What is Nebula?

Nebula is a Learning Tool Integration application (or LTI app) developed at Northwestern that displays Canvas discussions as personalized network graphs. Rather than interact with an evolving chronological thread, the Nebula interface allows students to see posts as they fit into the conversation.

Examples of Nebula Discussion Boards

Network of circles, squares, and arrows connecting them, representing the scale and direction of the discussions.

This is an example of a Nebula discussion. Students can hold their mouse over each node in the network graph to read the contributions. Size of the node represents length of the post, while color represents read or unread status.

When should I use Nebula?

Nebula can be used as an alternative to the traditional Canvas discussion board. It appeals to students who are more visual learners and allows both students and instructors to easily visualize discussion board activity.

How do I use Nebula?


To participate in a test Nebula discussion or have Nebula added to your course, e-mail


Nebula’s visualization focus could present a challenge to students with visual disabilities. However, Nebula is an optional discussion board interface. If a student is unable to interact with Nebula, they can simply use the standard, text-based Canvas discussion board.