Using Canvas Discussion Boards for Introductions

Having students introduce themselves on the 1st day of class is a great way to build community. One option that works well for both online and face-to-face courses, is the discussion board tool in Canvas. As the instructor, you will want to start of the introductions by posting yours first. Create a video introduction, modeling the format you would like students to follow. Consider making this a low-stakes or no-stakes assignment by asking students to post their introduction the discussion board.  Video is just one option. You can offer students a choice in how they would like to introduce themselves:  video recording, audio recording with a photo, written bio with photo, or whatever creative choice you are willing to offer! And explain to your students why you are having them do this.  For example, a video helps put a name to a face, it allows you to learn how to pronounce their name, and it facilitates getting to know each other.

Instructions: Sample Language

Discussion Board Topic: Getting to Know Each Other

Purpose: Explain why you are having students do this activity

Instructions: Create a brief introduction (instructions are below) and please share the following with us:

  1. Your name (pronounced clearly, please) and if you have a preferred name/nickname that you would like us to use, then please share that with us. Note: if people sometimes struggle saying your name correctly, please consider writing it out with phonetic spelling (ex: Sophia: so-FEE-uh)
  2. Please answer the following questions:
    • What do you want students to share in their intro? This will depend on the course as to what might be meaningful. For example, with an elective course or non-major course, you (and the students) might want to know what each other’s major is and why they chose to take this class. If this is an online course and there are international students enrolled, then you might want to know the time zone and time difference from where they are currently residing. 
  3. “Ice Breaker” question (pick 1):
    • What talents, skills, interests, or hobbies do you have? Share 1-3 things.
    • Favorite food / music / tv show …. (especially if you could link it to your course in some way)
    • Favorite place to visit in Newark?
    • Fun fact about you?


How to record a short video introduction.

  1. Use the video tool located in the menu bar in your response box (see icon circled below). If you have any issues with the video, then you can simply respond in writing and provide a photo of you.

picture of Canvas toolbar with the video tool icon circled.