Canvas @ YaleInstructor Guides External Apps to use with Canvas @ YaleExternal Apps: Creating and Managing Ed Discussion Threads

External Apps: Creating and Managing Ed Discussion Threads

Posting New Threads

Click the [1] New Thread button. In the central discussion space, a new thread box will appear where you can begin to craft your message.

Select what [2] kind of thread you want to start, either a(n):

  • Question - Default thread for students that is answered by instructor and/or other students
  • Post - Thread to promote discussion about a specific topic
  • Announcement - Thread that sends an email to the class (instructors only)

Provide a [3] Title for the Thread. Select the [4] Category the thread should be organized under, then write your message in the [5] Content Editor box. Check off any [6] Post / Comment Settings that are applicable in this thread, and then click [7] Post.

Main Ed Discussion Interface with New Thread button highlighted.

Utilizing the Content Editor

The Content Editor allows users to format text, insert multimedia, and other programming language snippets. It also supports LaText and chemical and mathematical equations by directly typing in Markdown and LaTex syntax. Below is a brief introduction to the Content Editor functions.


Content Editor ribbon.
  1. Polls - Create short straw polls for students to respond to. Learn more about Ed Discussion Polls.
  2. Text Style - Change the text style to insert Header tags, blockquotes, and specific Callouts that change the text color and background.
  3. Insert Image - Embed an image from a file on your computer or from a URL link.
  4. Embed Video - Embed a video from a URL link from sites like YouTube or Vimeo.
  5. Upload a File - Upload a file from your computer for students to download.
  6. Insert LaTex - Write direct input of LaText math equations into the Content Editor (using the dollar syntax) or build equations with the visual math editor to see a live preview in the LaTex editing window.
  7. Insert Code Snippets - Insert code snippets from supported coding language such as C/C++, Python, Java, Ruby, R, Julia, SQL, Javascript, CSS, HTML, etc. These code snippets can be run by clicking Run button in the top-right corner once inserted.
  8. Insert Web Codes - Insert HTML, CSS, or Javascript codes for web design and development.
  9. Image Annotation - Insert a blank canvas or upload an image to have students annotate over.
  10. Preview - Open a preview window to show what the new Thread will look like when posted.

Post / Comment Settings

Below the Content Editor are a set of post / comment settings for each Thread type during creation that can be enabled or disabled. The settings offered are slightly different depending on if you want to post a new Question, Post, or Announcement Thread. Below is a table highlighting which post/comment settings are available to use depending on the Thread type.

Pinned Private Anonymous Anonymous Comments Megathread Email
Question X X

Post X X

Announcement X


Pinned - Keeps the Thread at the top of the category's thread list.

Private - A thread that is only visible to you and other staff in the course (i.e. other instructors and TAs).

Anonymous - Allows students to hide their identity from each other when making new Threads. (Note that staff will always be able to see the names of students regardless of whether this is selected.)

Anonymous Comments - Allows students to hide their identity from each other when posting comments. (Note that staff will always be able to see the names of students regardless of whether this is selected.)

Megathread - Allows instructors to consolidate student questions under a specific topic.

Email - Sends an email notification to all course members with the content of the Thread.

Replying / Interacting with Threads

Once a Thread has been made, you and your students have a number of ways to reply / interact with the thread that can facilitate discussion, collaboration, and communication.

Hearts, Stars, and Watch

Instructors and students can click the [1] Heart on comments and threads they find useful, while clicking the [2] Star on the threads they want to refer to later.

The number of Hearts that a post receives is viewable by the entire class, but Star is private to the individual.

The [3] Watch icon allows users to manage their notifications for that thread. They can click to switch between three different modes: 

  1. Not Watching - notified of direct replies only
  2. Watching - receive notifications about all activities
  3. Ignoring - never notified
Discussion post with the heart icon, star icon, and watch icons all highlighted.

Pinning Threads

Only Instructors can Pin a Thread. Pinning a thread keeps the thread at the top of the Category's thread list.

Full Ed Discussion interface with Pinned section of the thread list identidied and Pinned icon highlighted.

Resolving and Endorsing Student Responses

When reviewing student Question threads, Instructors and Staff can take a student comment and [1] Convert to Answer by clicking the three dots below the comment.

Discussion comment with the option to "Convert to Answer" identified.

Instructors can then [2] Endorse a response that exemplifies a good and/or strong answer, which will put a blue ribbon on the post/comment. Instructors can also [3] Accept a comment to mark the question as resolved.

Question thread comment that has the green check highlighted and Endorse/Unendorse button identified.

Removing Duplicate Threads

If a new thread is created that duplicates the discussion or question in another thread, you can consolidate the threads. Click the three dots on a thread and select [1] Mark as Duplicate.

Student post that has the "mark as duplicate" option identified.

A new window will pop up where you can select which Thread this is a duplicate of, and then confirm by clicking the [2] Mark as Duplicate button.

Selection of possible threads that the selected thread can be marked the duplicate of.


Instructors can take advantage of using Mentions to instantly notify a student or other user about a discussion. In the content box, type the "@" and then the users name to notify and draw them into the discussion.

Content editor with the "@" symbol and autofill dropdown below it.

Students cannot @Mention course staff or other students.

Search and Filters

Ed Discussion supports a variety of ways to search, filter, and sort Threads. Utilizing the [1] Search Box, you can conduct a full-text search by typing in keywords.

Full Ed Discussion interface with the Search bar highlighted.

All Threads that match will appear in the Search Results. You can also [2] Filter your search results by selecting from things like Unread/Read, New Replies, Categories, and Date.

Search result page with the filters highlighted along the side.

For more help with Ed Discussions, please email vendor support  at or