Discussions in Canvas

As an instructor, you can add discussions and modify discussion settings on the Discussion Index page, which allows you to view all the discussions within a course. Discussions can be graded or ungraded.

Create a Discussion

  1. In Course Navigation, click the Discussions link.

  2. Click the + Discussion button.
    Discussions page header with the + Discussion button highlighted.
  3. Add a title for your discussion in the Topic Title field [1].
    Create a Discussion page in Canvas with various areas of the window referenced with numbered stamps.
  4. Use the Rich Content Editor (the RCE) to add discussion content [2].
    • The Rich Content Editor includes a word count display below the bottom right corner of the text box [3].
  5. If you want to create a section-specific discussion that is not graded, click the Post to drop-down menu [4].
    • You can select one or multiple sections.
    • To create a graded section-specific discussion, use the discussion options.
  6. To add an attachment to your discussion, click the Choose File button [5].

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Add Discussion Options

By default, discussions are created as focused discussions.

Screenshot of the New Discussion Options setting with various options for selection highlighted.

  • To create a threaded discussion, click the Allow threaded replies checkbox [1]
  • To require users to reply to the discussion before they can see any other replies, click the Users must post before seeing replies checkbox [2].
  • To enable a discussion podcast feed, click the Enable podcast feed checkbox [3].
  • To allow students to like discussion replies, click the Allow liking checkbox [4].
  • To add an ungraded discussion to the student to-do list, click the Add to student to-do checkbox [5]. Student to-do items display in the course calendar, in the student-specific List View Dashboard, and in the global and course home page to-do lists. Graded discussions automatically display in a student's to-do list.
  • To make the discussion a group discussion, click the This is a Group Discussion checkbox [6].
  • To make your discussion available on a specific date or during a specific date range using availability dates, enter the dates in the Available From and Until fields [7], or click the calendar icons to select dates.
    • If you create a graded discussion, the Available From and Until dates can be set in the Assign field.
      • Before the Available From date, students will only be able to view the discussion title.
      • After the Until date, students can view the discussion topic and all responses but cannot add or edit any responses.

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Create a Graded Discussion

To create a graded discussion, click the Graded checkbox. If this option is selected, additional options will be added to the page, where you can assign graded discussions to everyone, individual studentscourse sections, or course groups.

Note: If you want to create a graded discussion and you have added sections in the Post To field, the Graded option will be unavailable. You must remove the sections from the Post To field before selecting this option. You will be able to add sections as part of the graded discussion options.

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Enter Grading Details

Enter the number of Points Possible [1].

Select the Grading Type [2] and Assignment Group [3], and assign Peer Reviews [4], if any.

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Assign to Everyone, and Edit Due/Availability Dates

By default, Canvas will assign your graded discussion for everyone in your course, but this can be changed in the Assign to field [1].

In the date fields, add your preferred date(s) with the following options:

  • Due [2]: Set the date and time that the graded discussion is due. The due date will already be populated for you if you created a discussion shell, but you can change it if necessary.
  • Available From [3]: Set the date and time when the discussion will become available.
  • Until [4]: Set the date and time when the discussion will no longer be available.


  • If you have set section override dates in your course, you may need to select a course section and set due and availability dates that fall within the section override dates
  • Beneath the Due Date and Availability Date fields, Canvas will display the time zone date and time according to context. If you manage courses in a time zone other than your local time zone and create or edit a due date for a discussion, the course and local times are displayed for reference.

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Save and Publish

If you are ready to publish your discussion, click the Save & Publish button [1].

If you want to create a draft of your discussion and publish it later, click the Save button [2].

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The Discussions Index Page

The Discussion Index page allows you to view all the discussions within a course. As an instructor, you can add discussions and modify discussion settings. 

View the Discussions Index Page

  1. In Course Navigation, click the Discussions link.
    Canvas Course Navigation with Discussions highlighted.
  2. The Discussions Index page is designed with global settings at the top of the page [1], followed by the Discussion groups [2].
    Screenshot of the Canvas Discussions Page with various sections highlighted and stamped with a number.
  3. Individual discussions are nested within each Discussion group [3].

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View Global Settings

Global settings include a drop-down menu to filter all or unread discussions [1] and a search field for searching discussions [2].

Screenshot of the Canvas Discussions Index Page, Global Settings Toolbar with various number stamp icons.

You can also add a new discussion [3] and edit discussion settings [4].

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View Discussion Groups

Discussion groups can be expanded and collapsed by clicking the arrow next to the name.

Discussions are organized into three main areas:

  1. Discussions. 
    • These are current discussions within the course.
    • Discussions can remain open indefinitely, or you can specify a date range (as designated by the available from/until date). 
    • Discussions with replies are ordered by most recent activity.
    • Discussions with no replies are ordered by creation date. Students will only see this section heading if there are discussions within this section.
  2. Pinned Discussions. 
    • These are discussions that you want your students to see at the top of their page.
    • Pinned discussions can be arranged in any order.
    • Students will only see this section heading if there are discussions within this section.
  3. Closed for Comments. 
    • These discussions have been manually closed for comments, or the discussion is past the available from/until date.
    • These are discussions that are only available in a read-only state.
    • Closed for comments discussions are also ordered by most recent activity.
    • Students will always see this section heading, even if there are no discussions within this section.

For more information, please visit the Canvas How do I use the Discussions Index Page? article.

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View Individual Discussion

Each discussion displays whether or not it is a graded discussion [1], the name of the discussion [2], the date on which the last discussion reply was posted [3], the number of unread/total posts in the discussion [4], the discussion state (published or unpublished) [5], and whether or not you are subscribed to the discussion [6]. You can also view availability dates for graded and ungraded discussions [7].

The unread icon next to a discussion indicates an unread discussion [8]. You can also view which sections are assigned to a discussion [9]. The number of unread/total posts is not included for group discussions and discussions with no discussion replies [10]. The peer review icon [11] also displays if a graded discussion has been assigned peer reviews.

You can also set varied due dates for a discussion and create due dates according to course section. Discussions with varied due dates show the latest due date.


  • Due dates are not required for discussions.
  • Graded discussions with discussion replies cannot be unpublished. This is indicated by the publish icon being lighter in color.

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View Availability Dates

Discussions can also include availability dates. Availability dates can make a discussion available for only a specific period of time.

Screenshot of Discussions in Canvas with individual availability dates highlighted.

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Manage Individual Discussion

To manage an individual discussion, click the Options icon [1].

From the options drop-down menu, you can close the discussion for comments [2], pin or unpin the discussion [3], duplicate the discussion [4], send the discussion to another instructor [5], copy the discussion to another course [6], share to the Commons [7], or delete the discussion [8].

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View Discussion

To view discussion details and replies, click the name of the discussion.

Screenshot of Discussions in Canvas with an individual Discussion title highlighted.

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View Student View

To view the discussions index page as a student, click the Student View button.

Note: If the course navigation link for the page is disabled and hidden from students, the Student View button does not display.

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Article ID: 147651
Mon 11/7/22 3:31 PM
Fri 2/24/23 4:32 PM