@Pam_Dunnington thanks for brining this to my attention. We'll investigate this issue promptly.

dbrace
Community Contributor

@Pam_Dunnington, I am not surprised that Canvas Support does not have an explanation for what is happening because it is newly released functionality.  It is still important to document what happened with Canvas Support so a ticket is created and it can be investigated.  Posting in the Community is also important because it allows others to know and I thank you for doing it.

What happens if "Discussions Redesign" is turned off, does it look and function the way that it should?

Pam_Dunnington
Community Member

Hello @Katrina-Hess ,

We have another instructor reporting the disappearing content issue. Below is the Announcement with the redesign turned on:

attached video has been removedattached video has been removed

Below is what the same post looked like in Canvas Beta after I turned the Discussion Redesign off:

Beta Course with video - redesign turned offBeta Course with video - redesign turned off

Any idea when this issue will be fixed?

 

berninghausen
Community Participant

@Katrina-Hess Is there anything in the plan to limit what Observers/Parents see in Discussions? Mainly only seeing teacher posts and students they are connected to?

kmahaffy
Community Member

The rubric question by @snugent is definitely a critical one. I would hope the update would preserve ALL functionality in the current discussions and not delete anything! We have a standard Discussion Rubric in over 220 online courses and if this disappears--even briefly--it will cause a LOT of work to correct.  Please, PLEASE say the rubrics will be preserved!

kmahaffy
Community Member

What is "multiple due dates" for these?  We have a requirement that a student must post their initial response to a discussion prompt by Friday night at 11:59 (discussions start on Tuesday) and must respond to X number of peer posts by Monday night at 11:59. Does that mean we can set this up with the multiple due date function?  If so, this will be GREAT!

mnewhart
Community Participant

In looking at the Discussions redesign release 1 (and the upcoming releases) I am concerned about a few items that are highly consequential. 

1. Editing after creating a Discussion is really difficult to access. For ungraded discussions, I still haven't found a way to edit. I think you just have to delete and start over again. For graded discussions, it is way confusing. As the instructional designer at a large CCC, we cannot adopt this until this is fixed. 

2. I really am puzzled. I was so happy to see that you can assign by section rather than having to try to create groups to accommodate FERPA in crosslisted courses with discussions, but immediately dismayed to see that you cannot make discussions for specific sections graded. Why? The other assignments let you set a graded assignment for a specific section, but this is nowhere more important than discussions. It is quite possible we will lose the ability to crosslist, a very popular service likely to create significant backlash--because of how difficult it is to make FERPA compliant discussions in Canvas. 

3. It would be great to see Canvas address the FERPA problems for crosslisted courses overall, which are well summarized here: https://kb.iu.edu/d/aqns

Thanks! 

wboswell
Community Participant

For this one: 

  • you can see single and multiple Due Dates in the Discussion Topic
    • Does this mean that you can set multiple due dates for the entire group of students? 
  • Also, there is no "next" button at the bottom to be able to move to the next thing in the module, will that be coming? 
  • The browser tab title just says "canvas LMS" instead of the name of the page, can this be fixed? It makes it hard to know which discussion/page you're on
  • canvasbrowsertabtitle.jpg
helpdesk
Community Participant
MarieNuar
Community Member

I am concerned with the level or replies permitted.  The release states "replies will be limited to 1-level deep". Why?  I want my students to continue to reply to each other, and with this new release and limiting how many levels those replies can be does not permit such a discussion.

dholik
Community Participant

We have several custom code feature adds to our discussion post area. So here is one comment and several of the items we've added that I think would be beneficial if it was core code.

1. I'd remove the ability to thumb down a comment. I don't think this would be beneficial in a higher education environment.

2. Adding "Teacher" or "Professor" next to the persons name is ok however we have custom code that boxes the professors comment box in yellow. This is much easier to see for a student than what you're recommending.

3. We added a save in place feature so a student could start typing a discussion post, save it, then pull it up to complete later without submitting it.

4. We added to buttons, one for "Show my posts", and another for "Show Instructor's Posts". This way students can see how many times they've posted in case they forgot or can filter by the instructors posts so they know which ones are new that they should respond to.

smedshammerm
Community Contributor

Any chance of "Subscribe to Individual Thread," such as a student's own main post but not the entire discussion? This was a feature in Bb that I still miss after six years in Canvas. Subscribing to a whole discussion (i.e. every post) overwhelms an inbox. 

AlanIsaac
Community Member

I recently switched to the Discussion Redesign. However, I can no longer edit the initial post in Discussions. (The vertical ellipsis does not display its menu when clicked, and the Edit button is gone.) Editing of replies still works.

Update: As a workaround, open the Discussion, and then in the browser's address bar, append /edit to the Discussion address.

AlanIsaac
Community Member

As a workaround, open the Discussion, and then in the browser's address bar, append /edit to the Discussion address.

bcrook
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

I haven't checked this in a while, but was just working with new faculty on using Discussions and was so surprised to find that I could not Edit my discussion or add Rubrics!  I mean, surely these items would be coming over since we could do them before and, something as simple yet important as Edit should be included before this was even released into beta, IMO.  Am I silly to think so?

 

AlanIsaac
Community Member
bcrook
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

@AlanIsaac Yes, I see that.  And thank you!  But my point is that it should have never come to beta without the Edit feature in the first place.

Katrina-Hess
Instructure
Instructure

Hi @bcrook, Discussions Redesign is in an early access/feature preview state. This is a new approach we are trying so that you all can see what we're building in real time and we can capture feedback as soon as possible. There are many features and bugs we are still addressing. 

Best, Katrina 

bcrook
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Thank you @Katrina-Hess!. I appreciate the feedback.  And I apologize if my comment came through as stern. That was really not my best self and I apologize!  

dbrace
Community Contributor

It seems that there may have been some recent updates made to this post.

Can those changes be mentioned as a comment or outlined in a "Change Log" that would be similar to what is provided in Canvas Release Notes, such as 2021-08-21.

Thank you!

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

@dbrace 

We're providing updates for feature previews in dedicated documents that members of the user groups will be able to find in the right panel of the home page for the group; this new workflow is referenced in the August 21 release notes. Here's the newly-updated document for the discussions redesign initiative:  Canvas Release: Discussions/Announcements Redesign.

dbrace
Community Contributor

Thank you @Stefanie. Connecting the two together (with this link in the comments) is very helpful.

Jeff_F
Community Champion

@Katrina-Hess - 

Can this bullet be explained?  "replies will be limited to 1-level deep"


I am currently seeing this functionality which has three levels.

Discussion Prompt

  • Student Post (level 1 ) 
    • Fellow student or Instructor reply (level 2 ) 
      • Student response (level 3 )

---

Edit - adding image:  this shows three levels of replies.

Three levels of repliesThree levels of replies

 

mathieu
Community Participant

@Jeff_F , there is a reply button on posts, but only 1 level deep beyond the OP.  This makes no earthly sense and is nothing more than form over function.  I guess the devs did not like the look of several layers of nested replies and this was the best they could come up with.  I was testing the redesign on my course for about two days, until a student had a follow up question which I could not reply to... because there was no option to reply.  I hope that makes sense.

There has to be a better way to resolve the issue of recursive discussions.  Perhaps rather than just removing the reply button, it can extend into a private message with the context attached.  Removing the reply is going to leave the teacher having to copy the message anyway and put it into an email.  The problem here, though is that other students might not benefit from the reply.

Needless to say, I disabled the redesign.  It has some improvements, such as looking more modern, but with the missing functions, I had to go back to classic discussions.

waterrat
Community Member

I have enabled the new discussion design to give a go, but for the life of me I can't find how to add a rubric to a discussion in the new format. To be sure, it is an incredibly cumbersome and ridiculous process in the old editor, but I was able to manage it. I had hoped it would be easier (akin to adding a rubric to a Response assignment) in the new design, but it just doesn't seem to be there at all. Am I overlooking it?

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

@waterrat  Here's the thread about the Discussions Redesign and rubrics you'll want to subscribe to for updates:  Solved: New Discussions and Rubrics - Instructure Community