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dhonda
New Member

Can an instructor turn off student notifications for a course?

Is it possible to turn off notifications for my students in my course settings?  I know the students can turn off their own notification settings in their individual accounts, but I want to set the course itself to not send out notifications. 

36 Replies
kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @hondaschoology ‌

Currently, this is not possible in Canvas, and I am not sure it is desirable. Notifications are a user-controlled feature to help them stay current of changes in Canvas, and the intent of that feature is that is be user-controlled.

There has been considerable discussion about this in the Community at various time, and many rationals made for taking this control away from the user and giving it to a teacher or admin.

Kelley

stuart_ryan
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @hondaschoology ,

I agree with Kelley, in that it is probably not desirable. However, I am curious as to what your specific use case is, i.e. why in certain cases it would be desirable for this to be possible.

Always interesting to see if you might have a use case that hasn't been pondered before.

Cheers,
Stuart

Thanks for the replies. One reason for my desire to be able to turn the notifications off is that I am often changing content, due dates, etc. of module items based upon how my in-class lessons go. The constant notifications of every revision I make is confusing for my students. I’m also trying to gamify my curriculum. Currently I’m adding Easter eggs in various places in my content, which are meant to be hidden items, and I don’t want the students getting a notification of those additions.

David Honda

Math Teacher

Marshall Middle School

dhonda@sandi.net<mailto:dhonda@sandi.net>

OOh very interesting use cases. I have had the same thoughts in regards to changing content (as far as actual content is concerned), though I do think changes in due dates are good to have communicated as it helps to manage expectations.

The one I hadn't heard of before is creating easter eggs. That is rather interesting, and I could see as very valid for wanting to have a 'publish without notify' flag.

The only other thing I could suggest while revising content is to unpublish, make all your revisions and republish the item. That would allow you to make numerous revisions and only have the one republish notification go out for the item.

[Edit: *** As  @James  pointed out, I stand corrected, this out of the box suggestion only works if you haven't graded something yet***] Having said that, thinking outside the box, I can make one other suggestion. Disclaimer: 'Here be dragons'. There are most certainly pros and cons with this one, and I think in many circumstances it would not suit, but, it came to my mind so will throw it out there. You could tell your students your course has a 'maintenance window' for a short period each week. You could unpublish the course, make all your changes, and republish the course. That would stop any notifications going out for the content changes, however would mean the student's wouldn't see the course on their dashboard for the period you are maintaining it. As I said, a plethora of issues doing this, but if you have very specific circumstances and your institution supports this, then it is another available option. I would ensure you communicate this extremely well and make sure institution support is there, because it will be confusing for student's if they log in at a time you are doing maintenance on it, and their subject simply isn't there (like they have been unenrolled).

James
Community Champion

The biggest issue with your dragons is that you can not unpublish a course once it contains a graded submission. https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-10395 

OOOOh, that I didn't know! Well, that solves that then Smiley Sad somehow something I haven't run into before.

James
Community Champion

We've all been there. I don't even pretend to know everything and it's fun to learn new things. It's the things I once knew (and sometimes even wrote lengthy posts explaining what was going on) but are no longer true after Canvas changed something that give me trouble.

Yep, so very true! I have to say, being in the community a lot more is also really helping to remove me from the isolation of the IT administrator mindset. Things like this let me see how things are used by academics and users (which is a big win).

James
Community Champion

 @dhonda ,

Perhaps the constant stream of notifications can be spun in a positive way? Since the students get so many notifications, they become less likely to check them out, which means that they may not notice the Easter eggs.

John2020
Community Member

Did you figure out how to work and change items in modules as a teacher without constant notifications to students? 

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This is my first semester using Canvas, and there have been a few times during the semester that I've published or  new versions of assignments, changed settings on assignments, etc. This has resulted in my students getting dozens of notifications in one night for changes that were already in the syllabus, explained in class, or really not that important. In almost all these cases, the notifications were unnecessary.

A basic principle of good practice in email communication is that flooding someone with emails causes them to tune them out or delete them without reading. I'm always selective with messages I send to students, so that they read them. These always-on notifications aren't selective.

THIS! I am currently having exactly this problem, and it is magnified by forced-online teaching, so I don't get to see my students face to face.

Selective email is so important.

The idea that I don't get to be in charge of notifications for my own course is RIDICULOUS!

kmcoll
New Member

I appreciate all the replies but I share the original question and desire, for similar reasons. Rather than asking instructors why we want the option to turn off notifications while we are engaged in grading or updating content, why not just make it possible to unpublish a site or an assignment during the term, even when some work has already been graded, or after a site has been published? I can think of many reasons to do this, but my question is instead why Canvas won't allow this. It is a serious enough issue for me to consider switching from Canvas to a self-designed open-source system as quite a few of my colleagues have done.

Hi  @kmcoll , have you considered making this a product request?  This would be a good way to give others who have similar needs a way to vote on the idea as well. Here are a couple of pages that may be helpful.  Best wishes!

How does the feature idea process work? 

https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-1330-how-do-i-create-a-new-feature-idea 

Will do, much obliged for the suggestion.

Does this exist as a feature request?  I'd like to vote it up.  Really, it's a no-brainer to put in a switch to turn off all notifications while the instructor tweaks a dozen due dates by a few hours, fixes a few typos, etc.  Strange that it does not exist, and that so much time is being spent trying to justify an obvious need.

Hi  @tom_collins ,

I had a bit of a look around and found two relevant feature ideas in the community. The one which most aligns is https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/9367" modifiedtitle="true" title="Teacher Control over Auto-No..., however, during the last voting period, this did not gain enough traction. 

There is some useful information in there which points to https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/1179-users-need-to-be-able-to-customize-notifications-at-the-c... which focuses on lettings user's control the notifications themselves at the course level.

The second idea is on the Canvas Product Radar, especially with such a large number of votes, and therefore something that may be considered in the future.

Hope that helps!

Stuart

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kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

Something else to consider is “muting” an assignment. When you mute an assignment students don’t receive any notifications about the assignment and can’t see the grade/feedback information until the assignment is unmuted.

Also, technically if you wanted to turn off access to the entire course you could change the course availability dates in settings and mark that students can’t view the course once the availability date is passed. This would take the course offline so to speak (at least for the students) and no notifications would go out until the course was opened back up. 

jnorvell
Community Member

Is there such an option to "mute" an assignment? I don't see one in the quizzes I am changing due dates on. I am changing due dates on quizzes many  weeks in the future in a course I have already published. I am specifically NOT checking the box to "notify students that the quiz has changed", but email notifications are going out anyway. 

John,

It's in the Gradebook section of the course. In your course, click on "Grades" in the vertical navigation menu to the left. Then go to the particular assignment that you want to mute and click on the little arrow that appears when you hover your mouse over it. One of the options that appears is to mute the assignment.

jnorvell
Community Member

I tried this, and it's true the changes to an assignment aren't sent out as notifications while the assignment is muted. But then when it is unmuted, TWO go out, one that says it's unmuted and one for the change that was made.

milesl
Community Contributor

We have a staff member on campus who uses a Canvas site to manage lab trainings. His course has hundreds of appointment slots that are constantly being scheduled, and he reached out to us about how to avoid flooding his students with email notifications. I had the same idea as  @kona  here about using the end date to close the course and temporarily disable notifications. Unfortunately, when I tested it, I learned that Canvas will still send notifications if a course end date has passed and "Restrict students from viewing this course after end date" is checked.

(If you check "Students can only participate in the course between these dates" the instructor loses the ability to create new appointment groups.)

jnorvell
Community Member

I just posted a request for a feature to turn off notifications of changes for individual assignments in the Studio. Go vote it up, please!: "Option to block notification of a change to an assignment"

how does one vote this up?  I'm teaching a course for the first time and making lots of little changes.  It feels like students are watching me change my underwear!  I don't need them to know about every little alteration to my course. Also, does anyone know how students can turn these off themselves?

Hi  @burgedr .  The ideas most closely aligned to this request are https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/13446 and https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/13343 as far as I can tell.  Both ideas have been archived so you may need to request access to view them, and they cannot be voted on.  It is possible to resubmit an idea for consideration, which you might think about (see How does the feature idea process work in the Canvas Community?).  

A user can edit their notification settings by going to their profile and notifications.  Once here the individual can change how assignment notifications are handled (see image below).

324744_pastedImage_6.png

Change the notification settings impacts of their classes, however, not just one.  There is an idea open for voting with considerable support to address this, https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/1179-users-need-to-be-able-to-customize-notifications-at-the-c....  Also, it may be possible that some institutions don't allow notification settings to be changed.  I am not 100% certain this is possible, but I know that many places ask students not to change the default settings as it could impact when/if notifications are received for announcements, grades, etc.  Just something to consider.

I hope this helps and best wishes! 

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burgedr
New Member

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Hi  @burgedr .  Just as clarification for anyone reading the thread, the feature update allows a user to determine whether or not they get notifications from a course but does not allow an instructor to effectively mute a course and prevent notifications being sent to students who haven't turned them off.  Many discussions and feature ideas related to this functionality include a discussion of both.  I am very happy that this change was made as I am part of many classes that I will not be able to avoid messages from!

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Yes I understand. It’s for the students to do.

Sent from my iPhone

Yeah, and this not what I need and not what so many people have been asking for. I would rather be able to mute notifications for some changes so students don't feel the need to mute the whole course! When we changed over to online instruction, my poor students got a deluge of notifications for every little change to assignments that weren't due for weeks yet. I just want a little button to tick to mute notification of a change.

I work with lots of faculty and run into places where a mute notification button would be helpful.  I value the system being designed from the end-user perspective where they determine how notifications are received, but there are times when we are making multiple changes to a course and there isn't high value in being notified of all of these.  Being said, perhaps this is a change that will make muting a course possible in future feature updates.  It was hard for me to believe we would see the ability for an instructor to mute all course notifications before the ability for an end user to control notifications from the course.

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maguire
Community Champion

I have found that a useful approach is to make a new module in another Canvas course,  then I put all the content I want into it and then import this module to my other course. All the content comes in at once. You can then move it around in the course if you wish.

 

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It doesn't seem like such a simple change should be so difficult. 

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I definitely appreciate allowing a user to turn off notifications to themselves, but I'd still find it useful to allow an instructor to mute all student/observer/etc. notifications for a course. I'm an archivist/librarian who teaches lots of class sessions using primary sources. 

Since the pandemic has begun, we've set up a Canvas 'course' for my library. We use it to create assignments and modules, and upload or embed documents (including some we can't make publicly available on our website because of copyright concerns). We don't use our own site to teach from; we build the modules/assignments there and then copy them over to a professor's site for their class when needed. Having our own site allows us to maintain control over our own content and modify/reuse it for multiple classes if needed, rather than having various things saved in (or disappear from) different professors' courses.

Multiple librarians are assigned to our course; some - like me - are creating assignments, while others are just observers since they don't work with classes, but need to know what topics/collections we discuss. Since there are no students and no due dates, notifications aren't really necessary at all, so what I end up doing each time I add a new 'observer' is having to explain how they, individually, can turn off all notifications.

I hope this makes sense, and provides another use case (librarians creating/maintaining content of their own) for you!

maguire
Community Champion

If a system administrator is adding the librarians to the course, they could of course run a script to set all of the user's notifications to be off using the 

Update a preference

API.

Getting all of a user's communication channels and notification settings are easy, see 

the program get_user_channels_and_notifications.py from:

https://github.com/gqmaguirejr/Canvas-tools

you can run it with:

get_user_channels_and_notifications.py self

One could adapt this to do the set of the preferences to never for all the desired types of notifications and communication channel

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maguire
Community Champion

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cejones
Community Member

I really dislike that I cannot control when students are notified of changes I make.

Maybe the people who run Canvas LOVE email and would do anything possible to increase the flood of email to their in-boxes, but my undergraduates are so overwhelmed by email that they ignore and/or miss important emails.

I tell my students that I only send out emails when it is important, and I make them as concise as possible.  Unfortunately, Canvas actively undermines this philosophy by flooding their inboxes with unintended emails, and it gets really confusing for students if I change my mind about a change I made.

And yes, students can turn notifications off, but it turns out that the students who are most overwhelmed by email are also least likely to figure out how to turn off the notifications, especially if they have to do this on a class-by-class basis.  And what makes students more qualified than the instructor to decide which notifications to shut off?  Shouldn't this be an instructor-level decision and not a student-level decision?

I know that it is utterly pointless asking Canvas to give instructors the option of controlling the flow of information to our students.  Why pointless?  Because Canvas cannot make even the most basic changes to New Quizzes that would bring them up to the same functionality as the Classic Quizzes (e.g., partial credit without penalties for matching or multiple answer).

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