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Community Member

Best way to organize discussions?

We are transitioning from another course management system, so I am still getting used to how Canvas does things. I would like to set up Discussions like this:

-- Have pre-defined topic areas, such as general discussion of the course, the textbook, each assignment, current events, etc.

-- Within each topic area, let students and staff create threaded discussions.

Is there a way to do this? It looks to me like all threads for a course are together; I would like something finer-grained.

Would using Piazza be better for this?


4 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @ciaraldi ​...

If you are asking if you can create sub-topics within a Discussion topic, then the answer is no.  For example, you couldn't create a general discussion topic called "Current Events" and then create sub-topics within there such as "2016 Election" or "Storms on the East Coast", for example.  The work-around might be for you to create the general discussion topic, "Current Events", and then you'd have to reply to your own topic for each sub-topic that you'd want to it would maybe look something like this:


You can set it up so your conversations are threaded when creating the "Current Events" topic.  I'm not sure this would be idea, though...because the discussions could start to get quite long.  So, instead, maybe you would want to create topics called "Current Events: 2016 Election" or "Current Events: Storms on the East Coast", for example.

To answer your other question about allowing students to create their own discussion topics...yes, this is possible.  If you look at this Canvas Guide, How do I manage the options in the Course Details tab?, you'll see a section about 3/4 down the page called "View More Options".  There is an option for "Let students create discussion topics".  You may need to monitor this, though, so students don't start creating topics that aren't relevant to the topics you are discussing in class.

Hope this helps, Michael!

Community Member

Thanks, Chris.

Bummer. I think this will quickly become unwieldy in a large class of a 100 or so. Does anyone else have any ideas? How about Piazza?

Community Coach
Community Coach

I haven't personally used Piazza, but I've seen a presentation where someone was using it (integrated into Canvas) and it seemed to work pretty well.

Community Member


I find the discussion feature of Canvas to be it's weakest tool, which is unfortunate as this interaction is so critical in fully online classes.  In a seminar I'm teaching now of 12, I'm already frustrated.  I'm interested in knowing more about Piazza if you think this will integrate with Canvas?