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Subject  Lines for Discussions

Subject  Lines for Discussions

(9)
I created a similar suggestion about six months ago. I figured I would try again since there is renewed interest in making discussions more user friendly.

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

 

So here is what I think subject lines would do for discussions.

  • Instructors and students could at glance see what threads interest them for further viewing.
  • Adds distinction between threads
  • Makes the discussion topic more organized
24 Comments
Jeff_F
Community Champion

I'd have to give this particular suggestion some thought as it has been my experience of more than a decade of online teaching that most students do not edit the default subject line of a discussion reply.  No matter how much it was encouraged, the default title remained.  It was overly redundant and in my opinion decreased the utility.  Also, a subject line would be needed if a tree view were available, but I do not see this type of view in Canvas.

This is not to say I disagree that improvements are warranted to better distinguish threads, but I am not sure this is helpful...

Tree-View.png

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. March 2, 2016 - Wed. June 1, 2016.

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

wakimsu
Community Member

This is a great idea! I agree with all the comments in the previous version of this idea. It is very difficult to see the distinction between each post in a forum. This makes reading discussions very difficult for me; they just seem to scroll forever.  This get particularly laborious in larger classes. I've tried the collapse button and that works OK, but is quite clunky. This is a much better solution. What I would love to see is if the top of each original post to the discussion had a title that was highlighted somehow (bold, grey background, etc).  Then, all the responses to that post would be nested underneath. You can clearly see when there's a new post because of the title.  Right now there is a small space that is rather difficult for me to see. The title would also clean up the collapsed view because it could be what's visible just under the name.  This would be very helpful!!!

arovner
Community Contributor

Susan,

Thanks so much for re-posting this!  You saved me the trouble.  We are sharing with our faculty because this is a much requested change and hope to get over 100 votes.

Best,

Amy

Laura_Orsetti
New Member

This would be hugely helpful for us!  We came from Angel, where we used the forums heavily and had great interactions on there, with students using proper subject lines more as the default than the exception (we were quite adamant about it with them).  Coming to Canvas - the discussions were greatly lacking in functions compared to what we had before (probably one of the few things we actually liked better in Angel), and this has been an ongoing issue for us.  I really hope it moves forward.  I have many more wishes for the discussions, but this is one step in the direction we'd like to see.

nicole_lassiter
New Member

Vote up! This is an important organizational detail for both faculty and students to stay on top of discussions, and not miss important posts.

Nicole

emma_bagg
New Member

This would be helpful also when creating a discussion where the instructor wants to have sub-questions.

tromblcm
New Member

Yes, we need this!

mintzjl
New Member

Very helpful for students searching for responses to questions they may have that have already been answered!

cwruck
Instructure
Instructure

Hey folks,

This isn't something we're going to be able to do in the near future. We understand the convenience that this could provide, but it's outside of the scope of what we can reasonably accomplish at the moment.

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

It's pretty disappointing that the format of discussions is outside of scope right now. We are constantly reminded about how important peer-to-peer discussions are in online classes. The current format is discouraging.

Jeff_F
Community Champion

I've been using the current format for two years and it is working quite well in my opinion.  Once I reworked my process and I had a much better outlook.  Oh, and as I previously noted, the redundant response titles aren't being missed one single bit.  Not one iota, not even a dot.

Of course, I retain my not so secret pet peeves to include the lack of differentiation between instructor and student posts (can we please have a star or emphasized avatar next to instructor names?) which is quite an issue in MOOCs with multiple instructors.

druker_stephen
New Member

This is a much needed improvement for Canvas. I hope to see it in the future. Other improvements that are need are:

  • discussions with multiple topic areas.
  • an auto-generated "reply to" line when students respond to a post (on long threads it gets difficult to see who is talking to whom).

I think the fact that some people see this as un-needed has more to do with the type of discussion assignments they use and how they are graded. If you have a very focused discussion prompt and everyone is replying to the same prompt than often times no subject line is needed. If you have a more varied prompt where students can choose among options than a subject line becomes very important to keeping the discussion organized.

In the meantime, in case anyone is interested, I handle a lack of both these things by having students include them at the beginning of their posts. So far it seems to be working. Here's an example of the kind of instructions I include:

How To Post. At the beginning of your post you should include the information in the chart below before the body of your post (each of these is explained below the chart). This will keep our discussion area easier to navigate for everyone. If your post does not include this information, it may not be graded.

New PostReply to a Previous Post*
What to inclueTOPIC:
TITLE:
TOPIC:
TITLE:
REPLY TO: _________
ExampleTOPIC: Chapter 1 (General)
TITLE: Longevity and the Psychosocial Approach
FOR GRADING: YES
TOPIC: Chapter 1 (Focused)
TITLE: Resilience and Community Support
FOR GRADING: YES
REPLY TO: Maria Xavier

* When you are replying to a post, simply copy the topic and title from the post you are replying to.

peeksas
Community Member

It could be that people are simply using it differently than you and what works for you does not work for many others. As you can see from my screen shot, my students create their own threads and then students can go into those threads (if the subject line interests them) and chime in with or without the same subject line of the original poster. Since my students are required to make 2 original posts and 5 replies, it is literally cringeworthy the discussion board capability of Canvas compared to other learning platforms. Notice that nothing has changed in a year and a half for a feature that every other learning platform has.

279544_Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 1.58.04 PM.png

SHEBENE
Community Champion

This is a great one. We've often lamented about the lack of a subject line for postings. Telling students to make their first sentence more of a title only helps a little. This is overdue IMHO. Thanks for reproposing it snugent

cholling
Community Champion

Yesterday I read an article (Pelz, B. (2004). (My) three principles of effective online pedagogy. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 8(3), 33-46.) that yesterday's Higher Ed newsroom linked to. One of the things that caught my attention was the author's guidelines to his students that subject lines count for something. He used criteria such as: they can be no more than 10 words and must summarize the main point of the comment being made. These two points require that the author demonstrates a clear understanding of the comments he/she is presenting, and it allows the readers to begin to form an idea in their heads of what the essence is of what they will be reading.

I had never much considered subject lines in discussions, although I attend to them in email, but I liked this approach.

brent_scholar
Community Member

This is a necessity to aid in organizing forums. For instance in a general question forum how can we ask students to review them to see if their question topic has been addressed already if it is not easily identifiable? This includes good separation between threads. I am new to Canvas and not impressed with the discussion thread area thus far.

Renee_Carney
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.

langlet
New Member

The lack of a subject line complicates my life, creating so many additional hours of work every semester because I just can't use Canvas for my class's discussion forum. I have to go someplace else where I must recreate the entire forum every semester. 

For me therefore, Canvas is worthless for purposes other than giving tests.