[Inbox] Auto-reply for Canvas messages

Please add a "out of office" feature to the Canvas messages so that students who use the Canvas Inbox to send messages during winter or summer breaks will know that faculty are off campus and unable to reply. 

Community Member

Yes please. As a college professor not working certain quarters, it would be a great option professionally that we should be able to have.

Community Explorer

This is a significant problem that I hope Canvas recognizes as deserving high priority. Unfortunately, it is not possible to create an out of office reply in our institutional email and have the Canvas inbox interact- students do not receive the automatic reply. However, most instructors are unaware- most assume that students do receive the auto reply! We do not know the issue exists unless we poll students. 

Instructors often do not work in a twelve month contract, yet do regularly receive emails from students during the winter and summer breaks. For myself, these emails often come when I am in the field and unreachable by email, and when a simple auto reply can redirect students to resources that they need to get their questions answered. Students are sometimes trying to set up disability accommodations for the upcoming semester, at times eight weeks before the semester begins. Other times, they are in need of a last-minute letter of recommendation and need to know quickly if I am available to write one- or if they should ask elsewhere. If I am off contract and in the field, it can be weeks before I am able to personally reply- whereas an auto reply alerts them of this right away. Plus, it helps define healthy work boundaries in an industry where stepping away can be an issue of ethics- to ensure that you avoid burnout and can return fresh and ready to help in a new semester. During off contract time, it is our institutional policy to have something that replies to them- this is necessary for the operation of our institutions, for our student’s wellbeing, and also for the mental health of instructors. It is absolutely essential. 

Plus, in a Canvas inbox auto reply, or a reply that interacts with Canvas, it would be possible to provide students links to services or where to go to get help- especially as they often reach out very late at night, in the middle of winter or summer breaks, and when they are experiencing significant issues. 

Every six months or more, I log in to this site to try to see if the issue has gained traction- but several times in the past, the issue has been closed. In those moments it becomes quite distressing to think that it will never be fixed. Granted, I have no idea what it would take to fix it- but I do know that it is essential to a healthy college, and a vital service whose impact can go a long way to helping us close achievement gaps and address student equity. If students could get their questions answered promptly, or at least be made aware of response time, it would go a long way to easing their minds and telling them what steps they can take, or where else they can look. 

With all due respect, Canvas received the contract to be the only CMS for all schools of the California Community College system- an enormous contract. I feel that because it functions as the sole CMS that serves so many students, the issue should absolutely be of topmost priority.  

I also wish to humbly suggest that the amount of attention to an issue on the Instructure boards, through stars or votes, is not an accurate representation of how much a fix is needed. I do not know any instructors who interact on these boards, simply because it takes a very long time to understand how they work, how to submit a suggestion, and then to follow its progress. We have so many other things to handle. Rather, the comments here likely reflect the number of times that a person has found the issue dire enough to navigate the site in order to make a plea for a fix (to find this thread, I searched at least half a dozen earlier proposals on different message boards on this service- and only found this one after a kind member of the Canvas community responded to me and provided a link directly here). 

I wish to add my voice to the list here asking for this issue to be fixed, and hope that community leaders or other organizational team leaders within Canvas will recognize the importance of this issue, and ensure that it remains on a list of high priority items. I look forward to the day when it will be solved and will sing their praises when it is. 

Community Explorer

This is infuriating. I cannot even get in contact with anyone at Instructure who can solve this problem. It is a nebulous wasteland of run-arounds and mononymous "CSMs" that supposedly speak with a team of people at our institution but can not or will not implement the requisite changes.  

Community Explorer

this is necessary. 

Community Member

Why do we still not have a solution to this? This thread has been open for years with so many comments about this concern. This issue needs to be addressed.

Community Member

Canvas has been a preferred communication channel between students and teachers at our institution. Senders need to know if the teacher won't be able to answer their questions so that they can address the question to another person.

This increase of service would make a big difference for both students and teachers if out of office-replies are implemented.

Community Participant

We also prefer the auto-reply feature so teachers at City University of Hong Kong can let students know their preferred communication channel and availability.

Community Explorer

As others have already said: Much needed feature!

Community Member

I agree to this important feature. In Sweden we need to answer incoming emails within a few days, so an automatic email response is very important to us.

Community Team
Community Team
Status changed to: New