Role Management

Now that you have set up your user profile and begun customizing channels, it’s time to create roles for your class server. Roles help you manage student engagement with different text and voice channels in Discord. Roles are intertwined with the permissions of your server in that you assign different permissions to certain roles in order to control who can do what throughout your server. We’ll return to this in the teaching kit, but what follows will help you to learn the basics of Discord roles.

Default Role

Upon creation, each Discord server comes with two default roles: an @everyone role and an admin role. Those who are invited to join your server will in turn be assigned the @everyone role, which gives them read, write, and chat permissions, while barring them with the permissions of server moderators and administrators. In order to see what the default role permissions for @everyone looks like, then follow these quick steps:

  1. Navigate to the top left dropdown menu
  2. Click Server Settings
  3. Select Roles
  4. Click Default Permissions

While it seems like a lot to take in, fear not. Discord describes all of the items on the permissions list, and when you create custom roles for your server (e.g. @Students) they override the default role permissions for @everyone. You can manage permissions for the default @everyone role similar to how you manage permissions for custom roles in your server. Those steps are chronicled over the following two sections.

As the server creator you will have administrative privileges that enable every item on the permissions list, which means having complete control over the server, its channels, and its voice and text communications.

Role Creation

When you create new roles, they will by default inherit the permission settings of the @everyone role. In order to create and manage custom roles as part of your server, follow the steps listed below.

  1. Click the drop-down menu in the top-left of your Discord server
  2. Click Server Settings, select Roles, then choose Create Role

  1. Create a role for your students and yourself (e.g. @Students and @Instructor), then assign each one a color to differentiate them

  1. Toggle on these settings for both roles:
    1. Display role Members separately from online members 
    2. Allow Anyone to @Mention this Role

  1. Assign yourself the @Instructor role
    1. Click your server profile
    2. Select the plus sign icon
    3. Choose the @Instructor role

  1. Follow the same steps to assign students the @Students role when they arrive at your server

Role Customization

It is recommended that you customize the server permissions for each role that you create in Discord. The table below covers an example of how to customize @Students role permissions. @Instructor role permissions are not included in the table because they are superseded by your admin role privileges, assuming the user who holds the admin role also holds the@Instructor role.

Role Permissions


General Server Permissions

View Channels
Manage Channels
Manage Roles
Manage Emojis and Stickers
View Audit Log
Manage Webhooks
Manage Server

Membership Permissions

Create Invite
Change Nickname
Manage Nicknames
Kick Members
Ban Members

Text Channel Permissions

Send Messages
Send Messages in Threads
Create Public Threads
Create Private Threads
Embed Links
Attach Files
Add Reactions
Use External Emoji
Use External Stickers
Mention @everyone, @here, and All Roles
Manage Message
Manage Threads
Read Message History
Send Text-to-Speech Messages
Use Application Commands

Voice Channel Permissions

Start Activities
Use Voice Activity
Priority Speaker
Mute Members
Deafen Member
Move Members

Bulleted below are the student role permissions that invite consideration:

  • Create Public Threads: allows students to create threads that everyone in a channel can view
  • Create Private Threads: allows students to create invite-only threads for a select group to view; server administrators can view private threads without an invite.

When you permit students to create public and private threads, they will be able to generate their own discussion spaces, temporarily nested within a text channel of their choosing. Before enabling this function, you should consider the terms of engagement under which public and private threads ought to be created as part of your class server. I then recommend explicitly discussing the matter with your students. You can also model and plan activities around the process of thread creation to set precedents on which students can base their use of threads going forward.

  • Add Reactions: allow students to upload and add emoji reactions to a message
  • Use External Emoji: allows students to use unique emojis from external servers if they’re a Discord Nitro member
  • Use External Stickers: allows students to use unique stickers from external servers if they’re a Discord Nitro member
  • Use Application Commands: allows students to use commands from applications, including slash commands and context menu commands; enabling this permission enables students to make use of bots that have been invited to the server.

Additional Resources

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