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Please may we have standardisation of language surrounding Canvas Conversations

Canvas contains a messaging service with each user having their own 'Inbox' in the left hand global Canvas menu, from which they can send 'messages' to other Canvas users. So far, so normal. When one goes into the notification settings, however, here the option to switch notifications on for incoming messages via this tool refers to it as 'Conversations', with the messages being 'Conversation messages'.

Would it not be more appropriate for the same language to be used in both places? Either call the inbox area 'Conversations' in the left hand menu or, if you wish to stick with 'Inbox' there, when you go into notifications make the heading for that area also 'Inbox' and talk about the notifications relating to 'messages' and not 'conversations'? 

I know several academic members of staff at our institution who have been tripped up by this. They have missed messages due to not having their 'Conversations' notifications on because they didn't know what that notification setting was all about. They just assumed (incorrectly) that if someone sent them a message using the Inbox/messages tool it would turn up in their work (Outlook) email account.

Alternatively, if it is possible to ditch the Inbox tool entirely at institutional level that would be an option we could consider. With plenty of other means of communication within a course, I think as it stands the Inbox area is just a place where stuff can get missed.

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Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @steven_boulton .  I went ahead and converted this from a question to a discussion since questions normally have a right answer and this seems to fit better as a topic to be discussed.

There are certainly places where language within Canvas can be standardized or untangled a bit.  The topic of what an "assignment" is comes up frequently.  I understand the confusion in terminology here as well.  "Conversations" may be a bit long to fit in the global navigation pane, and although hovering over items within the Conversation area of Notifications pops up a message window, this is easy to miss.  At our institution, when a Conversation message is sent in Canvas, it is automatically forwarded to someone's Outlook account as well and the individual can reply from Outlook as well.  This was something IT set up for us when we moved to Canvas.

I spend a bit of time in initial training going over the Inbox, but may do a bit more with Notifications after reading your response.  I really like the Inbox for communicating with students because it is easy to select all or a group of students, which isn't easy how Outlook is set up here.  Also, many students go by a name other than what is officially in our system, so it often is easier to select the student and send a message using the Inbox as opposed to trying to find the right student's email in Outlook directly.

Thanks for the post.  It has given me some good ideas to go over with faculty!

Thanks for this helpful reply, Eric. If you can supply some more details on what your IT team did (or put me in touch with someone) to link Canvas to people's default mailboxes (without them having to have their Canvas Notifications switched on) that would be great. Much appreciate your time Smiley Happy


Hi  @steven_boulton .  I spoke to someone here from IT and they didn't think they did anything particular to make the connection between the Canvas Inbox and Outlook.  When users are created in Canvas from our SIS, they are automatically set up with the default notification preferences on their institutional email address.  This includes, "Notify Me Right Away" for "Conversation Message".  You mentioned that some staff had this turned off.  Do you know whether or not someone will receive a message in both their Canvas Inbox and Outlook email if this is set to "Notify Me Right Away"?

If everyone does have their institutional email account as a default contact method and Conversation Message set to notify them immediately, and they are still not receiving messages in Outlook, it might be worth contacting Canvas Support so they could see what is happening.  I am not an IT expert myself, but another possibility may be something with how Outlook is set up.  The message comes from a general email address (see sample below) and maybe they are getting blocked or shuttled into the Junk folder?  Mine are automatically placed in a section of my Outlook Inbox called "other".

I hope this helps!

   Email address in Outlook from a test student for a message sent using Conversations in Canvas.