Quercus Discussions

What Can I Use It For?

Man using laptop and gesturing in a meeting with others

Online discussion with and between students in a course can be a very powerful and effective teaching tool. Quercus Discussions can be used to support online (asynchronous) discussions. Instructors can create prompts for student response or provide the opportunity for class members to have open-ended and ungraded communication.  Graded discussions will sync automatically with your Gradebook.

Discussions can be enabled for an entire class or for group discussions. Groups can be created automatically or manually. Instructors have the option to allow students to enroll in a group, which is useful when setting different discussion topics.

Instructors can create both threaded and focused discussions. They can require a student to post before the student sees other responses. As well, instructors can require students to give peer reviews.

You can reduce your email load if you set up a discussion topic where students can ask questions that either you or their peers can answer.


FOR LINKING RELATED CONTENT: Quercus has a built-in discussion tool, and at the University of Toronto, Instructors also have the option of using either PeppeR or Piazza. There are a variety of features in each Discussion board – for a comparison of some features offered in each specific board, please see this comparison chart here.

More about Discussions in the Canvas Guides

Special Notes

Student file attachments for non-graded Discussions are counted towards their personal quota. Attachments for graded discussions are not counted.

Instructors should be aware that once a discussion board is enabled, they should carefully monitor the correspondence in the discussion to make sure students are using the tool effectively. Instructors who have not built this monitoring into their course’s design may wish to avoid turning on discussion tools. For more about best teaching practices, please visit the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation’s discussion board-related resources. External Link

This Academic Toolbox tool helps you...
Connect & communicate
Typical course activity format:
Quercus integration
Built-in tool

Where can I get more support?

Similar/related tools

Centrally funded

How Are Faculty Using This Tool

How to Get Started

Instructors can set up a discussion for students in their Quercus classroom as a method of asynchronous engagement.

How to Use This Tool

Quercus Discussion Settings

Prior to opening a Discussion:

  • Review ground rules that provide expectations for student participation and etiquette. Consider addressing rules for respectful online presence in a Community Agreement.
  • Have a focus or purpose for each discussion. If the discussion is tied to assessment, share learning outcomes with students.
  • For large courses, consider separating students into smaller groups to allow for more opportunity to interact with each other.


  • Opening a Discussion

    Opening a Discussion

    1. Course options that can be toggled for Student Settings (via settings cog icon near the top right):
      Students can Create discussion topics
      Selecting this option will enable the [+Discussion] for students and allow them to create discussion topics in the same way an instructor can.
      Discussion Settings
    2. Students can Edit and delete their own discussion replies.
    3. Students can Attach files to discussions
    4. All discussions are a single topic, not separate threads.
    5. Discussion Options include:
      • Allow threaded replies
      • Users must post before seeing replies
      • Enable podcast feed
      • Graded
      • Allow liking
      • Creating a Group Discussion – students can self-enroll, if this option is checked.
      • Require Peer Reviews
    6.  Pinned Discussions are sorted by the instructor, “Discussions” are sorted by most recent activity.

Additional Information From Local Academic Units

Last Modified:

10 February, 2023

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