Getting Started with Discussions/Announcements Redesign

Starting Wednesday, June 19, 2024, the Canvas Discussions and Announcements Redesign will be enabled in all Canvas courses. Instructors and students will experience a new look and feel when viewing discussions threads and individual announcements. The redesign will also add new functionality to Discussions.

Read through the article or use the links below to jump to the section of interest.

Discussions User Interface (UI) Changes

New features

Loss of Features

Change to the Order of Replies

Known Issues

Announcements Redesign

Discussions User Interface (UI) Changes

  • The toolbar is moved to the top of the page. 
  • More prominent Reply button.
  • The Edit button is moved under the three dots (more options).

Classic Discussions Post UI

Discussion post with original UI.

Discussions Redesign Post UI

Discussions post with new UI.

New features

  • @mentions: Tag members of the course. Tagged individuals will receive an email notification with a direct link to the @mention comment. 
  • Anonymous discussions: Instructors can allow anonymous student replies.
  • Reply reporting: Students can report inappropriate comments. Instructors are notified of reported replies.
  • Split screen view: Users can choose to view discussion threads inline or in a side-by-side window (split screen). Users can go between the two views. 
  • Edit history: Instructors can view all versions with a timestamp of a student’s edited reply.
  • Quote Replies: Users can quote another reply and have their comments display directly under the quoted text.
  • Role labels: Teacher and TA labels will appear next to those with the Teacher or TA roles in the Canvas course.
  • Sort: Order the high-level replies from Newest to Oldest or Oldest to Newest.
  • Mark All as Unread: In addition to Mark as Read and Unread at the reply level, Discussions Redesign allows users to mark the entire discussion thread as read or unread from the main Discussions page.
  • Count of replies: Comments with nested replies will have the total number count of nested replies visible at the first level.
  • Search text highlighted: Results of matching search query will be highlighted, making it easier for users to easily find content.

Loss of Features

The features below are available in Classic Discussions but will no longer be available with Discussions Redesign. 

  • One click Mark as Read/Unread: In Classic Discussions, users can click on the dot next to a reply to easily mark a reply as read or unread. That dot is no longer functional. Users must now click on the three ‘More Options’ dots and select the option to mark items as read/unread. This functionality was removed for accessibility reasons.
    • Update: Instructure is looking into possible solutions to making it easier to mark a reply as read/unread.
  • Edit button: The link to edit a discussion post is now only available under the three dots (more options).
    Link to edit post under three dots menu
  • Infinite levels of replies removed: In Classic discussions, instructors can choose the option for 'threaded replies'. If selected, there is an infinite level of replies allowed. In Discussions Redesign, there are only 2 levels of nesting.
  • ‘Hide deleted posts button’ removed
  • Number of replies for Group Discussions are not immediately available: Instructors must click into each group to gauge engagement levels. 
  • No grouping of threads: In current discussions, entire conversations within a thread are grouped together in boxes. There is no grouping with the Redesign, making it slightly more difficult to distinguish between conversations.

Change to the Order of Replies

In Classic Discussions, oldest replies are always displayed first and the reply order is static, solely based on the original post date and time. Any nested/child replies do not affect the order of the first level replies. 

In Discussions Redesign, newest replies display first, and the order of first level replies are affected by the date and time of nested replies. This means that the order of replies for a discussion thread can theoretically change each time you revisit the page. As nested replies are made, that will move the associated first level reply to the top of the discussion thread. 

Note: While the default order for first level replies is newest to oldest, nested replies are ordered from oldest to newest.

May 2024 update: Instructure is looking to bring back sorting only based on initial reply. No ETA.

Known Issues

  • The entire Canvas course loads within SpeedGrader when viewing a full discussion thread with Discussions Redesign. Instructure is working to resolve this bug. To reproduce this, click on the title of the discussion thread within SpeedGrader. (FIXED)
  • When marking a reply as unread, the user is brought back to the top of the page. Instructure is aware of the bug and working on a fix. (FIXED)

Announcements Redesign

Part of Discussions Redesign is Announcements Redesign. The Announcements tool has been updated to match the UI of the new Discussions interface. Most new functionality is part of Discussions Redesign. One loss of functionality within Announcements is that the Closed for Comments option is no longer available at the individual announcement level. Instructors must go to the main Announcements page to close an announcement for comments.

Questions? Contact canvashelp@stanford.edu