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patty_kunkel
Community Member

Student Read Announcements and Messages

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Is there a way to tell if specific students have read an announcement or email thru Canvas?

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James
Navigator II

 @patty_kunkel  

No, not really, or not reliably. I'll leave it up to you to decide which of the three you like best. You may or may not be able to tell that they have read it, but telling that they did not read it is nearly impossible to tell with any certainty.

As for messages / inbox / conversations: An admin may be able to go into their Canvas inbox and check the status of a message, but most students have notifications sent to an email address and many use the mobile apps to get notifications as well. So they may have read it in their email or in their notifications without Canvas knowing that they've read it. On the other hand, having it marked as read in their inbox doesn't mean they actually read it - just that some action was taken to mark it as read. Even if they read the first sentence and it got marked as read, they may not have read any more than that.

For announcements, there's not much hope either. I'm speaking without verifying here, but course announcements are treated as discussions and the user can tell which discussion posts they've read, but the teacher can't through the discussion mechanism. An administrator can masquerade as a student and pull up that information, at least through the API. But even if it looks like the student didn't read the announcement, there's no guarantee that they didn't get it through a notification (email or mobile). For global announcements, I don't think that functionality exists.

One thing you might be able to do -- again speaking without verifying -- is pull up the Access Report for the student in question within the course and see if the announcement shows up in there. It probably won't show up as an announcement, but as a discussion. See How do I view the course access report for an individual user?  for more information. But even then, there is no guarantee that a student didn't access it externally via email or mobile notification and that wouldn't show up in the access report.

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13 Replies
James
Navigator II

 @patty_kunkel  

No, not really, or not reliably. I'll leave it up to you to decide which of the three you like best. You may or may not be able to tell that they have read it, but telling that they did not read it is nearly impossible to tell with any certainty.

As for messages / inbox / conversations: An admin may be able to go into their Canvas inbox and check the status of a message, but most students have notifications sent to an email address and many use the mobile apps to get notifications as well. So they may have read it in their email or in their notifications without Canvas knowing that they've read it. On the other hand, having it marked as read in their inbox doesn't mean they actually read it - just that some action was taken to mark it as read. Even if they read the first sentence and it got marked as read, they may not have read any more than that.

For announcements, there's not much hope either. I'm speaking without verifying here, but course announcements are treated as discussions and the user can tell which discussion posts they've read, but the teacher can't through the discussion mechanism. An administrator can masquerade as a student and pull up that information, at least through the API. But even if it looks like the student didn't read the announcement, there's no guarantee that they didn't get it through a notification (email or mobile). For global announcements, I don't think that functionality exists.

One thing you might be able to do -- again speaking without verifying -- is pull up the Access Report for the student in question within the course and see if the announcement shows up in there. It probably won't show up as an announcement, but as a discussion. See How do I view the course access report for an individual user?  for more information. But even then, there is no guarantee that a student didn't access it externally via email or mobile notification and that wouldn't show up in the access report.

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Wow! That’s too bad. They ought to figure out a way to use read receipts. Thanks for your reply.

Patty Kunkel

Professor, Reading

Read receipts are not reliable either. I have mine disabled, but that doesn't mean that I didn't read something -- I just think it's none of the sender's business whether or not I did. They wouldn't fix the issue of notifications since they don't generate read receipts. Most of our students do not check their school emails, either getting the information directly through Canvas or through mobile notifications. Some have their school emails forwarded to their personal emails, but most just don't get messages we send them.

If the reason you're asking is because a student claims they didn't get an announcement, then I would recommend putting a statement in the syllabus that a student is responsible for monitoring Canvas and all announcements and communications from the instructor. Then it may not matter if the student claims they didn't get it, it's their responsibility.

That also addresses the issue that students can set their own notifications. A student might have their announcement notifications set to once-a-week so it may not have arrived yet, but it will at some point -- too late to be useful. Several of us spend time early in the semester going through notifications with students and the importance of having them set up to go to some place that they will actually get the message.

Thank you. I actually have a “notification assignment “ which requires them submitting a screen shot before proceeding to the first module. It requires notifications to be received daily. Unfortunately, I still hear they didn’t “see” the announcement. I was just wondering if there was a better way.

Patty Kunkel

Professor, Reading

Thanks! The access report may help!

Patty Kunkel

Professor, Reading

cholling
Adventurer III

As I was reading  @patty_kunkel 's post, it struck me that it could be helpful to be able to set up an an Announcements module that pulled in announcements automatically and to set a prereq that each item had to be read before other modules would be accessible. Let's say there were 5 announcements and the student had read each one and was working through Module 4. Then Instructor Phil added a new announcement and because Student Sam hadn't read it yet, couldn't proceed to the Module 5.

I know -- a programming nightmare and unrealistic, but a girl's gotta dream.

Cindy.

GregoryBeyrer
Adventurer III

I think the ultimate test is whether the student responds to the message in an appropriate way, like *not* showing up when a canceled-class Announcement is posted or demonstrating they read the *thoughtful message* sent to them via the Conversations tool. It might be worth it to sprinkle in clues or bonus information into announcements or messages. Maybe an answer to low-stakes questions on the first couple of exams. But that feels to me like being too cute.

Thanks! I think there is something to that. I may consider creating an Extra Credit column if students reply “got it”

Patty Kunkel

Professor, Reading

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @patty_kunkel  

There is a mutated form of read receipt available that you might be able to use to meet your needs.

In announcements you can allow users to post comments on the announcement, much like a discussion. Provide instructions to your students to post a comment - even something as simple as "I read it, Teach". Then you can go back in and check off the students who have comments. Clumsy, I know, but it will work.

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Kelley