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Canvas Discussions: Why so difficult?

I am so frustrated with the discussion boards!  Why isn't their a sort option?  Why can't we reverse order them?  Why can't I, as an instructor, pin my response to the top?  The discussion board is so clunky; I also find that the replies are not off-set enough.  Is there a way to just view a thread?  I'm just trying to manage a discussion of 25 grad students today and finding it increasingly frustrating to sort, even along topics, or I would really like to Hey Brenda, Fred, and Alison, You all had the same issue with this's what I have to say.

Please someone confirm that the long-promised changes to the discussion boards are in development.

5 Replies

I haven't heard anything about long-promised changes to the board. Has that been mentioned in the Canvas Community? 

We're currently looking for 3rd party tools to replace the discussions. It's a long process for us because anything we find we have to run through our state's university LTI process, which may not approve the tool. However, one that I'm really excited about is Hypothesis: Using the Hypothesis Collaborative Annotation Tool in Canvas . It won't replace all or even many of our discussions, but I can think of a few that would really benefit from doing text annotation instead of discussion. 

So, I agree, I wish the discussion tool were easier, but I'm excited about some of the things we've found to cut back on that use. 


For we would love a discussion channel that was more like slack or teams.  Or a channel that integrates in an lti 

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello there,  @kontrse ...

I'm not sure if you are a Canvas admin or not.  If you are, there is some CSS code that you could add to your global CSS file that would help to indent discussion threads so that looking at the conversations that take place in those discussion topics is a bit easier.  If you are not a Canvas admin, you might want to reach out to the person who is at your school to see if he/she would be willing to add the CSS code to the global CSS file.  Here's a great blog from  @ephraimross1  that describes what it is and how to implement it: Improve Threaded Discussions with CSS.  This blog is in the group here in the Canvas Community.

I hope this resource will be of help to you, Stephanie.


I agree that the Canvas Discussion features do not meet my needs.  I use the discussion board as an interactive study guide.  I post a large number of questions, and students are required to answer 1 question each day.  I track use weekly and grade based on participation.  I need to be able to quickly determine how many posts each student makes each week.

In Blackboard (our old LMS) I could search all posts made in a date range and then sort the return results by last name.  In the previous LMS (WebCT) I could track student discussion board use with a tracking feature.  I don't know what to do with the Canvas system.  I do not see anyway to grade my students other than scrolling through every discussion manually and tallying student responses.  That is not going to work for me.  - HELP

Hi Kathy, your mention of WebCT suggests that you may be at UToronto. If so, you can use PeppeR as a riche discussion tool. It was created at OISE and has all of the features you suggest. It is also intergrated into Quercus (you have to move it up the navigation menu).