Michelle Everson

Communicating with Students within Canvas

Discussion created by Michelle Everson on May 25, 2017
Latest reply on Jun 14, 2017 by Stefanie Sanders

Hi Everyone,


I wasn't sure of the best title to give to this message because there are several things that are on my mind now.   I am mostly concerned with the best way to use the Canvas Inbox and/or Announcements.


I have been teaching online since 2004, and I have used many different learning management systems over the years.  I always begin each week of my online course by sending out a message to students with important announcements and reminders about upcoming deadlines.  Given that I usually have a fair amount to highlight in these messages, I like to be able to use boldface type, underlining, bullet points, indenting, etc., so the messages are structured in a way that is easy for students to read through.  I would love to be able to use the Canvas inbox to easily send such messages to my students, but there seems to be no way to easily edit my text to include particular typographical and structural cues, unless I am missing something.  Is this correct?


When I discovered this, I decided that I would simply email my students each week through their regular campus email address.  My assumption was that students would be checking that email regularly since part of being a student means taking responsibility for email communications.  I'm now starting to realize that not all students are checking email regularly, and some have things set up so that email messages to their campus addresses will forward to other email addresses, and that has sometimes led to my communication ending up in a Junk folder.  I obviously don't want that to happen, and even though I have a whole section about the importance of email communication on the syllabus, this still tends to be an issue every semester.


I was somewhat hesitant about using the Announcements feature in Canvas because I didn't quite know how it would work and whether students would easily see the announcements or be alerted to new announcements.  I'm starting to explore that feature this summer.  I'm teaching online this summer, and I decided that I'd post an announcement within Canvas at the start of each week and also send email messages to students' campus system.  I am hoping that all students will at least get one of these messages. 


This is what led to my post.  I'm curious about how others communicate important weekly announcements with their own online students.  Has anyone found a good system that seems to work well?  Perhaps I need to re-think what I am doing and how I am doing it.  I know many students are now using the Canvas app, and I'd like to be able to rely more on Canvas email to reach them, but, again, that system seems limited to me, especially if there are longer announcements I need to make.  I also know that Canvas nicely allows us to make video announcements if we want to, but unless I can easily caption those, I worry about relying too much on that either.  


Thank you!