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Allow teachers to subscribe to a group discussion

Allow teachers to subscribe to a group discussion

(15)
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.)

42 Comments
jordan
Community Member

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Thank you for your Feature Idea​ submission! As you noted, this same idea was submitted previously, here: , in a different voting period.  It may contain valuable discussion and insight as this discussion moves through the voting process.

We also encourage you to check out this article that can help you maximize the exposure and support of your Feature Idea: How do I write a good feature idea submission

scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

This idea has moved to the next stage and will be open for voting among the Canvas Community, from Wed. February 3, 2016 - Wed. May 4, 2016.

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

laura_manns-jam
Community Member

It would be extremely helpful for faculty to be able to subscribe to ungraded discussion groups.  In our course, we use separate discussions for each module within the course, and while each student must submit a graded presentation in one module or another, it clutters the gradebook to make each of these discussions graded.  However, we instructors desperately need notifications when new posts are made, so we can tell if a student has put a proverbial bullet in the furnace or is way off course in the content they are synthesizing for other students' learning.  Thanks for considering this issue and voting yes.

kedgecomb
Community Member

I agree this is a great idea!  I have experienced trouble with instructors and group discussions, so anything to help keep things afloat would be excellent! 

tschaelen1
Community Member

Yes!  Instructors need to be able to easily join their students in group discussions, just as they do in a face-to-face setting.  We desperately need this feature.

scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

It is interesting to me how things evolve.  If I understand correctly groups were originally designed to be a space where students could go off on their own and work and then come back into the course space to interact with their instructor and other students - like going off to the corner of the classroom for group work. It sounds like, as is often the case, people are using the toolset in ways that the original designers never imagined.

Laura_Orsetti
Community Member

Admittedly,  @scottdennis  yes, but that is because we came from Angel where we could set up Teams, and cannot find an equivalent to it in Canvas.  If Canvas could do something more like Angel Teams, we'd be all over that like flies on honey!  But meanwhile, we are using Groups as best we can...

LisaCasto
Community Member

And, in K12, we have a greater responsibility for supporting students. While we love for them to collaborate, this is needed.

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @Laura_Orsetti ​, Groups is the Canvas take on Angel teams, and while a good tool it can be improved to be a great tool. As  @scottdennis ​ pointed out, this idea and functionality is evolving, just as elearning in general is evolving to become even more a collaborate learning environment in emulation of and improvement on the traditional classroom environment.

As LisaCasto​ pointed out, in the K-12 environment students need support; but I would like to add that this is also true in the Higher-Ed environment - learners are learners!

I will support this feature request which seems to be gaining better traction in its second iteration!

Agent K

allison
Instructure
Instructure

Hi Everyone,

LOVE this idea! As I think about the problem you're trying to solve here, it's analogous to walking the classroom and listening to different group conversations to find out what stage of a problem they are working on, address any questions they might have, or intervene with additional support or clarification. I can even imagine taking this one step further and allowing a teacher to subscribe to ALL of the activity in a Canvas Group.

Enhancements to Groups are not a high priority for the next six months, so I will recommend that we archive this idea for now. That said, I would still love to learn more from the voters on this thread.

  • What would instructors "listen" for if they could subscribe to Group discussions?
  • Would they subscribe to specific discussions, graded discussions only?
  • Would you ever want to subscribe to ALL of the activity in group?

Thanks for your feedback, all!

skylesa
Community Member

I had an instructor ask for this very thing just the other day. He has one student participating at a distance and wants to keep a running discussion with her. He doesn't want others to see the thread - so groups, right? Wrong! Because he can't subscribe to the discussion, he doesn't know when she posts. The instructor likes the idea of a discussion because they can begin new threads for each different topic, but it is still within the same prompt.

makraft
Learner II

I had the same request this week, too. Admittedly, most instructors will not want to get all those notifications, but they should have the ability to opt-in.

Specifically, our instructor said:

I am not finding the canvas discussion boards to be particularly useful teaching tools.

1. accessing the discussion board of a group is not straightforward - this makes it difficult to see if any posts have been made that I need to respond to.

2. I am still not notified if someone replies to an existing post. I would like to be able to follow (in the Facebook or stackoverflow sense) a thread.

curtain
Learner II

I also am in support of this feature and it's need.  I had an instructor say

So even if I post to a discussion I still don't get to subscribe?  The students have been requesting smaller discussion groups as my online class gets larger and so I thought I'd try it out this semester, but the downside is I've lost track of their discussions and some students are complaining about the "nonsense" some of their fellows are spouting online.

You are right that it needs to be the same opt-in subscribe as the others but there are plenty of cases where instructors want to know what is going on in a discussion and would like a notification of activity.   I also say yes to the 'subscribe to all group activity' because as indicated sometimes they are used to facilitate work where the instructor would like to be party to each individual sets of effort.

makraft
Learner II

I am directing my instructor to use Piazza.com - it has more flexible group and communications support. I hate sending people out to a third party tool, but it seems the shortest route for him right now.

erlend_thune
Surveyor

Our instructors at the University of Agder in Norway were used to telling their students to put a bin outside the students group room if they needed help from the instructor. They wanted a similar behavior in Canvas. One could argue that this is a better solution than having the instructor subscribe to all the group discussions, especially since an instructor might have many groups in large classes. But being able to do both things in native Canvas would of course be best.

We solved the “bin” feature using custom js/css in Canvas. It is a small piece of a larger open source custom Canvas design which is desribed here: http://matematikk-mooc.github.io/

The main javascript code for the “bin” solution can be found in this file:

https://github.com/matematikk-mooc/frontend/blob/master/src/js/modules/menu.js

Just search for showDiscussionGroupMenu in that file. The code is depending on other files in https://github.com/matematikk-mooc/frontend, but a javascript programmer should be able to extract the functionality in a smaller set of custom css/js files.

The images below is taken from a students group discussion view. When the student group needs help, one of the student presses the "Tilkall veileder" button (notify instructor). This in turn leads to the steps shown below.

binbehaviour.png

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

This is great  @erlend_thune ​!

Thank you for sharing this work-round!

It would be awesome if you could also share this with the Canvas Developers group.

Thanks again,

KLM

erlend_thune
Surveyor

Thanks Kelley! I have written a blog post in the developer group now: Notify instructor button in group discussions

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team
  Idea is currently in Product Radar Learn more about this stage...
scabbage
Community Member

I merge sections of multiple Canvas courses.  And then I limit graded discussions to section groups so that students only see posts from those in the same section and aren't overwhelmed by the number of responses.  I'd like to be able to subscribe to these discussions so that I can take a quick glance at student posts as they come in and intervene if a post is inappropriate or incorrect or comment if a student makes an interesting point.  It's just more convenient to have these come into my e-mail inbox rather than having to go into the Canvas shell and wade through all the posts every time I want to check what's new.

fervin
Community Member

This is a great idea, especially if you could choose broad discussions with fellow teachers and then narrow down to more specific classes/subjects you have in common.