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Recommended ways to communicate in Canvas

To facilitate the spreading of information to students, you should use 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 allows you, as a teacher, to send messages to the whole course at once, and should therefore fe your primary choice for one-way communication with several students at once. Especially if it is about things that concern course activities, interesting course-related topics and information of a logistical nature. Announcements are useful when you want to highlight extra important information and to inform if a course activity or course material has been updated. It is not intended to replace, for example, pages or assignments.

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.

Read more about the Announcements in Canvas .

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

Discussions for open two-way communication

Announcements can allow comments, but preferably only 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. You can choose titles such as "FAQ" or "Ask your questions about the course here".

Read more about The Discussions function in Canvas .

Inbox in anticipation of personal questions

Messages sent via Inbox can be sent to individuals, entire courses or certain course sections, but will reach the students as individuals. The students can give individual answers without anyone else in the course receiving that information, which is different than for announcements and discussions.

The Inbox is mainly recommended for targeted two-way communication, that is, when a response is expected from specific 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. This is because the same Inbox is used for all courses, which increases the risk of students confusing information from different courses.

The Inbox may in some cases be preferable over announcements or discussions for spreading information. For example, 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.

Examples of when to send messages via the Inbox:

  • "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.