Using Canvas discussions for asynchronous tutorials

Asynchronous online discussions can be used instead of - or in addition to - synchronous sessions, to support and enhance learning and teaching online. Discussions are ideal to establish and support a sense of community between both students and instructors, particularly when in remote locations.

  • How do I use discussions for collaborative learning?

    You can set up and facilitate discussions for students to:

    • Discuss and critique a reading or resource
    • Share resources and perspectives
    • Debate a topic
    • Reflect on an event or experience.

    You can also appoint students to nominate and facilitate a discussion on a particular topic.

  • How do I use discussions to support synchronous activities?

    You can set up and facilitate discussions to prepare students for synchronous activities, and therefore make the most of your synchronous class time. Use discussions in this way to:

    • Discuss and critique a reading or resource to prepare for a real-time debate
    • Ask and/or address questions about upcoming topics
    • Reflect on a previous class, practical activity or placement
    • Get a sense-check of students’ understanding of a topic you have covered.
  • How do I set up asynchronous discussions in Canvas?

    Canvas discussions are straightforward to set up and facilitate. They can be assessed or non-assessed. See the Canvas guide how do I create a discussion as an instructor?

  • How do I design and facilitate effective online discussions?
    • Establish a clear, consistent and concise framework for the explanation of discussion activities. There is one in Canvas Commons that you can use: search discussion activity framework.
    • Participate in the discussion, just as you do in a synchronous class. Provide encouragement, adjust misconceptions and remember to name and highlight success!
    • Begin in the early weeks with low-stakes icebreakers and social tasks (for example introductions with relevant pics) and advance to more complex tasks and topics as students acquire more technical and subject-matter knowledge.

    Sample activity format

    Title/functionDiscuss: Title of discussion

    Purpose

    This discussion learning activity will allow you to: apply/practice the material from:

    And prepare for the in-class activity/lecture on:

    And this discussion will enhance your understanding on...leading to assessment X:

    Task

    The directions for the students will be:

    (include word count if applicable)

    I will tell them to also reply to #____ posts and do the following in their reply:

    (include word count if applicable)

    Resources (if applicable)

    The following resources may help you in responding:

    Benchmark

    An excellent response will include:

    An acceptable response will include:

    Timeline

    Post by X date, Reply by Y date

    My role (as teacher)

    I will give feedback/respond/summarise by:  Y +1  date