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Allow teachers to subscribe to a group discussion

Allow teachers to subscribe to a group discussion

Our faculty would like to be able to subscribe to the group discussions in their course so they can follow along, be alerted when a student posts something new, post feedback, and keep discussions on track.


(This was originally submitted by Brandon Pousley, but did not receive enough votes to move forward.  I was hoping this time it would get more votes.)

Community Member

The option should be available to those that will find it useful.  I know I would find it very useful and would reduce the number of CLICKS that I would have to do if I have several discussion groups.  If someone does not want to subscribe they wouldn't have to.

Community Champion

In the Canvas document about how to subscribe to a discussion, it states "You can also subscribe to discussions posted within student groups." 

Does this Canvas guide document need updating?  I had hoped that if a teacher replied to a post in a group discussion that they would be automatically subscribed but it appears not.  The subscribe choice on the group discussion index page is not available since the teacher is not a group member.

A simple solution: let teachers be group members too.  And a member of more than one group in a group set.

Community Member

At our school we have multiple teachers on some of the courses, with different groups assigned to each teacher. It would be great if, by subscribing to the group, the teacher could choose to "show the group in Groups tab" enabling the teacher to easily access all his/her groups across different courses from the Groups tab.

Community Participant

We have TAs whose job is to respond in Discussions and we use groups for Discussions. Right now our TAs can't subscribe to all the Discussions they are responsible for and that limits both the indications they have about activity in the Discussions and ways they have of tracking which posts they have responded to.

Being able to put our TAs in > 1 group in a course would be very helpful.

Community Team
Community Team

The Radar idea stage has been removed from the Feature Idea Process.  You can read more about why in the blog post Adaptation: Feature Idea Process Changes.


This change will only impact the stage sort of this idea and will not change how it is voted on or how it is considered during prioritization activities.  This change will streamline the list of ideas 'open for voting', making it easier for you to see the true top voted ideas in one sort, here.

Community Member

Nice possible idea.

The option for teachers to be group members also affects other group functions, such as announcements. Presently all get announcements for all groups (depending on their settings). If groups are spaces for students to work independently, then these announcements are not needed (whereas course announcements are) and would not be received if teachers were not members. If groups are spaces for moderated or guided learning, then assigning the relevant teachers rather than all teachers to all groups makes sense. The ability for non-member staff of a certain level to enter any group space is still required, but as members they would be able to interact as members such as to subscribe to discussions and receive announcements.

Community Member

What to "listen" for is quite contextualised, but includes

  • moderating for appropriate tone
  • ensuring students are on track and not following a red herring comment,
  • identifying when a direct request for assistance / clarification is made (students assume staff see group discussions just like course discussions)
  • identifying when student support is needed and ensuring that student-to-student support happens when something needing a response is raised and/or staff intervention is required (I am in a higher ed context where students may raise having confronting learning experiences in situ outside the classroom),
  • identifying when a critical mass of discussion has occurred / or when there is a stall for teacher contribution to add value (following research re the effect of when teachers interact and in a teachers as mentors rather than experts model)

Subscriptions would depend on context. Not only graded discussions. Maybe one or more threads are tagged as moderated (followed) and other threads are student-only, or maybe all threads are relevant such as when discussion is a learning task set to groups.

Maybe subscribing to all activity, such as in my mentoring model of teaching where students are sharing documents for learning too.

Community Member

In group discussions it is already possible to subscribe and receive notifications.

¿Does this vote refer to receiving Discussion Notifications from Groups Homepages?


José de los Santos

Community Contributor

You can only subscribe to a group discussion when you are a student. Our teachers had a course with 300 students. They split the students in groups of 10. Different teachers where then responsible for 1-6 of these groups each. To see if anything new was going on in discussions in their groups, they had to click into the discussion and then look at their groups to see if they had any unread comments. It would be better if they were alerted when someone wrote something in those group discussions.

Community Participant

I am currently monitoring a discussion in which some conflict has arisen within one of the groups. I have intervened, but would like to be able to see when the parties involved make further posts, either in response to one another or myself. At this point, there's no way to do that without logging in and searching the discussion?!?

Community Member

Mr Thomas, pls give details as to what the discussion is about. Is there a concern for safety in reference to the virus?

Community Participant

It's nothing related to health concerns. It's a discussion that touches on some elements of feminist readings of the Bible, and I have a student who is being quite dismissive of some of the female students.

Community Member

Hello Canvas community
We've just run a course with 450 students split in 45 discussion groups, with group facilitators (teachers) allocated to 3 or 4 groups each. The facilitators role is to guide discussions within each group and, as you can imagine, this is tricky to do if they're not notified of posts - the facilitators are all busy folk and it's impractical to expect them to keep logging in to check whether anyone has added to the discussion. Notifications would be the solution.

Community Champion

We have multiple Q&A discussions in a very large course (more than one course actually). Because there are so many posts, there would be pages to scroll through, so to help students we made them group discussions. The drawback is that as a teacher I am not notified if there is a new question posted.  I want to subscribe to all groups' discussions so I'll know when to go in and reply.  I don't want to be constantly looking at each group discussion in multiple courses to see if there is a new post. Yes I only have to look at the main course discussion to see if there are unread posts in any of its groups, but that still means I have to regularly remember to go look, and click on each course and its discussions to see if there's something new.

It would seem it might not be too difficult to make the subscribe button available to teachers in a group's discussion. Don't think I'd need to be a group member.  This would allow different teachers to be assigned to different groups, they'd only subscribe to the ones they're involved in. Please! 

Community Member

Can we get a little more love for this suggestion with the increase in remote learning? 

I'll be honest, I need notifications to remind me to check. And I've found small groups way better for discussion dynamics than the whole class. So why isn't this a thing?

Community Champion

This idea has been here since 2016, but unfortunately since all our votes were lost when the community changed websites, there are very few 5 star votes at this time.  Only one, then I voted, now 2.  Please re-vote this idea!

It should be an option to add teachers, TAs, and other roles to a group.

When a new group set is created, and students are to be automatically assigned, I think teachers, TAs and other roles should not be included at that time.  They should be in a special category that can be included in more than one group.

Thank you for re-voting.  I am going to try and find all the ideas I previously voted for.

Community Member

I concur with the others promoting this suggestion.

Community Member

This really needs to be a feature. In my course of 230 students, students are split into groups for a graded discussions. This feature would help instructors in our course follow and assess discussion. 

Community Member

I think this is a great idea that would allow students to get the same quality feedback with online discussions as they do in person

Community Member

As an instructor, I need certain discussions to take place in groups. In some of those discussions, students would greatly benefit from very quick replies. Being able to subscribe to group discussions would be extremely helpful.