Canvas Discussions Update: Our Latest Improvements



I wanted to share a final update on the Discussions/Announcements Redesign before it becomes officially enforced on July 20th. It's been incredibly rewarding to see all the feedback and engagement over the past nine months since we announced this enforcement. We were even fortunate enough to collaborate with the University of Minnesota on a usability study, which provided invaluable insights not only into discussions but for Canvas as a whole. 

So what will be available before the redesign is enforced?

Thanks to the valuable feedback from our community and insightful conversations with our users, we've updated the sort order. Posts will now be sorted by the post date of the top-level reply, matching the legacy behavior and preventing posts from shifting order. This change will be implemented in the July 17th deploy.

We've also moved Reported Replies to its own feature option. While we believe in the value of this feature, we understand that not all will feel comfortable in having this option for users, so we want to make it an appropriate setting to allow for choice/customization. As an initial improvement, we've made the Reported Reply notification setting available to instructors in their account level notifications and not just in their course level notifications.

We're introducing an option to provide a one-click "mark as read/unread" experience. Instructors have shared that the current process added extra clicks and time to their grading workflows. To streamline this, we're adding a new button at the bottom of posts, allowing users to quickly mark a post as read or unread with a single click. This improvement will be implemented in the July 17th deploy.

Previously, the search feature in discussions would highlight text but inadvertently remove all HTML tags and styling from the original post. We've resolved this issue, ensuring that no styling is removed during text highlighting. This improvement will be included in the July 17th deploy.

You can now edit anonymous or partially anonymous discussions before a reply has been posted in the thread. This aligns with our approach to anonymity across other areas of Canvas. This enhancement was part of the July 3rd deploy.

Our goal is continued improvement to meet the needs of our users. With this in mind, what can you expect to see shortly after enforcement?

We're nearly finished with the option to disallow threaded replies. Once released, users will see a 'Disallow threaded replies' checkbox when creating or editing a discussion. We anticipate this feature will be available in the July 31st deploy.

Enhancing overall usability is our priority. In our effort to modernize discussions, we may have made things a bit too sleek. We're planning to reintroduce lines between posts to help visually distinguish them more clearly.

And there’s more we’re still looking into like adding more options to expand and collapse posts, improvements to @mention capabilities, support for custom roles pills, and more. 

As always, we value your feedback and appreciate your understanding and are excited about the future enhancements we’ll bring to Discussions.