Teacher Feedback on Discussions Redesign

Community Explorer

At Umeå University (Umu) we have enabled the Discussions/ Announcement preview to allow it on course level in Canvas. We (Canvas Admins) then encouraged our teachers via our internal e-learning community to test the new redesign and give feedback.

Here is a summary of priority actions for further development:

(1) Reply sidebar & accessibility
There are mixed opinions regarding the comments moving to the sidebar. It's a great feature to be able to show/ hide comments but an important factor to consider, however, is how it's done and how it affects accessibility. This quote highlights the problem:

"I think it is really bad that all comments end up in the sidebar. It feels like it goes completely against the idea that you should have a discussion and interact with what others write. I myself have some reading difficulties which i.a. means that the layout of the text is very important for how easy it is for me to take in written information, and having the "central" text standing in a rather narrow column at the edge of the page makes it much harder for me to keep up. I can imagine that it can also be problematic for students with reading difficulties / neuropsychiatric disabilities. It also does not seem that it is possible to adjust the width of the sidebar, so if there is a slightly longer answer, you need to scroll up and down a lot.

I think it's a good idea to be able to switch between just seeing the main posts and also seeing all the answers, but it does not work in the current way. Why not make a similar version as in Teams, where you can expand / hide comments, but that they are then visible below the post, in the middle of the page, where the rest of the text is? It feels much more natural."

2) @mention notifications
When testing the new @Mention feature the person being tagged didn't receive any notification about this in Canvas except for under "View Course Stream" (which is not a very commonly used feature). A better notification feature of the mentioning would be if the tagged user could receive a notification symbol on the Course Home Page, the Dashboard on the course card and on Discussion in the Couse Navigation - which indicates that there is an unread event.


Overall, we think it's good that the rework is done, several have complained regarding the current design meaning that it's difficult to get an overview of comments due to poor indexation. The new design is better in that way. Also, the new functions for anonymous posts is also very much longed for and appreciated.

Best regards, 
Julia and the team at Umeå University, Sweden