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

It is easy for CSE instructors to use Ed!

Discussion Board Creation

  • **If you plan to use Ed Discussion in your course, please include it along with your course computing requests each quarter**. We will no longer automatically create a board without an express request. This prevents unwanted/unused shells from crowding Edstem dashboards and limits inaccurate usage from accruing over time.

  • When we receive a request, we will take care of creating the board and adding instructors and TAs via @uw.edu email addresses.

  • Note: Edstem no longer allows for two separate school accounts (@cs and @uw). Edstem is now UW SSO enabled and integrated with Canvas via LTI, both of which use UW credentials, ie., UWNetID for login and @uw.edu email addresses. All previously separate @cs and @uw accounts have been merged for you, and all courses/ boards in which you have ever been enrolled now show up in a single Ed dashboard.

Student Rosters


CSE Support has written and manages our own internal script to sync student rosters with official SWS data (via student @uw.edu email addresses). Rosters are typically, initially synced approximately four (4) business days before the quarter starts, but can be synced earlier upon an instructor's request. This sync then runs daily around 5am for the rest of the quarter.

  • The CSE internal sync supports import of Quiz section data. HOWEVER, it will only automatically import this element the very first time a student is enrolled in a course. If students change Quiz sections at any point during the quarter, it will be necessary to contact support@cs for an on-demand sync to update that data.

  • CSE Support applies a -D flag for the first two weeks of each quarter, which prevents students from being removed during the primary add/drop period. This is helpful when students are waiting for their registration to officially populate in UW systems. In this situation, instructors can manually add such students to their rosters in the Ed admin console Users section, so that they have access to course materials in the interim.

"Sync with LMS" Button:

As of implementation of the UW Canvas LTI integration with Edstem, there is now a "Sync with LMS" button located in the User section in the Admin console. Instructors may choose to utilize this button at their discretion,but should take note of a couple of caveats:

  • The "sync with Canvas" button serves on-demand execution only. There is no automatic sync schedule associated with this option.

  • The "sync with Canvas" button will not import Quiz section data (know in Ed as "Tutorial Groups"). This presents a particular problem for courses using the full Ed Platform for course delivery, as the Quiz section attribute is almost always required for appropriate assignment submission and grading operations.


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

Ed Chat

Ed Chat is a newly released instant messaging tool that seamlessly integrates with Ed Discussion Boards and Ed Platform courses, allowing quick and easy one-on-one communication as well as group messaging with customizable channels.

Key Features:

  • FERPA aligned! Bundled with Ed Discussion and Ed Platform agreements, Ed Chat is approved for use in courses! (Reminder: Slack, Discourse, Ohyay!, Facebook, and many others are prohibited from CSE course use.)
  • Integrated with Ed Discussion Board for a unified student experience (no separate messaging tool or login required)
  • Syncs with roster via CSE's internal sync as well as Canvas LTI integration
  • Along with Ed Discussion's Q&A offering, Ed Chat's instant messaging helps limit emails

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