Updates to bCourses Discussions and Announcements Feature

June 10, 2024

A screenshot showing the old/classic discussion interface above the new/upgraded discussion interfaceSummary

Beginning on June 17th, all users will see a new interface when interacting with Discussions or Announcements in bCourses. The updated interfaces include a modernized look, and some added features. No functionality has been removed. All previously-created discussion posts and announcements (including any scheduled posts) will be transferred to the new interface with no additional effort required from instructors or students.

What is changing?

The new interface moves the search toolbar above the first discussion post, and new replies are now sorted to the top by default. Users can customize discussions to sort replies by newest/oldest.

  • Instructors and GSIs are now identified when they post or reply.
  • Users can mention people in the class by using the @ symbol. Mentioned users will receive a notification sent to their email by default.
  • Instructors can designate specific discussions as anonymous or optionally anonymous.

See this page for a detailed description of all changes and enhancements: Canvas Release: Discussions/Announcements Redesign - Instructure Community - 464064 (canvaslms.com)

What do instructors need to do?

All existing discussions and announcements will automatically be migrated, and no additional steps are required from instructors. If your course makes extensive use of discussions, you may wish to alert students to the new interface in case you receive any questions. Students can be referred to this page to learn about the changes: Canvas Release: Discussions/Announcements Redesign - Instructure Community - 464064 (canvaslms.com)

Why is this change occurring now?

We have selected this date to be minimally impactful to in-process Summer classes. The vendor is requiring that all users permanently move to the new interface before July 20th.

What if instructors want to enable this interface sooner?

Instructors can enable the new interface at any time by going to the course settings page, selecting the “Feature Options” tab, and toggling the green check next to “Discussion/Announcements Redesign”

What if instructors have questions or encounter issues?

Instructors can contact bCourseshelp@berkeley.edu or schedule a 1:1 bCourses consultation

What if I want to opt out?

All users will be required to update to the new interface by July 20th, 2024, but instructors will be able to temporarily revert to the old Discussions before that date by going to the course settings page, selecting the “Feature Options” tab, and toggling off the green check next to “Discussion/Announcements Redesign”. After July 20th, the old Discussions view will be retired, and only the new design will be available.

What other discussion tools are available?

UC Berkeley Research, Teaching, and Learning also supports the Ed Discussion platform which can be integrated with bCourses. See this page for more information about Ed Discussions.