Activity: Set up asynchronous discussions 

Provide students a ‘read-reflect-respond-revise’ framework to engage in discussion boards 

For each assigned discussion board, frame the experience so that students: 

  • Read, watch, or listen to a content-driven resource 
  • Reflect individually on resource 
  • Respond to specific questions in the discussion thread 
  • Revise original thoughts by responding to classmates’ posts and writing a summary post at the end of the week 

Vary the discussion question types over the course of the semester. Consider using video and audio prompts as well as more traditional text-based options. Consult with the Center for Teaching if you are looking for discussion prompt ideas! 


Copy discussion questions to other Canvas courses or share questions with colleagues teaching other sections 

Facilitate discussions by acknowledging responses, connecting student ideas, and sharing additional information 

Discussion boards can be lively spaces for students and instructors. However, we must be careful to honor discussion boards as mutual spaces for exploration, brainstorming, and self-expression. 

Here are a few ways to effectively engage in discussion boards: 

    • Acknowledge responses 
    • Promote higher level thinking or questioning 
    • Address misunderstandings or provide further clarification about a point 
    • Encourage others to interact 
    • Post additional questions for further conversation


In Canvas, there are simple ways to engage in a course discussion: 

Use assigned roles to develop student ownership of discussions 

Once you have established discussion board norms, have students take more active roles in shaping the conversations. 

  • Opener–the Opener reads the materials ahead of time and formulates questions for group discussion (you can preview questions to offer feedback) 
  • Connector—makes connections within the conversations, commenting where there are common thoughts and asking questions when different opinions arise 
  • Closer or Wrapper—writes a final post that summarizes the group’s discussion and synthesizes the main points made 

For larger classes, break students into smaller groups to provide more opportunities for full participation. This Canvas Guide can help you create a group discussion in a course.