Using Canvas Discussion Boards 

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Brette D. W. Kristoff, Graduate Student – Communications Specialist, GMCTL, 

October 19, 2020

Canvas offers various communication channels designed to make your virtual learning experience more interactive and personable. 

Both your Inbox and Discussions in Canvas are useful tools for communicating with your classmates and instructors. 

Your Canvas Inbox function is an internal messaging system separate from your USask email account. Use this to communicate directly and in private with other Canvas users in your courses and with your instructors.

Discussions are specific to each Canvas course and function as online discussion boards for group work and general classroom communication. 

  • Some discussion boards are set up like forums, useful for discussing course related questions or sharing resources.
  • Discussions can be focused for group work or used for general communication with the entire class. 
    • Depending on how your instructor has designed the course . . . it may be set-up so students can initiate new discussions.
    • Inside a group home page, members can start discussions – and all other functions shown to the  right. 
  • Using Discussions may be part of your course requirements.
    • Check the course Syllabus to know which Discussions are optional and which ones are for marks.
    • You might be assigned as a group leader or moderator for a discussion, so check the syllabus or other instructions to see what your tasks are for this role.
  • Within a thread or focused discussion you can reply directly to an individual classmate, however everyone that is in the discussion group sees the post.
    • You can also attach or embed files, links, or YouTube videos. Depending on the kind of discussion and its requirements, you might even be able to do your whole post as a video.
  • Tip! Start your discussion drafts on a Word.doc. After you’ve proofread your draft, copy/paste it directly to the discussion. This way you won’t lose your work if your connection goes down when you’re in the middle of posting. It will also be useful to have a document with all your discussion contributions in one place for later use. 
    • Some Discussions might count towards your grade, and you might be graded on the quality, not just the number of your contributions. Your instructor may give you a rubric about how discussions will be graded and what qualities they are looking for in your posts.
  • Be sure to subscribe to receive notifications about new posts and new Discussions.

Remember … 

  • If you have a question, scroll through your course Discussions first to see if it’s already been asked somewhere else.

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    • It would be rude to repeat a question that has already been answered.
    • Keep your posts brief and relevant. Proofread before you post!
  • Consider your tone and remember that sarcasm and humour are often not appropriate in these types of online forums. 
    • Make sure your posts are thoughtful and organized neatly–don’t forget to include a salutation or greeting! 
    • Has your class set group norms for online communication? No? Check out this handy USask netiquette guide about interacting online.

For more support options with Canvas, see the USask Student Canvas page.

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