Get Started With Discussions

Discussions can be used for asynchronous exchanges, extending and supplementing interaction in the classroom. Canvas allows for Discussions to be either graded or ungraded. See below for links to information on creating them.

Discussions can be used in a varieties of ways, for example:

  • To receive questions about content, so information that might be useful to more than one student is shared with all of them.
    • To protect privacy, instructors might receive questions by email but answer in a Discussion.
    • Questions might be crowd sourced, drawing on peer learning as students answer each others.
  • To offer oral practice in language courses.  Instructors can pose prompts through audio and video messages recorded in the rich text editor, and students can use the same tool to respond.
  • To allow students to practice skills and apply knowledge through a role playing exercise.

Sample question prompts:

  • Find a partner and assume opposing positions in a debate.  State your position in a first post, then respond in a second post to the concerns raised by your partner.
  • Identify an audience you wouldn’t normally address, and explain the concept of “_____”.  In a second post, critique someone else’s argument by responding from the point of view of his or her stated audience.
  • Post a video/article/image that offers an insight into [something you are studying].  Explain how it illustrates the concept and/or changed your perspective.
  • In response to a class session or reading, post:
    • What you found most helpful about it
    • What you found most confusing, or still need help with

Best practice for working with Discussions:

  • Canvas provides an option to require students to post before they are able to view posts from classmates.  This setting can encourage original thinking, and prevent a dominant voice from unintentionally discouraging diversity of response.
  • Discussions are listed in reverse chronological order, so whichever topic received the most recent post appears at the top.  To ensure a topic remains clearly distinguished, an instructor can “pin” it above the others.
  • Provide clear criteria for evaluation, if applicable, and examples of successful posts.