Ed Discussion

The Poorvu Center will be piloting Ed Discussions for one year, available to all academic courses in Canvas from January 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021.  

Ed Discussions is a powerful threaded discussion tool that allows instructors and students to share and interact asynchronously.  Ed Discussion's user friendly design and unique tool set makes it the perfect solution to engage students, enhance peer learning, and foster community.  The assortment of rich interactions makes Ed Discussion an ideal tool for STEM courses and beyond.

Ed Discussions is integrated with Canvas to synchronize your student enrollments, but it does not currently integrate with the Canvas Grades for graded discussion work.

Ed Discussions Demonstration Video


  • The ability to create custom categories to organize discussion posts/questions (e.g. FAQ, Lectures, Precepts, Labs, Assignments, etc).  
  • The ability to set a default category for all new student posts/questions.
  • The ability to search and use filters to help find posts quickly (Unread, New Replies, Starred, Unanswered, etc).
  • Ability to create messages as Posts, Questions or Announcements (instructors/staff only).
  • A content editor which allows users to easily format text, type equations with LaTeX, post static or runnable code, upload documents, annotate images etc.
  • The ability to create Thread Templates which provide students with a skeleton structure for discussion posts so they know what their post should include.
  • The option to set discussion threads to private, i.e. available to course staff only.
  • Instructors are able to set addition options for pinning a post at the top of the list, private to staff, anonymous, allow anonymous comments and a megathread (dedicated FAQ threads for short questions and comments about a particular topic) .
  • The option to configure the discussions to allow anonymous posts, opening options for peer and instructor feedback.
  • Links to all the courses in which you have used Ed are immediately available in the Ed interface allowing you to easily switch to other discussions.
  • Integrated notifications that allow you to send announcements to the entire class or to be notified when someone responds to one of your posts.
  • Commonly used replies may be saved within Ed and reused. This is helpful when offering recurring feedback on student posts.
Why use Ed Discussions?

Ed Discussions provides a vast set of tools and features which can enhance asynchronous discussions with and between students.  Asynchronous discussions are a great way to encourage collaboration outside the classroom and foster community building.  The user-friendly interface with advanced searching abilities makes it easier for instructors to accommodate large enrollment courses and/or large numbers of discussion posts. Image annotations, LaTeX math typesetting and static or runnable code are just a few of the features that makes Ed Discussions a more robust alternative to Canvas Discussions and Piazza.

Use Cases for Ed Discussions

Asynchronous discussions are a great tool for engaging students outside of class time and for coordinating full class or small group collaboration.  Below are some ways that Ed Discussion can be integrated into your course:

  • Class discussion (either full class or small group) analyzing concepts covered in class readings/lecture.
  • Peer review assignment work where students post original content/code and classmates comment on it.
  • FAQ / Q&A discussion space where students can post questions (possibly anonymously?) that peers can respond to.  The instructor/TA post-endorsing feature allows staff to indicate the appropriate answer.
  • Collaborative place where students can work together to study or do homework problems.
How do I use Ed Discussions in my course?

Ed Discussions is available in all Spring 21 academic courses as well as personal sandbox sites (request a sandbox site).

How do I enable Ed Discussions?

If Ed Discussions in not enabled in your course, you can easily add the tool to your course navigation by:

  1. Go to the Settings area [1] of your course site.
  2. Go to the Navigation tab [2].
  3. Find the Ed tool [3] in the lower portion of the page where the disabled tools appear.
  4. Drag and Drop Ed to the upper portion of the page (to the enabled tools section) or just click the Ed options three-dot menu [4] and select Enable [5].
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save button [6].
Ed Discussion is enabled through your course site's Settings area.

Once enabled, Ed Discussions (Ed) will appear in the Course Navigation menu of your course.  To begin using Ed Discussions, simply click on the Ed button [7].

Click the Ed button to open Ed Discussions.

Ed Discussions will load in a separate tab/window.

An example of an Ed Discussion assignment post with a student comment.
How do I sync my Ed Discussion Roster with my Canvas Roster?

By default, when users click the Ed Discussions button in your Canvas site, that user will be added to the roster of your Ed Discussion site.  

You may however want to get users added in early - or you may have extra users that need to be removed after the add/drop period closes.  To sync your Ed Discussions Roster with your Canvas Roster:

  1. Go to your Canvas course and click on Ed Discussions
  2. Once you are in your Ed Discussions site, click on the admin panel [1]. 
  3. You will need to scroll down [2] and at the bottom of that page, click the Sync with LMS button [3]
Sync your Ed Discussion roster with your Canvas roster by clicking Sync with LMS

For information on how to use Ed Discussions, visit the Ed Discussion Quick Start Guide.

What will my students see?

Ed Discussion will open in a separate tab/window.

Students will see the Ed Discussion button in your course navigation menu.  Students will click on the button to go directly to the Ed Discussion space for your course.

Click on the Ed button to open up Ed Discussions
An example of an Ed Discussion question posted anonymous with an endorced peer comment.

For a more complete guide for students, please see Creating and Commenting on Ed Discussion Threads

For more help with Ed Discussions, please email vendor support  at support@edstem.org or  askpoorvucenter@yale.edu.