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Recommended ways to communicate in Canvas

To facilitate the spreading of information to students, E-learning recommends using the Canvas tools "Announcements" and "Inbox", especially for one-way communication. Here we explains the differences in usage between them and why you should avoid email lists.

Announcements primarily for one-way communication

Announcements are the alternative that E-learning recommends primarily for one-way communication with students about things that concern course activities, interesting course-related topics and information of a logistical nature. However, it is not intended to replace, for example, pages or assignments, but is recommended to be used to highlight extra important information and to inform if a course activity or course material has been updated.

Example of announcements:

  • "The lecture has been moved"
  • "Grades are now available"
  • "Your lab groups are as follows"
  • "Correction of mistakes during previous lecture".

Announcments are visible in the news feed and become searchable

When you have posted an announcements, it appears in a news feed under the link "Announcements" in the course menu and is also searchable. You can choose to display any number of announcements at the top of the course homepage, and you can also choose to send the announcements to the entire course or to individual course sections.

Should students be able to comment?

Announcements work particularly well when responses are not expected. If comments are allowed, it should be to give students a chance to ask clarifying questions that the entire course should know. However, when the goal is to collect questions from the students, it is better that you create a discussion forum with a title such as "FAQ" or "Ask your questions about the course here".

Read more about the Announcements in Canvas .

Read more about pages in Canvas  and about creating assignments in Canvas .

Inbox in anticipation of personal questions

Messages sent via Inbox differ from Announcements in that it reaches the students as individuals and the function is in the global navigation menu instead of in the course menu, which increases the risk of students confuses information from different courses.

Messages can be sent to individuals, entire courses or certain course sections, but all responses will come separately from individual students. The recommendation is therefore that messages via Inbox are mainly used for two-way communication, ie. when response is expected, or one-way communication to a selection of students. We also recommend that you are clear with which course the message comes from to make it easier for the students, for example by writing the course name or course code in the subject line.

Inbox may in some cases be preferable over announcements, even for spreading information that we at E-learning have recommended for announcements. This is when you as a teacher expect questions and comments from students that may be sensitive or personal. That is, when the information is directed to the students as individuals rather than as course participants.

Example of personal information:

  • "Unacceptable behavior during recent lecture"
  • "For those of you who did not pass assignment 1"
  • "Wallet found in the lecture hall".

Canvas rather than email lists

Communication with students via email lists has many risks, for example:

  • The information becomes easier to miss when it is spread across several platforms.
  • It is more difficult for students to get started if they have to change windows to do so.
  • The email list may be incomplete or contain the wrong people.
  • Many students have not gotten into the habit of reading through their emails regularly.

When you use Canvas, you avoid these risks, and then both you and your students know that everyone has received all the information you sent out. It is also easier for students if all courses communicate in a similar way.

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Last changed: Jun 02, 2021