Ed Discussion

Ed Discussion (us.edstem.org) is a course communication tool that has been developed for broad applicability across all academic disciplines, with many features that uniquely compliment computer science, data science, and other STEM courses. We have an Allen School-wide yearly subscription in place, making this Discussion platform readily available to everyone. It is FERPA compliant and structured to save teaching staff considerable time, while also increasing student engagement, peer learning and active inquiry in courses. The system is Q&A based, with an intuitive interface that supports rich content.

Key Features:

  • Clean, modern design
  • Highly usable filters
  • Different thread types that are denoted by easy-to-identify icons (Question, Post, Announcement)
  • Clear, color-coded category settings that default to correspond with the needs of most CS courses, with the option to customize further and created subcategories as desired.
  • Search processes all content, not just titles
  • Anonymous posting options
  • Easily synced with official UW Enrollment
  • FERPA compliant

Versatile Messaging Interface:

  • Text formatting
  • Hyperlinked text
  • Lists
  • Image uploads
  • Video embedding
  • LaTeX typesetting
  • Document uploads
  • Runnable code snippets
  • Image Annotation

Getting Started

We have made it easy for CSE instructors to use Ed!

    • The CSE EdTech team proactively creates an Ed Discussion "shell" for each course offered in a given quarter, so that this resource is readily available if/when requested as part of course computing.
    • **If you plan to use Ed Discussion in your course, please include it along with your course computing requests each quarter**. We will not automatically enroll instructors without a request in order to prevent unwanted/unused shells from crowding Edstem dashboards.
    • As soon as we receive a request, we will take care of enrolling instructors and TAs using @cs.washington.edu email addresses.
    • The very first time an user is enrolled in Ed, an email "invitation to join" will automatically be sent to them via support@edstem.org.Once a user has accepted this initial invitation (regardless of quarter), in subsequent quarters they can simply log in to us.edstem.org with existing credentials and their new course(s) will appear on their dashboard after they have been enrolled by the CSE EdTech team. 
    • We have also written a script to sync student rosters with official SWS data (via student @uw.edu email addresses). Rosters are typically synced approximately four (4) business days before the quarter starts, but can be synced earlier upon an instructor's request.


The downloadable Ed Discussion Quickstart Guide offers a great overview of the UI and Features:

Admin Console: 

The Admin console can be accessed via the "cog" icon in the top menu bar from within a course shell. Once inside the Admin console, a left-hand menu hosts sections for editing "General" course information, editing,enabling/disabling "Discussion" settings, and an "Advanced" section with a few added customization options.

    • Edit Course Number (code) and Name
    • Enable/Disable General Features to enable for the Course (Resources, Discussion, Sway)
    • Manage and View Course Roster

    • Select discussion-specific features/settings, including things like Anonymous Posting preferences
    • Customize "Category" names
    • Customize "Thread Templates"
    • Create or Edit frequently used replies for quick-use
    • Control Moderation
    • Choose Code settings for Discussion snippets

    • Archive/Unarchive a course
    • Customize what "Role" labels are displayed


A Few Tips & Tricks

The following are tips and tricks, with example text, that can be used to jump-start a a successful class on Ed:

    • Include a brief memo about using Ed in your lecture slides:

We will be using Ed for class discussion this quarter.

Unless your question is a personal issue, do not send us direct email.  Instead, post your questions on Ed so others can benefit from the answers.

We encourage all students to regularly check the class discussion page and also answer and comment on any questions or posts that interest you.


    • Remind students to ask questions on Ed when you receive questions via email:

When you receive questions about class content via email be sure to remind students to ask their question on Ed instead, so that other students can benefit from the answers, and other students and tutors will also be able to answer their question.


    • Post class announcements on Ed:

Announcements will send an email notification to students and staff in the class. This is useful for letting them know about upcoming assignments, quizzes, events, etc.


    • Post anonymous questions on Ed:

               Posting anonymous questions to the students is a good way to seed the discussion.


    • Post readings, related articles and videos on Ed:

Posting supplementary course content is a good way to encourage students to visit the forum&nbsp

Have questions? Please reach out to support@cs.washington.edu or to rjhansen@cs.washington.edu