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In-class discussion is often a large part of face-to-face classes. Discussions can also be beneficial when teaching online as they help to facilitate conversations both student-to-student and student-to-instructor. These conversations can help students to look at a course concept from a new perspective, talk about current events related to a certain topic, or share their opinions on pieces of content you provide. A discussion could even be used to incorporate collaborative activities like peer review. There are a couple of different tools that you can use to have discussions in your online course as outlined below.




Desktop Tutorials

If you're using a desktop PC or Mac, please browse through the tutorials below to find what you're looking for.


Instructors can use the SpeedGrader feature to easily grade individual discussion submissions within Canvas. These grades automatically populate the gradebook. Using SpeedGrader for discussion posts can save you time, keep you organized, and help you provide useful feedback to your students.

Note: Make sure that you checked the “Graded” setting when creating your discussion. See the “Create a Discussion in Canvas” tutorial for more information.

Directions:

 

  1. Go to MSU Denver’s Faculty and Staff Hub.
  2. Click Canvas in the Teaching & Learning section.
  3. Log in to your Canvas account.
  4. Select the course you’d like to work in.
  5. Click Grades on the course navigation menu to the left.
  6. Hover your cursor over the name of the discussion you want to grade.
  7. Click the Options icon (three vertical dots) that appears next to the name.
  8. Select SpeedGrader.
  9. View the student’s submission. The student’s name is listed in the top right corner of the page.
  10. Enter the student’s grade in the Assessment Grade box to the right.
  11. Type comments in the Assessment Comments box if desired.
    • Note: You can also attach files and media by clicking the icons below the comment box.
  12. Click Submit.
  13. Click the arrow in the upper-right corner to view the next student’s submission.
  14. Click the gradebook icon in the upper-left to return to the Gradebook when you are finished.

Canvas has many tools that allow for student interaction and feedback. Among these is a discussion tool that allows students to interact with each other in a forum using Canvas’ Rich Content Editor. You may then provide feedback or grades to each discussion post.

Directions:

 

  1. Go to MSU Denver’s Faculty and Staff Hub.
  2. Click Canvas in the Teaching & Learning section.
  3. Log in to your Canvas account.
  4. Select the course you’d like to work in.
  5. Click Modules on the course navigation menu to the left.
  6. Scroll to the Module you’d like to add a discussion to.
  7. Click the + (Plus) button next to the name of the Module.
  8. Select Discussion from the drop-down menu.
  9. Click[New Topic].”
  10. Type a title for your discussion in the Topic Name box.
  11. Click Add Item.
  12. Click the name of the discussion you created in the module.
  13. Click Edit.
  14. Input details, prompts, and media using the Rich Content Editor (the larger of the blank input boxes). 
  15. Click the dropdown menu titled Post to and select the appropriate course(s).
  16. AttachFile if desired.
  17. Click the checkbox next to each of the Options you would like to apply to this discussion:
    • Click Allow Threaded Replies to allow students to create a series of replies under another student’s discussion post.
    • Click Users must post before seeing replies to require students to post prior to being able to read classmates’ posts.
    • Click Enable Podcast Feed to allow students to subscribe and listen to the media posts within a discussion from an external podcasting service. You will need to upload media to the Rich Content Editor for updates to be added to the podcast feed.
    • Click Graded to enable SpeedGrader for this discussion. For more information, see the “Grade Discussions in Canvas” tutorial.
    • Click Allow Liking to allow students to “like” other students’ discussion posts.
    • Click Add to Student To-do to add an ungraded discussion to a student’s to-do list within Canvas. 
    • Click This is a Group Discussion to assign the discussion to new/existing groups. For more information, see the “Set Up Small Group Discussion” tutorial.
    • Click Save.
      • Note: Once you have saved the discussion, you may click the ?Subscribe button on the right to enable/disable notifications.

After you have created discussions in Canvas or if you have a migrated course, you may want to make some edits to your discussion boards. 

Directions:

 

  1. Go to MSU Denver’s Faculty and Staff Hub.
  2. Click Canvas in the Teaching & Learning section.
  3. Log in to your Canvas account.
  4. Select the course you’d like to work in.
  5. Click Modules on the course navigation menu to the left.
  6. Scroll to the Module where your discussion is located.
  7. Click the name of the Discussion you want to edit.
  8. Click Edit in the top right of the screen.
  9. Edit the text in the title or body of the discussion post as needed.
  10. Scroll down the page to Options.
  11. Edit the Options as needed.
  12. Click Save.
    • Note: If your discussion post is not yet published and available for students to view, you will see the option to click Save and Publish. Click Save and Publish if you wish to make the discussion available to students.

You can use the Canvas Group Discussions feature to create identical discussion topics for different groups in your class. Students will only be able to see posts from other members of their group. Consider using this feature to group students by interest, create a more intimate environment by reducing the discussion group size, or implement a jigsaw activity where each small group of students learns about a topic then teaches the class. You can also use this tool to facilitate communication for group projects such as collaborative papers, presentations, or research projects.

Note: Before creating a group discussion, you will need to know how to create student groups. View the “Create Groups” tutorial for more information.

Directions:

 

  1. Go to MSU Denver’s Faculty and Staff Hub.
  2. Click Canvas in the Teaching & Learning section.
  3. Log in to your Canvas account.
  4. Select the course you’d like to work in.
  5. Click Modules on the course navigation menu to the left.
  6. Scroll to the Module where your discussion is located.
  7. Click the name of the discussion you wish to edit.
  8. Scroll down to the Group Discussion setting.
  9. Check the box for “This is a Group Discussion.”
  10. Choose an existing Group Set from the drop-down menu, or create a new one by clicking the “New Group Category” button.
  11. Click Save

 

Assign Different Discussion Topics or Due Dates to Different Groups

The Group Discussion feature can also be used to assign different due dates to different groups. You can also give an extra discussion to a group, exempt a group from a certain discussion, or assign different discussion topics to different groups, by using the “Assign to” field, described below.

Within the Discussion settings:

  1. Scroll down to the Assign setting.
  2. Click the Assign to box.
  3. Select a group.
  4. Choose the due date for that group’s assignment.
  5. Click the +Add button if you wish to give the assignment to another group.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for as many groups as necessary.
  7. Click Save.

You can use the SpeedGrader feature with an attached rubric to easily grade individual discussion submissions within Canvas. These grades automatically populate the gradebook. Using a rubric for discussion posts can save you time, keep you consistent, and help you provide useful feedback to your students.

Note: This tutorial assumes that you have an existing rubric to attach to the Discussion. If you need help creating a Rubric, see the "Create a Rubric in Canvas" tutorial.

Directions:

 

    1. Go to MSU Denver’s Faculty and Staff Hub.
    2. Click Canvas in the Teaching & Learning section.
    3. Log in to your Canvas account.
    4. Select the course you’d like to work in.
    5. Click Modules on the course navigation menu to the left.
    6. Scroll to the Module with the discussion you’d like to attach a rubric to.
    7. Click on Discussion title.
    8. Click the options icon (three vertical dots)to the right of the Published and Edit buttons.
    9. Select Add Rubric from the drop down. The Assignment Rubric Details window appears.
    10. Click Find a Rubric. The Find Existing Rubric window appears.
    11. Click on the title of the desired rubric.
    12. Click Use This Rubric.

Microsoft Teams allows you to host live video sessions that you could use to facilitate discussions in your course. You could use this tool to have real-time conversations about course content, current events, or other important topics just like you would in your face-to-face course.

Note: To view this video in fullscreen mode open in a new tab.

  1. Go to https://www.msudenver.edu/facstaff/
  2. Click Email (Office 365)
  3. Login to your Microsoft Account (MSU Denver ID and Password)
  4. Click the App Launcher button in the upper left (this button looks like 4 little squares to the left of the word “Outlook”)
  5. Click All Apps
  6. Scroll down and click on Teams
  7. Click on the Calendar on the left-side menu
    • Note: On the web browser version the Calendar will be found under More added apps (three dots). Select Calendar to open.
  8. Click Meet Now in the upper right
  9. Choose Options (i.e. slider to enable camera, slider to enable microphone, or devices)
  10. Click Join Now
  11. Click the button in the upper right that looks like a chain link to copy the “Join Info”
  12. Email the link to your students in your course (view the tutorial on sending email, if you need help with this).
    • Note: You can also type the email address in the “Invite Someone” text box in the upper right to invite a specific student

What the buttons on the screen mean:

  • Video Camera: Turn your video on or off
  • Microphone: Mute or unmute yourself
  • Share (Square with upward arrow): Share your screen
  • Three Dots: Other settings and options
  • Message Box: Opens the chat panel
  • Teams (two people): View participants in the meeting
  • Red Telephone: Hang-Up/End the meeting


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