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Feedback Request: Barrier(s) to Adopting the Redesign

Katrina-Hess
Instructure
Instructure
3 21 2,348

Hi everyone, we have the following updates coming to Discussions Redesign. Will solving these issues in Coming Soon give you or your institution the confidence to enable the Discussions Redesign Feature Preview flag? If not, please comment (kindly) on what is missing and your specific use case.

Coming Soon

  • draft state in RCE
  • your reply appearing immediately after submitting
  • role pills visible for all roles
  • adding sort by options (Newest Thread, Oldest Thread, Recent Reply, Most Replies)
  • file attachments not showing up
  • students can report an inappropriate/harmful reply

We're also in discovery for the features below. Are any of the items listed below barriers to adopting the redesign?

In Discovery

  • expand/collapse threads in the topic page
  • synchronous features
  • limited nesting
  • anonymity features

If you are currently using Discussion Redesign for your course, we'd love to hear how it's going for you as well!

Best, Katrina

 

21 Comments
schw0814
Community Member

@Katrina-Hess 

Thank you for soliciting our feedback.  The issues that are preventing me from enabling the Discussions Redesign Feature Preview are in the In Discovery list:

  • expand/collapse threads in the topic page
  • limited nesting

 

dickson327
New Member

Hi, @Katrina-Hess -- really appreciate you soliciting feedback here. I'm a Canvas admin at a university that is fairly conservative when it comes to these sorts of changes, and the new reply navigation has been a particular sticking point.

At the moment, any plans of adopting the redesign at my institution are pending developments on the ability to expand/collapse threads in the topic page.

Jeff_F
Community Champion

@Katrina-Hess  

Sorry if this is an echo of earlier comments but the thread tray along with the limitation in reply levels will be issues.

After using the redesign for five weeks, upon reverting my course back to the standard discussion board I immediately gained a notable productivity boost as I could see everything on the same page, could immediately see what I've read, and the volume of clicking was drastically reduced.

Katrina-Hess
Instructure
Instructure

This is exactly the kind of feedback we're looking for, thanks @schw0814@dickson327@Jeff_F!   

Katrina-Hess
Instructure
Instructure

@schw0814 and please elaborate on your use case(s) for:

  • expand/collapse threads in the topic page
  • limited nesting

@dickson327 please elaborate on your use case for:

  • the ability to expand/collapse threads in the topic page

 

Thank you! Katrina

 

snugent
Community Champion

@Katrina-Hess I can't speak for the people you mentioned in your post but I think the dislike to the proposed change in discussion threads is about breaking that flow. I think most people just want an option to open and close threads directly on the page rather than breaking that flow with flyout sidebar.  In the current discussions I often use the collapse/expand options a lot because when the threads are closed I can quickly tell how many replies I haven't read. I also like the option to open/close a thread individually.  My biggest issue with the proposed flyout menu for threads is that the rich content editor gets cut off when expanded. 

My other issues with the changes made so far include the following:

Inconsistency with the display graded details - I not crazy about the current display of this information and I really don't like in the proposed redesign either. I would prefer that graded discussions had a similar view at the top of the page that assignments have. For example current and enhanced views give all the graded information at the top of the page in a consistent pattern. In the assignment enhanced view, students collapse/expand the details. That would be nice to have in discussions as well. My reason for not liking redesigned view is that the text is small and has low contrast. Students are sure to miss it. 

Rubric hidden - I've always hated that the rubric was hidden in a menu. I would like have the rubric more discoverable like it is for assignments. 

Reply used for first post - I have never liked using the word reply for the first post a student creates. I think there should be clear distinction  in language between first post and replies to other peoples' posts. 

Edit/Delete grouped as one - This all or nothing approach is not helpful. Some instructors would like to give students editing abilities but  not delete posts or vice versa. It would also great if option could be overruled in a single discussion as well. 

Better tools for marking messages as read - In the redesign I don't see where I can mark all posts as read or configure my preferences. 

venitk
Community Champion

@Katrina-Hess I think by "limited nesting" you're referring to replies only going one deep, correct? 

Here's a use case for why that may not work for people structurally, beyond that it's just generally easier to keep track of threads when you have more nesting.

We used to use D2L. In D2L, you could have open small group discussions: you assign students to a group, and each group can talk amongst themselves, but ALSO see what the other groups are up to. Or, students could self select a discussion question they wanted to discuss.

That's not possible in Canvas, so when we migrated, a Canvas trainer suggested we keep it as a whole class discussion. If there were different prompts, put all the prompts together in the discussion topic. If the instructor wanted to keep all the posts on a topic together, they should start the threads and have students reply to those threads.

So, let's say there were three prompts and students pick one prompt to respond to. If the instructor wants to keep those replies on each particular prompt together, the instructor posts three threads--one prompt each--and students pick the thread they want to respond to.

Without deeper nesting, this sort of structure doesn't work--it'll be a flat discussion and students who reply to other students could have their replies dozens of replies away from the original student's post. So basically, it would only allow for students to make one post, rather than have a discussion. 

Erin and I had a conversation related to this about why the release Q&As were moved to separate page...--because the community platform doesn't allow for threaded conversations, it makes the conversations harder to follow. If the instructor posts the parent threads, it would make all subsequent replies unthreaded. IF I understand the functionality of limited nesting correctly!  

Thank you for asking for our feedback. I'm also involved in the New Quizzes group, and I've been very impressed with how you and @SuSorensen have been managing these projects openly, empathetically, and honestly. Change is really scary for those of us on the receiving end of the changes when they have such a huge role in our day-to-day. I'm sure there will be things about both finished products that I may not like or may take some getting used to, but because I've been able to give feedback, I feel more of a partner in the process and less like change is being foisted upon me. It eases the uncomfortable process of change, regardless of the outcome.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know your efforts to involve power users have been seen, recognized, and appreciated.  

Katrina-Hess
Instructure
Instructure

Thanks, @snugent! I've logged the bug about the RCE getting cut off and will review your feedback with the team.

mcgi0084
New Member

Hi! We aren't using the new discussion yet so I'm not sure if this is the right place to put this. We've recently realized that imported Announcements don't trigger notifications to students (because they were imported into unpublished courses). 

The workflow faculty have been using is to import announcements they want to reuse into their unpublished courses, then delay the posting until the end of the course. When they want the announcement to be visible to students, they remove the delayed posting (or move the date significantly up) and save the announcement. When they do this the announcement is visible but it doesn't trigger a notification.

Is there any way to have announcements of that type trigger notifications?

Katrina-Hess
Instructure
Instructure

Hi @venitk, thanks so much for that context, feedback, and encouragement! Your use case is super helpful as we explore solutions.

Best, Katrina

schw0814
Community Member

@Katrina-Hess Thank you for following up!  We can use this as an opportunity to confirm that we're on the same page.

expand/collapse threads in the topic page - my understanding was that either expand/ collapse replies to parent posts was the only alternative to the using the thread tray to view replies to parent posts.  The instructors I work with prefer the expand/collapse button because the thread tray makes for an odd user experience with the main discussion thread being partially covered.  This didn't create a problem but it was just a preference that was expressed.  

limited nesting - right now, a user who makes a child post cannot reply to another child post unless the Quote button is selected.  We do need students to be able to communicate with each other more deeply about a topic if they wish to do so.  I'm hoping that the new discussion redesign include improved indentation with each reply.

I'm including a rather crude example, but I created a test discussion thread asking students what their favorite movie is.  I've included a screenshot of the thread tray.  I'm the teacher and Phar Course Accounts are my test students.  It's very difficult to follow along who is replying to whom:

Discussion Nesting.JPG

I hope that helps!  Please let me know if you have any further questions!

hansonav
New Member

Hi @Katrina-Hess ,

Here is a quick use case for the need for threaded discussions with multiple layers in a discussion (in addition to the example @venitk already shared as well):

Initial Post: Student A posts in a discussion and attaches their resume to the discussion.

Reply 1 (1st layer of thread): Student B replies to Student A asking practice questions that the student may encounter in an interview or conversation with a future employer based on the information that is shared on their resume.

Reply 2 (2nd layer of thread): Student A replies directly to Student B answering the questions that they posed as a simulation/practice for Student A in the future.

If the replies were disjointed from the original post, it would become really confusing for students, or wouldn't be able to see how the answers tied to the questions and tied to the resume overall. It would inhibit the peer-to-peer interaction as well as for other students to review/learn from the kinds of answers that are shared.

Thanks!

ChrisNeary
New Member

Hi @Katrina-Hess,

One change I have noticed in Discussion Boards is the sudden inability to search posts by keyword. This practice is especially important for instructors to check on posts and replies by student -- an easy check on participation. We have also recommended this function when we divide the class into pairs to discuss only what each of the students wrote. I also notice the "Unread" and eyeball buttons next to the Discussion Board search bar are now checkboxes. I have tried every combination I could  -- check one box, check both boxes, leave both boxes unchecked -- I still cannot produce a quick search of posts by keyword. Do you know why this limitation was taken away?

Best,

Chris

katevideogeek
Community Member

While I think some of it is the RCE and limited nesting and would be keen to see those resolved (along with ensuring search functionality as we have large cohorts), the bigger issue for us in adopting has been the previous and next buttons not appearing when it's embedded in a module, therefore breaking the flow for users who rely on modules for navigation/flow purposes. If this has since been resolved and I have missed that update please let me know. Otherwise we probably won't switch over until that is resolved, regardless of the other improved functionality. 

thomas_maerke
New Member

For us, it’s mostly about that sidebar as opposed to the expand/collapse of threads.

  • Scrolling from the Teacher perspective - It seems like in crafting the sidebar, the designers have decided to emphasize smaller interactions of Discussion participants outside of the context of the whole conversation. I could be wrong in that assumption, but that’s what it feels like from experience at least. The sidebar literally covers a portion of the Discussion, taking users away from the larger conversation. The expand all capability allows teachers to gain some insight into the level of engagement and the stronger voices throughout the conversation. Free-flowing engagement within a Discussion topic is only revealed by the length of the scroll, not the blue and grey boxes with numbers. Some Discussions elicit minimum engagement maybe for a score, some elicit moderate engagement and interaction, and some spark lengthy debates and exchanges. The scroll is the measure. With the sidebar, teachers and students alike have to seek out the replies with the highest number to read the exchange, to see where the “hot takes” are and where they might want to engage (or referee, as a teacher). We see value in the scroll, which the sidebar removes.
  • More clicks for students - From the student perspective, that’s a lot of clicking to open a sidebar to first attempt to choose where to engage and then to follow-up where they did engage. Increasing clicks, from our experience with students, is not an improvement but a barrier to engagement.  

Designing for small Discussions – If teachers are intent on fostering smaller conversations to avoid lengthy scrolling or overwhelming amounts of text, then they can utilize Groups and Group Discussions. I’ll acknowledge that Group Discussions may be less organic, and might feel more managed by teachers since they’re placing students in the Groups, but I would argue that Group Discussions are a great method to limit the size of conversations and plan for intentional interactions. Also, teachers can allow students to create their own Groups and to create their own Group Discussions. That is one organic solution to allow and manage smaller conversations.

boson
New Member

Hello @Katrina-Hess,

I am a student, and I have feedback regarding the Discussion forum. I originally made my post in 'Idea Conversations', and was advised by a Community team member to forward it here. Here it goes:

Show at least two lines of text from collapsed posts in the Discussion Forum

Discussion Forums are very hard to navigate and it's difficult to find relevant information among the vast number of posts posted there. One available feature to simplify this is the ability to collapse the posts so a user can easily scroll through them and find the ones relevant to him.

But this feature fails to serve its purpose, because the text prompt shown in the collapsed post is so short, that it's almost impossible to judge whether the post is relevant for the user or not.

The solution for this can be to show a longer text prompt from the post, at least the first two lines, to ensure that the user can have enough information to decide whether the post is relevant to him and if he should expand it further. 

User Role: Student

Canvas Discussion.png

 

I hope you find this feedback useful in improving the platform.

Thank you. 

lnorth1
New Member

Hi @Katrina-Hess thanks for the opportunity to comment.

Beyond the 'Coming Soon' features, what is holding us back includes: 

  • expand/collapse threads in the topic page
    • as a teacher, I need to be able to see many different posts, to draw out the discussion and identify similarities, etc.  Account level default setting options would be great, e.g. default to expand all to assist with our teaching model.
  • limited nesting
    • it is difficult to see who is replying to who (without 'quoting'; I suspect most of our students would not 'quote')
  • synchronous features
    • Does this relate to seeing a post (reply?) as soon as it is posted?  We had a small user group (about six people) and two or three wondered where their post (reply?) had gone to.  

And also:

  • Lack of account level preference as default (e.g. oldest on top)
    • Lengthy threads would not make a lot of sense to the student who drops in midweek and finds newest on top; they won't necessarily spot the option to reverse the sort order.  Account level default setting options would be great.

Additionally:

Our pedagogical model is based strongly in social constructivism, encouraging students to discuss as a group to develop their learning.  We fear this structure would create a lot of 'side discussions' (literally and figuratively) - a lot of separate conversations 'away' from the main topic.  It also makes it difficult to draw ideas from various students together cohesively. 

Too many clicks. E.g. with one set of replies open, clicking on the next set doesn't replace the flyout, it takes two clicks.  

For @Mentions - does this trigger a notification?

Drafts would be amazing!  Cannot wait for this!  (If they were able to be scheduled, like an Announcement, that would be even better!)

Thanks 😊

Kamal_H
New Member

in the new redesign is it possible for students to create a topic inside a discussion assignment just as in D2L. I really like that feature in discussions. 

kjensen2
Community Member

I would LOVE the ability to change the author of discussions. As an Instructional  Designer, if i create a course on the fly with a faculty, then I show as author and sometimes the faculty gets wiggy on this. To be able to choose which of the teachers in the course were the author would be Ah-MAZING!

 

Thanks!!

katevideogeek
Community Member

Has anyone else had trouble/concerns around the use of quotes and reporting? 

The reporting feature just seems to have a delay which is understandable (I assume the delay is similar to any experienced when using messages, etc but not sure? Its around the 15 minute mark I think?) 

The quote function seems to obscure the reply function at times and leads to some odd/confusing UX when you're dealing with replies in the sidebar such as the first reply to a thread or a reply to a reply. See below for an example, where the quote option is the only one listed but actually means 'reply' and will include the reply with a quote as part of the reply. It's a bit misleading and I found it confused me a bit so likely to confuse students I expect. 

I would really love the reply and quote options to be segregated out or the quote option to be a feature of the RCE/text editor. 

Screen Shot 2022-03-08 at 3.22.03 pm.png

Jeff_F
Community Champion

@katevideogeek  - yes, the new design provides for just one level of reply.  There is no 'reply to a reply', just the quote feature, which as you pointed out is awkward for various reasons.  For example, I find it quite challenging to grasp the sequence of the posts as they are no longer depicted in depths. And it doesn't help that the sequence of the posts are ever changing based on the recency of the initial post plus each of the successive replies (and quotes?!)?

Interestingly, after selecting 'Quote' under a reply we still see the same a 'Reply' button as when we select Reply under an initial post.