Threadz Instructor Guide

Threadz is a learning analytics tool that allows you to visualize and better quantify student discussions that happen in the discussion boards of your Canvas course. Developed by Eastern Washington University with academic use in mind, Threadz lets you map a discussion by person or by discussion thread.
Cost Yes Free.
Bandwidth Yes Low demand on internet connections.
Canvas Integration Yes Works within Canvas.
Privacy Yes Complies with FIPPA by default.
Similar UBC-Supported Tools N Threadz is the only centrally-supported tool for visualizing student discussions.

What can I use it for?

Threadz can help you understand student engagement in Canvas discussions:

  • Mapping discussions to identify which students have interacted with each other
  • Downloading student data to see how many times each student contributed to the discussion and what was said
  • Identifying isolated students so you can encourage engagement between them and the rest of the class

How are other faculty using Threadz?

Leah Macfadyen uses Threadz to monitor and share engagement around discussions in education

What do I need to use Threadz?

A supported web browser

Threadz runs in your web browser and supports using Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari. We recommend using it with Chrome or Firefox for the best experience.


A Canvas course

Threadz only runs in Canvas courses at UBC. All UBC courses have matching courses in Canvas automatically created, with the enrolled students added, even if you have never used Canvas.


A Canvas discussion

You will need to create a discussion in your Canvas course and have students participate in it to analyze the outcomes.

Tips

  • Threadz is supported on Windows and Mac as well as iOS and Android, but we recommend using full-screen devices. Full-screen devices make it easier to view and download the data.

How do I use Threadz?

To use Threadz, you will set it up in your Canvas course, run a discussion in Canvas, and analyze the outcomes.

Click any bar below for instructions and tips for using Threadz.

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Set up Threadz in Canvas

If you wish to use Threadz, you will first request access from us and then make it visible in your course.

  1. Contact us in the LT Hub to request Threadz be enabled in your Canvas course. Please provide your course code and Canvas link for the course(s) you wish to use Threadz with.
  2. Once Threadz has been added to your course, make it visible in your course:
    • Log in to Canvas, and click Settings in the Course Navigation.
    • Click the Navigation tab.
    • Find the Threadz menu item, click the options menu (the three vertical dots), and choose Enable.
    • Save your setting changes.

Tips

  • By default, the Threadz navigation item in your Canvas course will only be visible to you and your teaching team, but you can request it be enabled for students too. With Threadz enabled for everyone, you can engage students in conversations beyond the discussion topic itself, looking together at what makes a stronger or weaker discussion in a course.

Create a Canvas discussion for Threadz

Threadz works best in a the style of discussion called a "threaded" discussion in Canvas. Note that groups discussions will not work with Threadz.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Discussions in the Course Navigation. If you don’t see this option, first enable Discussions:
    • Click Settings in the Course Navigation.
    • Click the Navigation tab.
    • Find the "Discussions" menu item, click the options menu (the three vertical dots), and choose Enable.
    • Save your setting changes.
  2. On the Discussions page, click +Discussion.
  3. Create a title and description for your discussion. You can also add links, files, and images.
  4. Under "Options", check the box next to "Allow threaded replies" to allow students to respond to each other. Threaded replies is key to making Threadz an effective teaching and learning tool.
  5. Set any other discussion options you would like, such as adding date constraints or grading.
  6. Once you are ready, click Save & Publish.

Tips

  • Threaded discussions in Canvas allow for infinite levels of replying, which makes them better for Threadz analysis. In contrast, what are called "focused" discussions in Canvas only allow replies to the original post, making them useful for quick topics but less useful for Threadz analysis.
  • Explore Canvas' guides for more detailed instructions on using discussions:

Examine Canvas discussion outcomes with Threadz

Threadz offers three main options for visualizing your Canvas discussions: network diagrams, chord diagrams, and timelines. To see any of these visualizations, you will access Threadz through your Canvas course.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Threadz in the Course Navigation.
  2. If prompted, click Authorize to allow Threadz access to your course's discussion data.
  3. At the top of the page, select the discussion you wish to analyze.
  4. Click the Network tab to open the network diagram. Network diagrams show the connections between posts in the discussion. A thicker line here indicates that a student has sent more posts to other students. You can customize the display:
    • Display by User - Sort the size of user circles by the number of posts and replies sent, the number of replies received, total posts and replies sent or received, and total word count.
    • Display by Posts/Replies - Sort posts and replies by word count, as well as highlight if the post or reply was late, if the post hasn't been read, or if any students are isolated.
    • Click and drag a user circle to untangle heavily overlapping networks.
  5. Click the Chord tab to open the chord diagram. Chord diagrams show the direction of interactions between people in a discussion. You can interact with elements on this display:
    • Display a student's post count by hovering your mouse over their edge of the outer circle.
    • Display the number of posts sent between two students by hovering your mouse over the chord connecting them.
  6. Click the Timeline tab to open the timeline diagram. Timelines show the daily number of posts added to the discussion over time.

Tips

  • Network diagrams are useful for understanding the structure and depth of the discussion and identifying isolated students. At the bottom of the tab, there is a list of students who have not yet contributed to the discussion.
  • Chord diagrams are useful for understanding how specific students are interacting with each other as well as for viewing peer-to-peer engagement overall.
  • Timelines can be useful for understanding if students are posting at similar times and for seeing if more time is needed for further discussion.
  • By examining student data, you can gauge how discussions are developing and be more inclusive by prompting further engagement so more students are included in the conversation.

Download Canvas discussion outcomes from Threadz

Downloading outcomes allows you to keep a record of student engagement and conduct deeper quantitative analysis of student participation. You can download aggregate student data for access to numeric information or download the discussion replies for access to the conversation content.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Threadz in the Course Navigation.
  2. If prompted, click Authorize to allow Threadz access to your course's discussion data.
  3. At the top of the page, select the discussion you wish to download data from.
  4. For aggregate student data, click the Statistics tab, then click Export Users Table to download a spreadsheet of individual student statistics.
  5. For discussion replies, click the Data Set tab, then click Export SNA Data to download a spreadsheet of all responses.
  6. Open the downloaded files in a spreadsheet software like Excel to conduct deeper statistical analysis about student engagement, such as the mean number of posts per student.

Tips

  • Aggregate student data summarizes numeric information, including the number of times each student contributed to a discussion, their total word count, and the average word count of their posts.
  • Discussion-replies data compiles all the posts added to the discussion, including deleted posts, allowing you to review and analyze what was said. Discussion posts that were deleted will contain empty "message_text" cells in the spreadsheet.
  • You can view the total numbers of participants, posts, deleted posts, and threads for a discussion at the top of the "Statistics" tab.

Where can I get more support with Threadz?

Technical support

If you have trouble with Threadz:

Learn more

  • Watch a Threadz screencast from developers at Eastern Washington University for a demonstration of the tool.

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