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Add more distinction between discussion forum posts to distinguish them from each other.

Add more distinction between discussion forum posts to distinguish them from each other.

(6)
It would be very helpful if discussion forum posts could be darker around the edges to show a distinction of the post as well as the reply to a post being more indented.  It would also be helpful if there was more space between the replies, because it can be difficult for users to separate the discussions in their mind to know which post they are in fact responding to.  A student mentioned having a hard time separating out which post is separated, and I can see how it could be hard for someone with eye problems as well.  If students could "name" their reply to the original post that would be great, as a way to mimic the thread style forums.

 

Thanks for your consideration!

84 Comments
Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team

This idea has moved to the next stage and will be open for voting among the Canvas Community, from Wed. November 4, 2015 - Wed. February, 3, 2015.

Check out this doc for additional details about how the voting process works!

bjn151
Community Member

I strongly agree that students being able to name their replies would greatly increase the usability of discussion forums.  For example, I use a General discussion forum for students to post questions akin to those they would raise their hand to ask in a traditional classroom setting.  With the current formatting of discussion forums in Canvas, it's very difficult for students to look at a glance and see if the question has already been addressed.  The ability to create a reply for the names (like the subject line of an email) would really help this and likely reduce redundancy in repeat questions asked as well as enhance the utility of the forum to students as a living resource.

ejp10
Community Participant

from one of my colleagues - A lot of discussion board assignments require a reply to someone else's posts. It can be hard to distinguish a "reply" from a "reply to a reply" in this context. More distinction between levels would make grading and posting either.

fellerd
Community Participant

Along the same lines, we need to distinguish between the "reply" link at the top of the discussion which starts a new thread within that discussion and the "reply" link at the bottom of each posted message for applying to that particular message. Use a different name for each application because currently it is very confusing for new users.

Perhaps use "start a new thread" at the top of the message list and "reply to this posting" to reply to an existing message. There is no reason that we can't be more clear here.

parsonsw
Community Member

This is the opening week of the Franklin Pierce roll out.  One constant refrain in the feedback that I am getting is the difficulty in differentiating the threads and the replies.  In a format where the threads are acting as class discussions, being able to follow a conversation is very important.  Thank you for considering this idea.

lmd5
Community Participant

BTW...We posted a facebook question to our online students through Penn State World Campus.  The number one complaint was the discussion forums.  You can see the feedback at Penn State World Campus.

lewisale
Community Champion

Thanks for the votes!

japhill
Community Member

I agree that the discussion feature could use help!!

japhill
Community Member

Basically, I find that the discussion board is missing a "layer".  There are essentially no "forums" only threads, making it difficult to return to a discussion and find a particular sub-topic within a topic.  We use the discussion board very heavily in our distance graduate level program and our students have expressed their frustration with this.

japhill
Community Member

EXACTLY what I was replying to Elizabeth (below) about!  This is a missing piece indeed!!

bjn151
Community Member

Yes!  We just spent almost an hour in a chat with Canvas this morning trying to figure out a work around.  I tried just me creating the 'forum' (via a discussion thread) and having students reply to that, but it's totally unmanageable to sort through - for me and for them.  I really hope we're able to get this resolved quickly.

bjn151
Community Member

For example, even the indentation on THIS discussion is more intuitive than the one in Canvas!

lewisale
Community Champion

Yes, I agree.  The indentation on this discussion forum is definitely more intuitive.

lewisale
Community Champion

For general discussion forums, I have started creating two separate discussion forums divided by the alphabet of their last name (A-L) (M-Z).  I have found that this reduces the size of the forums.  However, if one wants to grade the posts, because there are two discussion forums for the same topic, points would need to be added separately.  Otherwise, students will show an extra discussion forum!  Otherwise, now I am doing more small to mid-sized groups, which helps reduce the size of the forum.   I will say a positive to not having threads like Blackboard is that as the Instructor it is easier for me to show my presence to the class when I reply.  Also, I have noticed increased comments with the layout of Canvas discussions since students see more posts.  With traditional threads like Blackboard, conversations are more closed.  I hope there is a great fix that will maximize communication.

Jeff_F
Community Champion

Hello Lisa - I visited the page you shared and noted about eight comments about discussions that are negative.  From other comments it appears Penn State is currently transitioning from another LMS.

Jeff_F
Community Champion

This post has more than one idea so I am split on how to vote.

Having a repeated title for each post would be rather pointless in my view as I've experienced more than a decade of most students not renaming the default thread title when given the chance (in a different LMS).  So the pointless, repetitious titles took up space and detracted from the experience.  Good riddance!

Then again, the idea about indenting and differentiating between threads a little more has piqued my interest and can only be seen as a functional improvement.

A related note: in an archived we also spoke of accentuating replies by instructors via use of an icon, star, or other means.  

snugent
Community Champion

I agree discussions could use some improvements. Here are two feature ideas I had. Unfortunately they got archived.

" modifiedtitle="true" title="Add Subject Lines to Discussion Posts (Archived)

" modifiedtitle="true" title="Higher-level Organization of Discussions (Folders or Forums) (Archived)

I made a new feature request for the subject lines. If it gets to the voting stage please vote for it. Thanks.

thatcher_bohrma
Community Participant

another ancillary thought: the basic "Reply" field is way to small and insignificant - it needs more graphical emphasis.

jsa161
Community Member

Hi everyone - I was directed over here by some former colleagues to give some feedback regarding the Canvas discussion.  I am a part time graduate student and this is my first time using Canvas for a course.  I am fairly tech savvy, so I just hacked the css to solve a short term problem for me - which is to graduate and do well in the course.  In my graduate level course, the discussions typically go 3 levels deep (reply to a reply to a reply) and occasionally go 5 levels, so the white space indentation was not providing enough visual separation to figure out who was responding to what.  I think everyone else has already expressed similar sentiments, so I won't repeat those.  You can see my "hack" at Canvas Discussion Visual Separation » jinsungpsu using a Chrome extension to inject CSS.

allison
Instructure
Instructure

Love all of the ideas here. I don't plan on working in the Discussions area of Canvas for at least six months, so we should probably archive this idea at some point, BUT I do have a proposal for voters on this thread in the mean time.

I'd like to see your own sketches for a new and improved UI in Canvas Discussions. Feel free to base it off of user experiences you are familiar with or ideas you've picked up from folks on this thread (i.e. clear separation, darker lines, etc.). I know we're not all artists, but if if anyone on this thread wants to draw something up and post the image here, I will send you... wait for it... a Canvas sticker!

Looking forward to seeing your ideas. Happy Valentine's Day! Heart