How do I view Discussions as an observer?

The Discussion Index page allows you to view all the discussions within a course.


  • Your student's teacher may choose to hide the Discussions link in Course Navigation. If the Discussions link is not available, you can still access Discussions through other areas of Canvas.
  • This lesson shows how to view the classic Discussions interface. If your discussions don’t look the same as what’s shown in this lesson, please view how to view Discussions Redesign.

Open Discussions

Open Discussions

In Course Navigation, click the Discussions link.

View Discussions

View Discussions

Discussions are organized into three main areas.

Discussions [1]: These are current discussions within your student's course. Discussions are ordered by most recent activity. You will only see this section heading if there are discussions within this section.  

Pinned Discussions [2]: These are discussions that your student's teacher wants you to pay specific attention to and will appear at the top of the Discussions page. You will only see this section heading if there are discussions within this section as designated by your student's teacher.    

Closed for Comments [3]: These discussions have been manually closed for comments, or the discussion is past the available from/until date. These are discussions that are only available in a read-only state and are ordered by most recent activity. You will always see this section heading, even if there are no discussions within this section.

View Individual Discussion

View Individual Discussion

Each discussion displays whether or not it is a graded discussion [1], the name of the discussion [2], the date on which the last discussion reply was posted [3], the due date (if any) [4], the number of unread/total posts in the discussion [5], and whether or not you are subscribed to the discussion [6].

You can also view availability dates for individual discussions [7].

An unread icon next to a discussion indicates an unread discussion [8]. The number of unread/total posts will not appear for group discussions and discussions that have no discussion replies [9].

There will also be a peer review icon if a graded discussion has been assigned peer reviews [10].

View Availability Dates

The first dates you may see are the availability dates. Your instructor may use availability dates to restrict discussion replies to a specified date range. The availability dates are the range of time that the discussion is accessible to you. Availability dates also appear on the Assignments page for all discussions with assigned availability dates.

  • If the discussion does not have a date listed, the discussion is open; you can reply to the discussion at any time during your course [1].  
  • If the discussion says Not Available Until [date], the discussion is locked until the specified date [2].
  • If the discussion says Available until [date], you can reply to the discussion until the specified date [3].
  • If the discussion is in the Closed for Comments section, the discussion cannot accept submissions [4]. Discussions in this section may show a "Was locked at [date]" to indicate when the discussion was closed for comments [5].  

Note: If the listed date is set to 12 am the last day for the assignment to be submitted is the full day before the listed date. For instance, if an assignment is Available until December 15, you can access the assignment until December 14 at 11:59 pm.

View Due Dates

The second set of dates are the due dates for each respective discussion [1]. However, due dates only apply to graded discussions. Any replies to discussions after the due date are marked as late; your student's teacher may deduct points for late replies. You can still reply to late discussion before the Available until date.

Please be aware that the Due date may be before or on the Available date. 

Due dates also include a time [2]. If your student's instructor does not set a due time, the listed date displays the course's default due time.

Filter Discussions

There are a few ways to filter Discussions:

  • View All or only unread discussions by selecting an option from the drop-down menu [1].
  • Search for a discussion by typing a discussion title, a user name, or a keyword in the Search field [2].
  • Change the discussions settings to manually mark posts as read by clicking the Settings icon [3].

Open Discussion

To view the details of a discussion, click the name of the discussion.

View Open Discussion

As an observer, you can only view discussion content. You cannot reply to discussions.

Note: The Discussions page supports keyboard shortcuts. To view a window with a list of keyboard navigation shortcuts, press Alt+F8 (on a PC keyboard) or Option+F8 (on a Mac keyboard) simultaneously on your keyboard.

View Graded Discussion

View Graded Discussion

If your discussion is a graded discussion, you can view the discussion the same way as regular discussions with additional information:

  • Graded Discussion details [1]: points and due date for the graded discussion, if any. Not all graded discussions may have a due date.
  • Rubric [2]any grading criteria that your student's teacher has provided for the graded discussion. A graded discussion may or may not include a rubric. You may be able to review the discussion rubric.

If your student misses the due date, they may be able to submit a reply to the discussion before the last day of the course. If the graded discussion does not have a due date, your student can submit a reply any time before the last day of the course.

View Discussion with Required Replies

View Discussion with Required Replies

If you are unable view responses from other students, your student may be required to make a reply before you can view them. Once your student replies to the discussion, any other replies will be visible.

View Locked Discussion

View Locked Discussion

When a discussion is locked, you can't view any details in the discussion topic. However, you can view the date when the discussion will be open.

View Closed Discussion

View Closed Discussion

Both graded- and non-graded discussions can be closed at any time. Your student's teacher may note in the description topic or syllabus if a discussion is only scheduled to be available for a specific period of time.

When a discussion has been closed for comments, you can still view the details of the discussion topic and any replies.

The discussion was either available until a specific date, or your student's teacher manually closed the topic.