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Community Member

Suggestions so that I do not have to work overtime asking about Canvas and how it should work

1. Why in Discussions cant the last reply show up first (why do I have to scroll so much?)

2. Why in Canvas Discussions can't one put a TITLE/SUBJECT on a reply so one can see the subject of a reply so not have to SCROLL so much

3. Why in Slow grader (Speedgrader)  if one has 100 students and 2 things ot grade one has to KEEP ON CLICKING . Why can't the two needing to be graded show up without having to click thru all the names who have not pkaced a entry?

4. Why if I read and grade a discussion reply in SPeed grader doe sit not become marked as read instead of me having to do back to DIscussions and read it again and then mark it as read?

5. Why dont the designers at CANVAS look at OTHER ONLINE PLATFORMS FOR COURSES such as SAKAI and BLACKBOARD for best practice ideas

6. Why is there so much white space and scrolling in CANVAS?

7. Why is trying to get an idea of best practice so onerous as that one has to get a COMMUNITY to VOTR on it ar SCROLL and FIND similiar ideas ETC instead of having the people on the phones Help desk ) gather them as clients call in with problems  (This separtae site and typing takes away from me and my work which is not being a CANVAS expert  What the heck? I do not understand IN A PLACE etc

8 Replies
Community Team
Community Team​, you certainly have asked quite a few "why" questions! Please be aware that the Find Answers​ space is meant for members of the Canvas Community to address their "how-to" questions. The participants in this forum are, for the most part, not Instructure employees (although one will weigh in from time to time).

Having said that, I'd like to address some of the "how-to" questions that are implicit in a few of your comments.

With regard to #3, have a look at the SpeedGrader settings. You'll see that you can order students' assignment submissions according to your personal preference, so that ungraded assignment submissions will float to the top of the list. Please refer to How do I sort Assignments in SpeedGrader? for additional instructions.

Also, your implicit assertion in #7 is not entirely accurate, in that data for implementation of feature ideas are collected from a number of sources, and not exclusively from the Canvas Feature Ideas​ forum. I'd invite you to read​'s recent blog post on this very subject: The Canvas Community: How Does the Feature Idea Process Work?​  and his comprehensive evaluation of the implementation process in Ideas come from many sources.  Last, I can tell you that our school carefully evaluated and conducted live pilots of other learning platforms, and we chose Canvas. With five years' perspective on the decision, and without casting aspersions on any other LMSs, I would choose Canvas again--in a heartbeat. Our experience has been that the responsiveness of the product and design teams is unparalleled as well as considerate and thoughtful.

I'll leave it to another Community member to comment on the other "why" questions. And, since this is not a question that is designed to elicit a single "correct' response, I've changed the format of your post to a discussion; I've also added some tags to enhance its visibility in search results.

Community Coach
Community Coach


In addition to the information that stefaniesanders​ has given you, I'll try and give my thoughts on a few of your items:

1. Why in Discussions cant the last reply show up first (why do I have to scroll so much?)

In my opinion, this may be a matter of personal preference.  While you may want new replies to appear at the top, not everyone will.  There are a few discussion boards (not Canvas related) that I frequently visit, and they are all set up where the newest posts are always posted at the bottom (or at the beginning of a new page if the posting limit of 25 replies per page, for example, has been met).  This may be a setting that the admin of that particular discussion forum has set up for the website.  Or, in some cases, the admin may let the end user choose how he/she wants forum messages displayed.  I did a brief search here in the Canvas Community, and I came across these two Feature Ideas:

(archived due to a lack of needed votes within the three-month voting period)

(currently open for voting until the beginning of May)

You'll note that in the Feature Idea which is currently open for voting,​ indicates that Ctrl+Home and Ctrl+End can be used to quickly get to the top/bottom of the page.

2. Why in Canvas Discussions can't one put a TITLE/SUBJECT on a reply so one can see the subject of a reply so not have to SCROLL so much

This is another Feature Idea that has been of interest to people, and here are some past and current links for you to view:

(archived due to a lack of needed votes)

(archived due to a lack of needed votes)

(archived with feedback from Instructure)

(currently open for voting until the beginning of June)

6. Why is there so much white space and scrolling in CANVAS?

Can you give an example or two of where you are seeing white space and lots of scrolling?  The white space issue (if you are seeing lots of it on the right hand side of your screen) may be because of the screen resolution on the computer you are using.  For example, with a wide screen monitor, I would expect to see lots more unused space on the right side of my screen as compared to an older monitor displaying 1024x768 resolution (we still have some PCs running this resolution in our classrooms because they are connected to LCD projectors).  As for the scrolling issue...without being able to look at your Canvas instance, this is hard to troubleshoot.  Is there a lot of content on the page?  That would be a curriculum/design choice by the school and/or instructor of the course on how much content is displayed on the page.  Or, is there something else that is causing a lot of unnecessary scrolling?

Hope this information is helpful to you, Kenna.

Community Member

But what if you have 100 students or more?

That's a good question,​. I've successfully taught and facilitated fully-online classes with over 100 students. I gather from your initial prompt that discussions are a pain point for you. Have you considered using groups for your graded discussions? They will be easier for you to manage, and far easier for your students to navigate. Here are resources that will help you create groups and group discussions:

How do I create a new Group Set?

How do I automatically create Groups in a Group Set?

How do I create a Group Discussion for my course?

Some teachers have found it helpful to make bookmarks for each group in a course so that they can check in on the groups' activity.

Also, after my earlier post, I realized that I neglected to describe my workflow for your question #4. You're right that when you grade your students' discussion posts in SpeedGrader, they are not automatically marked as read in the discussion itself. And, if you're like me, you want that "unread posts" badge next to each topic to go away. Smiley Happy The good news is that you don't have to scroll through the discussion again to read the posts again; just navigate to the discussion (and you can do that directly from the link to the discussion topic in SpeedGrader), click on the gear sprocket icon to the right of the discussion title, and select "Mark All as Read" from the dropdown.


I'd like to inject just a bit of my pedagogical approach to course design, for what it's worth. I teach writing-intensive courses, so I create the "meat-and-potatoes" writing assignments in my courses as the "Assignment" type, and limit submissions to file uploads of the .doc, .docx, or .pdf type, so that I can assess my students' work using comprehensive rubrics, Turnitin (for plagiarism detection and annotation), and Crocodoc, which is built into SpeedGrader. I deploy discussions in order to foster student-to-student engagement, but I do so judiciously, because I feel that my students approach their writing assignments more mindfully when they are tasked with creating them as documents. And I also create a grading scheme that makes discussions a less consequential part of the final grade; I like students to interact with one another, but at the end of the day, I mainly want to assess their comprehension, researching, critical thinking, and writing skills, and the tools associated with SpeedGrader are invaluable in that regard.​ has given you some great links to feature ideas, some of which are currently open for voting, so you can add your feedback, descriptions of your use case(s), and votes as appropriate, and I hope I've been able to help with some of your teaching and facilitating issues. By all means, post back if you have more questions!

I have found that discussions are better if there are lots of students, It means for more input and a ,ore dynamic vibe. But that means that I should be able and the students should be able to know what the topic/subject is off the reply is and by pass it if they do not want to reply to that particular post. reply. So one discussion post from me (say something about Creation Myths and the diff between Science and Religion) could create (hopefully as they did in SAKAI) over 100 replies and that is good. Becaus e in a class that has only 25 students I find there are always students who drop out, or do not discuss something, so that leaves less students and hence people are less prone to getting passionate about a debate​, I'm glad I could be of help. For my part, I like knowing that students have to read and analyze the body of the post in order to discern the topic and decide whether or not to reply to it, rather than being able to glance at the subject line and moving on to the next post. But I can see a need for subject lines as a matter of personal preference, and I hope you'll add a description of your use case to the conversation currently underway in the feature idea for subject lines in discussion posts to which Chris linked.

Please feel free to continue post your specific "how-to" questions about Canvas, as they arise, here in the Community; that's why we're here!

Thanks for all the input. I appreciate this. It is more than calling canvas or my college has taught me. As fo rmy sort of teaching, the discussions are not about writing but commenting on current anthropologically oriented issues and so are presented in a vernacular that is informal . It is designed for discussion as if it were voiced in a classroom.

Community Member


Thank you for your post here; I agree that the discussion tool needs to be strengthened and having the ability to assign a subject would help in that regard.  I didn't realize that this was up for a vote - I've just voted yes.  Thanks for bringing this up, and to the members who provided information.