[Inbox] Auto-reply for Canvas messages

This idea has been developed and is On Canvas Beta •  How do I access the Canvas beta environment?

For more information, please read through the Canvas Release Notes (2024-07-20) 

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. 

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Hello,  @sduffy4  Welcome to the Canvas Community! Please know that since Canvas doesn't have email, we've edited the title and description of your idea submission to replace references to "email" with "messages" and "Canvas Inbox."

Community Contributor

I'd like to second this idea. It would be incredibly useful for our institution.

We have official university email addresses that students and staff should use, particularly when it comes to official correspondence regarding assignment extensions, extenuating circumstances, etc.

Some staff at our institution don't closely monitor their Canvas messages, so an 'out of office' that could essentially act as an auto-reply feature would be very useful. I.e: 'Thank you for your message, however I do not monitor my Canvas messages. Please contact me with any correspondence at [email address].'

Community Novice

Yes, please! We desperately need this feature so that it mirrors what we have in our Microsoft email. 

Community Novice

Great idea!

Community Novice

Yes, please! I have an autoreply on my institution email set to provide students information about whom to contact with exam-day emergencies, for example, but when they contact me via Canvas, they do not receive that information. Our strong preference would be for students to NOT use the Canvas Inbox at all (with 1,000-2,000 students each semester, this is not a terrific messaging system), but since we do not have the option to turn that off for our courses or indicate to students within the messaging system that their messages will not be read, it would be very helpful to be able to set an autoreply. Thank you!

Community Novice

Yes please! For the reasons above and also the following:

1. For setting out of office replies outside regular office hours: this is important for instructors’ and students’ health and wellbeing, setting boundaries and respecting working and learning conditions. (In some place, like where I am, this is part of institutional policy and workplace rights are part of the law.)

2. To protect vulnerable teachers who are in precarious employment from bullying and harassment by students.

3. For students: if a student is sending messages at highly irregular hours (ex. 3 a.m.) this can be a sign of stress, anxiety, distress, or crisis; a message could also be a cry for help, whether indirectly related to changes in mental health or directly following trauma, reaching out to a responsible and responsive adult whom they trust. It’s good to be able to send automated replies that don’t just say “sorry, closed” but that also include contact information for emergency and urgent services. (That is: the same information that I’ve written in my institutional email system’s automated message.)

Community Novice

Yes, yes, and yes--thank you for adding these important points!

Community Novice

CANVAS seems to presume that teachers work full time with CANVAS alone, which is very odd. CANVAS should be a tool to relieve us from administration, not create more of it.

Community Novice

I really need this, because my students inundate me on Canvas and my university email separately. I'd like to have only one place to check. Going into Canvas as an additional place to check is a problem. If students' emails could be forwarded to our university emails that would help. Furthermore, we can file and keep records of emails on our university email systems, which we cannot on Canvas. The Canvas emails also confuse me, because I do not know which courses the questions are coming from. It's just too chaotic.

Additionally, we need an out of office message on Canvas. They do not know when we are not available. Many online students think we are available 24/7 and we have other things going on. Without these two features, they think we do not care and they feel under-served.

Dr. Kate Reynolds

Community Member

Yes!  I use Canvas to record grades and post documents for students.  I do NOT spend other time in there just because.  I only see messages when I log in to conduct administrative functions for my classes.  The fact that messaging cannot be turned off or automatically forwarded to my email address is bad enough, but not being able to set up an auto-reply?  Canvas needs to work for me, not me for it.