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How do I create a group discussion in a course?

How do I create a group discussion in a course?

Groups are a subset of a course with a course-like environment including their own Calendar, Discussion board, and Collaboration tools. Only students added to a group have permission to see and use the respective tools within the group.

A group discussion assignment creates an identical discussion topic in each group category. When students reply to the discussion topic they do so within their group environment, which is linked to the course from which the assignment was created.

If you prefer to create a group discussion for grading, learn how to create graded group discussions.

Note: You will need to create group sets and groups before setting up a group discussion assignment.

Open Discussions

Open Discussions

In Course Navigation, click the Discussions link.

Add Discussion

Click the Add Discussion button.

Create Group Discussion

Create Group Discusison

Create your discussion by utilizing the following options:

  1. Enter your topic title in the topic title field.
  2. Use the Rich Content Editor to format your content. The Rich Content Editor includes a word count display below the bottom right corner of the text box.
  3. Click the This is a Group Discussion checkbox.

Select Group Set

Select Group Set

To select an existing group set, click the Group Set drop-down menu [1]. To create a new group category, click the New Group Category button [2].

Set Availability Dates

Set Availability Dates

To make your discussion available on a specific date or during a specific date range, enter the dates in the Available From and Until fields [7], or click the calendar icons to select dates. These dates apply to all users. By default, these fields are left blank and the discussion can be viewed throughout the entire course.

Note: These fields only apply for non-graded discussions; If you create a graded group discussion, these date fields do not apply.

Save and Publish

Save and Publish

If you are ready to publish your discussion, click the Save & Publish button [1]. If you want to create a draft of your discussion and publish it later, click the Save button [2].

Publish Course

When your discussion is saved in a draft state, you can return to the page and publish it at any time by clicking the Publish button.

View Discussion

View Discussion

View the discussion. A Teacher or TA will see links to each group. Click the group name to open the group discussion and view replies to the topic.

Student View of Discussion

When students open the discussion, they will be taken to the Discussions page within their specified project group to complete the assignment.

Note: Discussion posts cannot be made anonymously.


What do students see on their end when they go into a discussion group? Can they see a list of group members? Can they message individual group members or just post to the whole group?


HI @ziebarthm

Thanks for posting your questions! This all kinda depends on how you configure your discussions. Typically, students will only see discussion comments from other students in their group. They won't see a list of all the people in their group in the discussion, but they can view the list on the course People page (if you've enabled that in your course). They cannot message individual group members, but if you allow threaded replies, students can thread a response to another student's comment in a direct reply. 

Hopefully this helps answer your questions. If you have any other questions, or if there's anything else my teammates and I can help clarify, don't hesitate to reach out. 



Thanks so much!!

Do they see the name of the group they're in? For example, if I sort them using random groups, and the name of the first group is "Random Group 1," do they see "Random Group 1?"


Hi @ziebarthm

Good followup questions! I just tested this. No, students don't see the name of the group that they're in for the discussion. 

- Allie 

How can I as an instructor see the which students are in each group (I asked to assign groups randomly) when they haven't yet submitted?

@libermar To see who is in a group you go to People, Groups and you can look at things there. 

If I respond to a student post in a grouped discussion board, will the students in that group see it? What if I make my own post in a grouped discussion? As the instructor, I am not a member of any of the groups but can view all of them. I had a problem with this last semester and want to make sure I am doing it right this time. Thanks. 

Yes, @KendraLiddicoat when you respond in the student groups discussions, the students will see it.   It works just like a regular - full class - discussion would. Just be sure you're actively in the correct discussion/student group when responding!


I created a discussion and made it a group discussion without knowing what that meant exactly. Students are working in groups, but I'd like the entire class to see all responses. Is there a way to have the discussion seen by the entire class so everyone can see the responses. When I Edit the discussion in canvas it seems like I can un-check the box for group discussions, but after I click save nothing happens. When I edit the discussion again the group discussion box is back to being checked.


If there is no way to fix this, can I transfer the discussion info to a new discussion or something and make it so the entire class can see it? 

Once you make them groups - they are only for groups, no turning back.  The only thing you could do is add everyone into each group to see all the discussions but that's sort of a nightmare.

You cannot change group discussion to regular discussion - at least that I know of!  Maybe someone else has some experience but I just tried messing around and cannot undo the group discussion into a regular all-class discussion.

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NOT your Canvas course.

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