What are Discussions?

Discussions are online spaces that enable asynchronous written conversations to be posted and shared among students via “threads” and “replies.” Canvas (Cornell’s Learning Management System - LMS) includes a discussion feature called Canvas Discussions, but there are other products available as well. Ed Discussion is a new discussion tool Cornell supports (as a replacement for Piazza) that extends the basic functionality of Canvas Discussions to create more dynamic student experiences. See our comparison of Canvas Discussions and Ed Discussion.

Why Use Discussions?

Discussions can encourage reflection, engagement, and collaborative peer-to-peer learning surrounding course content in in-person, blended, and online courses. They allow students to solidify their understanding of course content through conversation, or by posing and answering questions to peers.

Considerations for Using Discussions

Discussion use should be clearly defined in the course syllabus to set expectations with learners. In Canvas, posts can be attached to the grade center for participation points.

Getting Started with Discussions

Discussions in Canvas are available to any course. Ed Discussion is available at no cost to Cornell students and faculty. Contact the Center to set up Ed Discussion for your class. Students will need to sign up for an account independently, however, instructors can share a class link to help facilitate. Contact the Center for more information on using discussions.