Discussions & Announcements Redesign

Discussions & Announcements Redesign

Canvas Announcements and Discussion Redesign

Instructure redesigned Canvas announcements and discussions to include new features and options. To learn how to turn on these new features, scroll down to "How to Turn on the New Features" at the bottom of this page. These modifications include:

Related Topics: Canvas

How to Turn on the New Features

Navigate to Canvas Settings on the Course Navigation Menu [1] and then select the Feature Options tab [2].

Activate the Discussions/Announcement Redesign feature by clicking the red circle and selecting Enable from the drop-down menu [3].

Steps to enable Discussion/Announcement redesign in Canvas

Discussion & Announcement Updates

The Toolbar has been moved to the top of the Discussion and Announcement thread screens.

  • You can search posts using the Search field [1]
  • To view only Unread posts, select Unread in the post type drop-down [2]
  • You can Sort by newest or oldest posts first [3]
  • Posts and replies can be viewed Inline or in a Split Screen (posts and responses in a screen on the right of the discussion). Change the option with the View Inline/View Split Screen option [4]
  • Student replies and responses now have a time stamp [5]
Canvas Discussions Redesign


Anonymous Discussions

When an instructor creates a new discussion topic, they can choose to make the discussion anonymous. By default this option is set to "off." There are "partial" and "full" anonymous options.

The option to turn on anonymous discussions

Anonymous option example:

Students can choose to reveal their name and profile picture.

The partial anonymous option, whereby students can determine whether to reply anonymously.


Full anonymous option example:

Student names and profile pictures will be hidden.

The "full anonymous" option.


Student Settings within Discussion Settings

Instructors can allow students to create discussion posts. Select Settings (the gear icon) at the top of the Discussion page. In the Discussion Settings, select Create discussion topics in the Student Settings. You can choose to allow students Create anonymous discussion topics here as well.

Discussion options for student settings


The new format does not support threaded discussions. Additional replies to a discussion reply appear in a sidebar view. To see the additional replies, users need to click the number of replies under a discussion reply and a sidebar will pop out to see the additional replies. 

In the classic format, users can scroll through the whole discussion, seeing all of the replies at the same time as the post. Additionally, there is an option to collapse or expand all replies. The new design requires one more click to see the whole discussion and makes it difficult for instructors to find replies from a specific student as additional replies will be nested in the sidebar.

In the new format, a discussion reply can support up to one additional reply. After one additional reply is posted, users will see the "Quote" link but not the "Reply" link. Users can still reply by clicking the "Quote" link, and they will also have an option to include a quoted reply in their reply. Compared to the classic format, it is hard to tell which reply a user is quoting unless the user includes a quoted reply.

New Discussions Reply Sidebar:

The new discussions reply sidebar.
Classic Discussions Reply Sidebar
The classic (old) discussion reply sidebar.

Additional Features:

Role Labels:

Discussion and announcement threads display a label for users with TA roles and Teacher (Instructor) roles. 

Image of the administrator's name and the new role labels, which in this case are "Author" and "Teacher."
Reply Functionality: 
In the new discussions, when a "reply" button is clicked, a "reply" sidebar appears. In the classic discussions, the reply section appears under the original message.
An image showing where Discussions now displays the number of read and unread replies for a discussion entry.

When a reply includes additional replies, the number of replies is displayed, as well as the number of unread replies (specific to the user viewing the reply).

An image of the reply sidebar.

Users can mention other users in discussion replies by using the "@" symbol. Once a user types the "@" symbol, a list of people in the course will appear as a drop-down list. 

A list of Canvas users from a drop-down menu
The header for a Canvas reply that "mentions" another user.

Users can quote other replies as part of their discussion reply.

The "Quote" button as featured in a Canvas discussion reply.
At the top of a Canvas message, where users can now select an option to include a quoted reply in the message.
Reply Reporting:

Replies can be reported by teachers and students if the feature is enabled in the Discussions Settings menu. To enable the feature, the instructor can go to the Discussions main page, click the gear icon, and check "Report replies". 

Once the feature is enabled, all users can report replies. When "! Report" is selected from the Settings menu (three dots), users need to select a reason for reporting. Reporting a reply cannot be undone or cleared even by instructors.

Reported replies are marked with a red icon. The number of reports is visible.

The summary of report types highlighting the number of reports a particular reply has.