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Threaded Discussions

Threaded Discussions

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My institution turned on the Beta version of discussions and consequently all threaded discussions vanished with no way to re-enable. I reset to the legacy and the ability to thread returned. This has to be a bug -- unless there is a workaround with instructions to be published. But then I am seeing poor design practices everywhere theses days -- please escalate -- this isn't a NEW idea.

Barb Filkins

Focused Discussion

Focused Discussion (default setting) enable a single response and replies to that response. A focused discussion is fairly easy to follow;however, it can be difficult for students to show who they are responding to in the discussion.

Threaded Discussion

Threaded Discussions enable infinite nesting or threading of comments, so that students can branch off into various side discussions. This also makes it easier to see who the students are respond to and communicating with in the discussion. The threads can be open and closed for easier viewing as well.

Community Team
Community Team
Status changed to: Open for Conversation

Thanks for sharing this idea, @barbara_filkins . We will move this conversation forward for broader discussion. However, please know that in the second phase of the rollout, threading in Discussion Enhancements has been limited to one level by design. Please read through the product manager's blog posts at  Discussions Redesign Early Access  and join the  Discussions/Announcements Redesign to learn more about the rationale behind this design decision and add your feedback directly to those discussions.

Community Member

Thanks for the response.

As far as limiting replies to one level by design -- well -- Canvas has just deprecated discussions to no more than mebbe an effective Q&A UNLESS there is another mechanism in place to accomplish the same thing. It makes absolutely no sense. It's hard enough to invite on-line discussions without this type of limitation.

If it's a step that needs to be done to enable to tracking responses by date, I can see it but then don't roll out a limited product -- even in Beta.

One way to limit discussions that go too deep is have the instructor be able to set the level. If Canvas needs to limit the levels for functionality purposes, then set a reasonable depth -- 10 might be a good number -- or survey your users. But allow the option.




Hi @barbara_filkins, thanks for sharing your use cases. This is very helpful! Sharing your feedback with the team as we explore solutions.

Best, Katrina 

Community Participant

I would say the MINIMUM for threaded (indent) levels should be three (parent, reply to parent, reply to reply). I often ask my students to 

  1. make an initial post to the discussion topic
  2. reply to at least two others
  3. respond to what others say to you or what others have said to the first post (thus the third level down in a thread)

Perhaps this is why the ability to "quote" the post one is replying to is an added feature? Is this "quote" option really easier/better than a true threaded structure? At least, if "quote" is going to be used, allow the user to edit just how much of the quoted post they are concerned with (some posts can be quite lengthy)

It really helps maintain context to a discussion when we can easily see who is replying to whom once a given thread gets several posts in length.

Community Participant

I'm going to register here the same thing that I've mentioned in a few other places. Using the slide out tray for drilling into discussions is not only unintuitive, it goes against all UX conventions, and having to drill down into each level of response is quite frankly really really really bad interaction design. There is no perceivable precedent for this. There is no perceivable value in it. Most importantly, there has been absolutely no justification offered for this design choice. As I noted over onI now HATE Canvas!, basically all other online communication tools (e.g Facebook, Quora, Twitter, Reddit, Discord, and every discussion forum software I've ever seen) are vertical, and there are good reasons for this. I asked about the rationale or justification for this design choice at InstructureCon last week in the chat and my question was ignored. Incidentally, every time I asked a critical question during the Canvas Higher Ed session it was ignored. The only question that was answered was one where there was happy news.

I'm saying all of this as someone who likes most of the things about the direction that Discussions Redesign is going, but as a former UX designer and researcher who is currently a DE coordinator needing to figure out how to train my faculty on using UI whether it's good or bad, this choice is frankly infuriating. It looks suspiciously like the UX designers at Instructure thought, "Hey, we have his slide out tray that we use for other things in Canvas, let's just copypasta that code into discussion for threading!" without running the idea by any actual users. I strongly urge you to conduct a large scale survey of both people in the Discussions/Announcements Redesign group and users outside of it to evaluate whether or not they want this feature to work this way. As a UX designer, there's absolutely no way I would've implemented this feature without doing that step with mock-ups before implementing it in beta, but that ship has clearly already sailed.

In the future, please save both yourselves and your users a whole lot of pain and heartache by ensuring that a feature which profoundly impacts the user experience is fully vetted as a concept or prototype before dropping it in Beta.